Junkfood Science: Your genes can and will be used against you?

June 19, 2007

Your genes can and will be used against you?

As most every disease and health indice is being found to have a genetic link, this proposed use of our private genetic information by insurers in Britain to set premiums is a slippery slope towards discrimination. Health Insurance Magazine reports:

ABI may seek cancer gene test approval from government

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has told the Department of Health’s Genetic and Insurance Committee (GAIC) that it may seek approval to use the results of genetic tests for inherited cancers in setting premiums after 2007.

In its latest report, the GAIC wrote: “The ABI has said that it may come forward with applications covering specific predictive genes for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, but not until 2008 at the earliest.”... GAIC approval only applies to high value policies because a moratorium exists on the use of genetic tests in all other policies....

Dr James Mackay, medical director of Opaldia, a provider of genetic medicine and lifetime wellness programmes, said: “Genetic testing can be very helpful as long as it is taken in context with other protocols of care. If someone tests positive for breast cancer and has an extra screening insurance companies would be happy with this because it helps everyone.”...

But Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, said: “Women who are facing the difficult decision about whether or not to take genetic tests should not have to worry about the future financial implications. The insurance industry is not doing its image any good by continuing to seek access to these test results. The familial form of breast cancer is rare – so any financial implications for the industry would be minimal.”

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