23andMe now offering information on breast cancer risks

Would you like to know your genetic risk of breast cancer?  In the past you’ve needed a doctor’s prescription for that kind of genetic testing, but 23andMe, a DNA testing company, has recently received FDA approval for the first direct to consumer test.

When you get the kit, all your do is send in a little saliva in a tube.  23andMe will test for three genetic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  Those mutations are most common in people with Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

But there are a thousand other mutations that this test is not looking for.  So genetic counselors want to make sure a negative result on a test like this, does not falsely reassure people.

“We do want genetic information to be more accessible to more people, but I think we have to do it responsibly, because there is great risk to these results being misinterpreted,” said Mary Freivogel, a genetic counselor at Invision Sally Jobe.

The test is now included in the Health and Ancestry service art 23andMe.  It costs $199.