The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the direct-to-consumer sale of a new 23andMe DNA test geared toward assessing people's risk of breast cancer, marking the first time that consumers have been able to get such a test without having to consult a physician first.
The test analyzes genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, variants of which have been tied to the risk of developing breast cancer. The FDA notes that the 23andMe DNA test only reports on the three variants most common to people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (i.e. Jews from Eastern Europe), and that there are more than 1,000 known BRCA mutations among the general population. In other words, "a negative result does not rule out the possibility that an individual carries other BRCA mutations that increase cancer risk".
Nonetheless, this direct-to-consumer test can help people in potentially high-risk demographics (like Ashkenazi Jewish women) to screen themselves early.
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