Sunday, 12 December 2010

Morning Scepticism: Knowing Your Genome

Imagine being born with a hereditary disease that you know you have and puts an absolute upper limit on how long you will live. In that scenario would you wish you didn't know? Yet for those of us who have no known condition, we can have our DNA scanned for key allele variants that could let us know about future problems. And as time goes on, this knowledge will only get better. So the question is do we want to know? Because the knowledge is available, if we choose not to get tested then we could miss something that could help prolong our life. The knowledge could serve as useful, it could just show something unfavourable that can't be treated. Is the bliss of ignorance worth the risk of not knowing something that might actually help to prolong your existence?

1 comment:

EastwoodDC said...

The standard medical response to this, is that if there is no effective treatment, then such testing has no benefit and may actually cause harm.

If testing actually gave a reliable estimate of how much time a person has left, some people might find it useful, but it would be a very personal choice.