Study: Genetic tests encourage health screenings

By City News Service

Personal genetic tests not only don't cause anxiety, but actually spur people into getting further health screenings, according to a Scripps Health study released Wednesday.

The study, in conjunction with the Scripps Translational Science Institute, appears on the New England Journal of Medicine website.

Scientists and physicians have expressed concern that people would have negative psychological reactions if found to have high genetic risk for disease, but no evidence of that was apparent among the 2,037 participants in the study.

"A major concern raised regarding these tests is the possibility they will lead to high levels of anxiety in consumers who receive estimates of high genetic risk, but our data suggest this is not the case," said Dr. Cinnamon Bloss, an STSI clinical psychologist and lead study author.

The study also found that among those participants whose scans showed a high risk for developing a disease, a significant proportion expressed strong intent to undergo the corresponding health screening test.

However, participants made few lifestyle changes in response to their results, such as improving diets or increasing exercise, according to the study.

Adult participants in the study received a genome scan for more than 20 health conditions that may be changed by health screening and lifestyle, including diabetes, obesity, heart attack and some forms of cancer.

   
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