If you could have one super power, what would it be? Would it be the ability to fly, or the ability to become invisible? What if your superpower was to know the future? What if you knew more about your own future then you would have ever have known otherwise? Thanks to improvements in technology and research, many people are being given this look into their own future with sometimes alarming results.
Genetic testing has gone a long way in the past half century. Beginning as a basic tool to learn more about individuals and how our genes are expressed and work, genetic testing has become specialized enough to allow people to have test run for them. Comparing their results to a number of different known markers and indicators, individuals are being given a look into what conditions they may have or one day express. While some find this empowering, other people report later that they wished they never knew. In addition, there are concerns about what this knowledge may lead to in the world of medicine. So, lets take a moment to review the pros and cons of genetic testing.
The Pros of Genetic Testing
1. There are a number of benefits associated with genetic testing. For example, genetic testing has been used for decades as a way to prove paternity. In addition, it has been used to trace back ancestry for generations and to figure out who was related to who. With such knowledge, families have been able to trace back their line for countless generations and form a more complete look at their family tree. As a result, re-unions have been made, individuals contacted, and knowledge gained as a direct result of genetic testing.
2. Along with looking back, genetic testing has provided the amazing opportunity to look forward. Genetic testing can review our genes to see what diseases, potential defects, and other life changing things we may have. It can lead people to become aware of potentially debilitating problems well in advance, and give them the opportunity to make changes in their lifestyle to prepare. Whether this is screening for cancer earlier or eating a specific diet, genetic testing has given people the tools to take care of problems before they become a threat.
3. In addition to the benefits genetic testing can have on oneself, it can also be very beneficial when planning to have a child. For example, both parents can be tested for a variety of conditions that may affect their child. If both parents have dominant genes for something life-threatening to the child, then the parents can re-evaluate their plans and potentially adopt.
4. Finally, genetic testing provides a kind of knowledge and peace of mind that can only come from knowing. If you fear that you may have some kind of degenerative disorder, then getting tested is the best way to know for sure. Though the answer may not always be good, it at least allows you the time and road map to plan your future according.
The Cons of Genetic Testing
1. The main concern that many people bring up is that they were better off not knowing. For example, if a person found out that they have an irreversible, terrible degenerative condition that will kick in later in life, their time now may be ruined. Because each person is different, some people will prefer to not know and simply live their life happily in ignorance.
2. A mistake that many people make with genetic tests is to assume that just because you show signs for something means that you have it. This for the most part isn’t true. More often then not, genetic markers suggest that there is an increased likelihood of having something. Whether this is good or bad doesn’t matter. What matters is that just because you have the markers for something doesn’t mean you will ever get it in life. Many people who would rather not have known about their condition site a lack of comfort that came with the genetic test. Now, instead of living their lives normally, they lived with the realization that they may have something.
3. As genetic testing continues to evolve and become a precise instrument for understanding our conditions and later life conditions, there are a number of ethical questions raised. For example, can insurance companies use these tests to deny you health insurance? Can the risk of something lead to you not being able to get the coverage you need? When tens of thousands of dollars rest on whether or not you are insured, it is easy to understand why people will be up in arms regarding the use of genetic testing in insurance policy. In addition, as the current state of genetic testing is not precise, there is the worry that people might be denied coverage for things they do not actually have.