While some members of the family are at slightly increased risk of certain conditions, they're also at low risk of other diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
"It was a relief that I don't carry a lot of added genetic risks for most things," said Anne West, a freshman at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who wants to study biology. "If I had been at risk for something severe like Alzheimer's, I'm not the sort of person that would let that get me down. I would donate my money and possibly my time toward researching and preventing Alzheimer's later on, and doing what I could to prevent it."
And, she noted, having a higher risk for a disease doesn't mean you are destined to get it, just that you have some genes that raise your risk higher than others.
"If you know what's in your genome and you know what diseases you're at risk for, if you have a problem, you will be able to identify it much more easily," she explained.
Still, there are limitations, the researchers acknowledged, including that much of what is revealed in the genetic code is far from being fully understood.
And there's also the question of how much people want to know about what medical miseries may lie ahead, and to what extent people will change their behavior to prevent what they can.
"There are many things we're going to find when we do this work that have no specific prevention or cure," Ashley said. "That is one of the ethical questions the field is going to have to wrestle with."
The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has more on genetic testing.
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