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Just Don't Tell Me

People don't always want to know their genetic disease risk, Slate writes.

Before genetic testing for Huntington's disease became available in the early 1990s, researchers surveyed people at risk of developing the disease to see whether they'd take such a test, with about 70 percent saying they would. But as Slate points out, only about 15 percent actually do take the test — most people prefer not to know. It adds that the finding generally holds for other incurable diseases.

At the same time, Slate says one study found that couples in which one person is a Huntington's disease carrier that sought prenatal genetic testing, those who received a negative result would have the child, while those who had a positive result would terminate the pregnancy and start again. They'd do the same thing the second time around, but would change their approach after that, according to Slate: some couples gave up on having a child and others turned to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, but about 45 percent forwent testing at all. They didn't want to know.

"Perhaps more than anything else, the lesson from the past three decades has been that people's reactions to these new tools will upend our predictions and our assumptions," Slate adds.