Could Genetic Data Be Misused?
Scientists now know how to map the entire human genetic code. Also, gene-sequencing techniques have been speeded up dramatically. Yet while these discoveries have led to cheaper and more readily available genetic tests, experts warn that regulations have lagged behind. That's the message from the American Heart Association in a policy recommendation published in the journal Circulation.
In a May 29th release from the AHA about the recommendations, Euan A. Ashley, M.R.C.P., D.Phil., chair of the policy statement writing group and director of the Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease at Stanford University School of Medicine wrote: “Genetic testing provides a tremendous opportunity but also a challenge in being responsible with that information. If the information is available, how best do we use it to really improve care for individual patients?”
Here are the key recommendations in the policy statement, with a focus on heart and blood vessel diseases:
Stopping the practice of awarding patents for observing a gene;
Establishing federal oversight of genetic tests;
Expanding anti-discrimination legislation.
That last one is especially important for Boomers. According to the release, there are "no protections against genetic discrimination by long-term care, disability and life insurance providers. To maximize the health benefits of genetic testing, federal laws should ensure that patients can undergo such testing without financial or other penalties."