One of the main worries that bioethicists and others have about personal genetic testing is how people react to receiving such information, particularly how they handle learning about incidental findings. But, this question of "how much information is too much information?" is actually the "wrong question," writes Virginia Hughes at Slate.
Instead of working to "'protect' people from their children's or their own DNA," she argues that geneticists and others should work to educate the public — and physicians — about genetics. In her own experience having 23andMe screen her genome, she found out that she had a few worrisome SNPs that elevated her risk for disease, and, while she was concerned at first, she realized that the information "wasn't all that scary" especially as "SNPs are notoriously ambiguous."
At Neuron Culture, David Dobbs seconds her sentiment. Five years ago, he writes, people may have had legitimate concerns about people not being able to handle receiving their genetic information, but no more. Additionally, he adds, "with very few exceptions, genes work in complicated and decidedly non-deterministic fashion." Dobbs notes that his own personal genome scan indicates that he was more likely to be short and bald, though he says his is more than six feet tall with a full head of hair.
"There's no way around the fact that genomes are complicated and, at least for now, difficult to interpret. And sometimes, yes, they will lead to unpleasant information," Hughes write. "But they're not going to suddenly fade away. More and more people are getting their DNA sequenced and eager to find out what secrets, if any, it holds. So let's figure out how to tell them."