DNA testing done at home may put 20,000 Canadians at risk of insurance or work discrimination.

 

Published: 16/07/2015

 

  • Over 20,000 canadians have taken an at-home DNA test since 2010.
  • Canadians have no assurance when it comes to discrimination on their DNA test results.
  • DNA testing results may and can be used by insurance companies or employer to discriminate.
  • Canada lags behind other industrialized countries which have laws in place to protect individuals.

 

Canadians have no assurance when it comes to discrimination on their DNA test results, a recent investigation concluded.

We all know that our DNA stores a lot of information about our genetic build up such as our predisposition to various illnesses. Gone are the days when the only thing one can test at home is pregnancy. The DNA test kits are send by mail and are very discrete, but if your insurance company or employer finds out there is nothing explicitly preventing them from demanding a copy of the results.

Countries such as Japan, United Kingdom and the United States have legislation that protect its citizens from employers and insurance companies that may reveal their test results despite the fact they assured their clients that all results are private. Sadly, Canada has no legislation whatsoever that can assure the same privacy to its citizens despite the fact that Canada’s federal government was to present protective measures. Moreover, a recent bill has even lost its vital key points and that includes keeping anyone out from requiring you to take a test or for disclosing the results.

According to Senator James Cowan, a Nova Scotia Liberal who presented the bill states that Canada is one of the only countries in the western world that does not have laws to protect the integrity of its genes. Furthermore, there is nothing to prevent an employer, insurer or any service from stating, “Have you ever had a genetic test done and if so, what are the results?”

Home genetic testing kits are screened for limited number of diseases and the findings along with some of the analysis definitely vary between tests from different companies. In order to conduct genetic testing, DNA can be taken from blood or a person’s saliva. They will then look for markers that are associated with an amplified risk of illness or condition such as cancers.

Since Angelina Jolie’s public revelation about her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, genetic screening is now slowly becoming mainstream and that comes hand in hand with awareness. As a precaution, Angie had both her breasts removed along with her ovaries. According to her, she carries the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which simply means that she is at risk at about 87% when it comes to developing breast cancer and about 50% for ovarian cancer.

Aside from the doctor-hospital screening when it comes to genetic testing, people are now considering home dna testing kits and they cost around $200 to $500. How will all this affect employment and insurance? In the near future, if a person has a great risk of certain diseases such as cancer, will this person have a hard time looking for insurance because their risk will always pose a threat even when their cancer cells are not yet active?

Are you okay with DNA testing in Canada for diseases in the current legal landscape? Are you ready for the results that may affect and if you are high risk, are you ready for the complications it may possibly pose on your future insurability?

Where do you stand in all of this?