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Alzheimer's Genetic Testing Stirs Misgivings

DennisM2 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Food and Drug Administration has approved marketing of genetic testing for the health risk for 10 diseases. The Alzheimer’s Association says don’t count on it to tell you the risk of developing that particular memory-robbing disorder.


For $200, the company 23 and Me says you can find out if you are at risk of some devastating, debilitating health problems, including Alzheimer’s. But the Alzheimer’s Association is quick to point out that more than 100 genes can influence your risk of the getting the disease. Only a handful of cases are passed through families. So that group says don’t rely on this test to guide any health decisions you make about Alzheimer’s.

"It’s going to say that your risk is at an increase," commented Ginny Funk, program and advocacy director of the San Antonio chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "People do have those genes and do not later develop Alzheimer’s."

While genes may play a role, aging is the No. 1 risk factor for this irreversible problem. "I really think the tagline fairly soon is going to be “Who’s at risk for getting Alzheimer’s? Anyone with a brain," Funk added.

Direct to consumer genetic testing continues to stir misgivings.