FDA approves DNA ancestry kit to test for breast cancer

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Your ancestry picture is about to get bigger and more clear. The FDA just approved a new use for the 23andMe DNA kits, now the kit will test for your chances of getting breast cancer.

The 23andMe test will only screen for three possible breast cancer mutations that are mostly seen in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

23andMe leaders say this is a major milestone that allows consumers to get this information without a prescription. St. Vincent breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Erica Giblin says that’s where the red flag goes up.

“Doing this type of testing helps, it’s an asset it does not replace being seen by a medical professional,” Dr. Giblin said.

While she also supports the new technology she says there are drawbacks to using the service because the test only looks at three of the breast cancer related genes that are common in a certain group of people. Giblin says a full genetics test looks at more than a thousand genes that could be linked to breast cancer.

“People are going to have a false sense of security because they tested for something very small but the consumer doesn’t know they only tested for a small area. So it’s like instead of looking at the forest you’re looking at three trees in the forest. You have to look at the whole forest that’s your total health,” Dr. Giblin said.

The test goes for $199 and will be available on the 23andMe website in a couple of weeks. Dr. Giblin says the competition could help drive down the cost of genetic tests at the doctor’s office that can cost around $3,000.

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