"This is extremely concerning," Cecelia Bellcross, director of genetic counseling training program at Emory University, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The challenge is we have the ability to look at thousands of genetic mutations but not interpret them. You have an 1000 piece puzzle and you're trying to predict what it is with 10 pieces."
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Bellcross, who wasn’t a part of the study, also noted that false positives can cause anxiety and possibly encourage patients to take unnecessary action.
“If individuals are told they have this high risk mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which can increase a woman’s chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer, it could lead to that person having their breast and ovaries removed,” she said. “They may also share with their family members who may go down the same path.”
For those who purchase at-home DNA tests, she encourages them to set up an appointment with a genetic professional to be repeat the testing. She also recommends seeking out organizations, such as the National Society of Genetic Counselors, that offer genetic counseling online or over the phone.
“Without consultation, it could lead to serious harm,” Bellcross said. “People need to be careful. Don’t take at face value what you’re getting in terms of those results.”
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