Of course I have read lots about ethical worries about how the data could be mis-used or how the public can not handle the probabalities of having a certain disease. Personally, I have always thought these were blown a bit out of proportion and that personal genomics will in general be a good thing. More data is better right?
Well, I just read an article called "The Burden of Knowing" by Catherine Elton in the Boston Magazine and it really made me reconsider my previous thoughts. Elton starts out explaining about personal genomics and specifically about Knome, the first company to do complete personal genome sequencing. She then starts to delve into her personal choices regarding her susectibility to having the BRCA1 gene. The article is extremely well written, and unless I am becoming a complete softy, quite sobering.
A small excerpt that I really enjoyed was this:
The counselors then mentioned another option: having my ovaries taken out and my breasts removed. Here we were, talking about science's ability to look along a submicroscopic piece of DNA, searching for missing letters on a strip of a gene, and yet if science found that letters were missing—if the gene had the cancer-risk mutation—the best it could do was amputate or sterilize. These options seemed as though they should have been filed away in a medieval remedy book, somewhere between leeches and bloodletting.
So did the story change my view on personal genomics? No not completely, but I do think that getting my genome sequenced might not be as fun as I first thought. Too bad there are not many positive attributes linked to genes like "gene variant Y will allow you to live a long life despite your lack of physical exercise" or "you have an improved version of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene, so feel free to drink more beer".