The New York Times and 23andMe Disagree

The Editorial Board of The New York Times posted an opinion piece titled: “Why You Should Be Careful About 23andMe’s Health Test”. In response, 23andMe posted a letter to the editor titled: “23andMe Responds: Empowering Consumers”. The two disagree about the accuracy of 23andMe’s genetic tests results.

The New York Times Editorial Board wrote:

“Last month, the DNA-testing company 23andMe secured Food and Drug Administration approval for a new screening for gene-based health risks. Along with celiac disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, breast cancer, and several other medical conditions, the company can now screen clients for two mutations that have been linked to colorectal cancer.”

“But “F.D.A.-approved” does not necessarily mean “clinically useful.” 23andMe relies on much simpler technology than tests that you’d get at your doctor’s office. As a result, the company’s tests cannot tell you much about your actual risk of developing the diseases in question…”

The New York Times Editorial Board advises: “If you’re concerned about genetic susceptibility to cancer, Alzheimer’s or other serious conditions, it’s best to see a doctor.”

Co-Founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki responded:

“…While 23andMe is not a diagnostic test for individuals with a strong family history of disease, it is a powerful and accurate screening tool that allows people to learn about themselves and some of the most common clinically useful conditions.”

“The Food and Drug Administration sets a high bar for accuracy and user comprehension. The reports authorized by the F.D.A. have gone through a rigorous process that has shown they are both clinically and analytically valid, far different than the “parlor trick” test the editorial refers to. We spent years proving to the F.D.A, through detailed analytical testing, that our Genetic Health Risk reports meet accurate thresholds of 99 percent or higher…”

23andMe points out that insurance companies have well-defined, restrictive criteria around who can qualify for genetic testing. Those who not know their family history of disease and/or specific ancestral origins will never qualify for genetic tests from their doctor.

Related Articles at

* 23andMe Provides Information About Breast Cancer Genes

* 23andMe Adds Four New Trait Reports

* 23andMe has FDA Approval for Genetic Test for Breast Cancer

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