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After genetic testing revealed a heightened risk for breast cancer, Angelina Jolie had a precautionary double mastectomy.
The day when a simple blood test or saliva sample can identify your risk for medical conditions ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease seems tantalizingly close.
But genetics specialists say the hype around many of these tests has outstripped the science. Insurers generally only cover a test if there’s strong scientific evidence that it can provide a health benefit to patients.
“The utility of some tests is not as clear as we’d like to think,” says Sharon Terry, president and CEO of the Genetic Alliance, an advocacy organization aimed at promoting health through genetics. “These technologies are advancing at a really rapid rate, and they’ll make a big impact on health. But the data gathering you need to do to determine clinical utility is difficult.”
One example is the $99 genetic test sold directly to consumers by
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