Health

Corporations May Start Genetic Testing On Employees

| by Michael Allen
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Some corporations are considering genetic testing on their employees.

The genetic testing would be part of corporate wellness programs that already include nutrition, weight loss guidance, exercise instruction and health tips.

Employers could use genetic testing under the claim of looking out for their employees' health, but could also use it to cut health care costs.

"They are waiting for evidence that this genetic testing will change risks," Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz, of the benefits consulting firm Towers Watson, told The Associated Press.

The insurance company Aetna and Newtopia already markets physical exams and blood tests to companies so they can determine which employees are at possible risk for strokes, heart disease and diabetes.

The health giant wants to add genetic testing, help employees identify certain genes and coach them into healthier lifestyles with live coaching and apps.

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Dr. Michael Jensen, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, told AP that genetic testing for obesity is hard to track on a genetic level because most obesity is linked to diet and exercise.

Santa Clara University notes, "Advances in genetic research and technology, accelerated by the 15-year, $3 billion federally funded Human Genome Project which aims to decode the genetic makeup of humans, are likely to soon make available simplified, less costly tests able to detect a wide range of common genetic disorders, including those not necessarily associated with worksite exposure, such as predisposition to heart disease, cancer and manic depression. As such tests become available, it is anticipated that interest in testing will grow."

Sources: AP, Santa Clara University
Image Credit: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents