Benefits and risks of genome testing

Genome testing makes it possible to generate very basic knowledge about your biological heritage. Genetics research makes it possible to pinpoint the cause of some hereditary conditions, and in the best cases it is possible to prevent and treat the condition. The results of genome testing can, however, be unclear and knowledge about the genes limited, and it is therefore not always possible to identify any genetic defect causing a hereditary condition in a family. 

Genome research can also generate uncertainty and give you knowledge that can be difficult to handle. You should be aware of both the potential benefits and risks of genome testing.

Benefits

  • Better research

  • Better treatment

  • Better public health / public health services

  • Financial advantages (for the public health services (ed.))

  • Earlier diagnoses

  • Tailored treatment

  • Prevention rather than treatment

  • Knowledge

 

Risks

  • Impact on private life

  • Misuse of information

  • Informed consent – incomplete or misunderstood information

  • Loss of trust in doctor

  • Scientific uncertainty – false hopes or concerns

 

Source: Mickey Gjerris, Associate Professor in Bioethics at Copenhagen University and member of The Danish Council on Ethics (at the conference, Genomics of the Future, March 2016).

Read about ethical dilemmas in genome testing