In a development almost certain to create more worry than good, a clinic called Genetic Health is offering personalized genetic exams that will pinpoint an individual's areas of risk.

Dr Jenkins, a consultant physician at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, is one of the expert medical team behind Genetic Health, a clinic that's just opened to identify those variations in your genes that have implications for your health.

It's well known that having some rare gene variations can put you at very high risk of certain diseases. For instance, if a woman has the faulty version of the BRCA1 gene she is 85 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer, and up to 40 per cent more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

Patients can be tested for these specific single genes. This new test is different - it pinpoints the group of genes linked with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's and some cancers. The genes are not a death sentence, they just make a particular disease more or less likely depending on how you behave.

They can affect how flexible your arteries are, your chances of having raised blood pressure, how likely you are to age gracefully and whether you are doomed to feel hunger more keenly and lay down fat more easily. You can even discover how well you metabolise medication, and your chances of suffering from side effects.

And so forth. There are many things I'd personally like to know about myself, but I think I'm more stoic than the general population. I'm not sure that an average patient would be better off knowing their genetic fate. I don't think I'd be better off, it would just be kinda fun.



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