Warnings Over Shock Dementia Repercussions of Ancestry DNA Revelations

Companies have been told to accept moral responsibility and provide counseling to those people who inadvertently discover health risks when researching their ancestral DNA. People who use genetic tests, now growing in popularity, to trace their ancestry only to discover that they are at risk of succumbing to an incurable illness are being left to suffer serious psychological problems. Dementia researchers say the problem is particularly acute for those found to be at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which has no cure or effective treatment. Yet these people are stumbling upon their status inadvertently after trying to find their Viking, Asian, Native American, or ancient Greek roots. “These DNA tests have the potential to cause great distress,” said Anna Middleton, head of Society and Ethics Research at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge. “Companies should make counseling available before and after people have the testing done.”

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