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The Failed Promise of 23andMe

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Over the past decade, we have heard about the “fat gene,” the “diabetes gene,” the “alcoholism gene,” the “intelligence gene,” even the “God gene.” In the end, none of these so-called discoveries proved correct.

Genetics is more complex than scientists imagined. We have discovered highly predictive genes for about 2,000 rare ailments, such as Huntington’s disease, but not for most common diseases such as cancer and diabetes. This hasn’t prevented companies such as 23andMe Inc. from selling direct-to-consumer genetic testing, with claims that it offers beneficial health information.