DNA debate in Atlanta

8:15 AM, Oct 10, 2013   |    comments
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DNA molecule

(WXIA) -- More than 800 forensic scientists are in Atlanta this week taking part in a series of workshops and presentations on DNA.

There's a hot debate about now affordable DNA test kits that can predict all sorts of things -- everything from your risk for cancer and heart disease to the sports ability of a child.

It's called genome testing, and the test is really becoming more accessible to the general public. 

"Doctors can take the DNA of a patient where they have been unable to make a diagnosis and sequence his or her full genome. His complete body of DNA can be used to find the telltale mutations that may be causing that particular disease," said Dr. Kevin Davis.

The test once cost thousands of dollars and revealed the risk for a disease that may never form. New tests cost as little as $99. They have people lining up for more information on reading their own genetic code.

"It's a little bit scary because I really don't want to know if I want to know if there's something really wrong with me," said Raman Sandhu-Kirmer.

Knowing genetic code has even a trace of a risk for a deadly disease could cause a lot of anxiety and worry. It could also influence test kit sales.

There are going to be people who criticize consumer genetics as recreational or fortune telling," Davis said.

Before you pay $99 there are ways to know if you really need a "health horoscope" created by scientists who read your DNA.

First, consider what the test claims to be telling.

"Companies that aim to tell you that DNA can reveal whether your child is going to be an NFL quarterback or Albert Einstein in the making are not to be trusted," Davis said.

However, DNA predictions about your health can be considered powerful knowledge. For example, if it shows you are at high risk for high blood pressure, you can be proactive.

"Understanding your genetic makeup is really sort of a first step along with family history and along with taking good medical care of yourself," Davis added.

Realize the gene map isn't your destiny. It's simply a possibility, yet a lot of people may interpret the possibility as a diagnosis. That is what is at the center of this debate.

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