Would you want to know how you’re going to die?
That’s the question the consumer health Web site drkoop.com asked in June for its more than 1.3 million registered members. More than two-thirds of the respondents answered yes to the question, "If it were possible to find out how you were going to die through genetic screening, would you want to know?" The other third said they would not want to know.
The response, according to a statement from C. Everett Koop, MD, former U.S. Surgeon General and chairman of drkoop.com, demonstrates that Americans are aware of the implications of the recent genome mapping announcement. "Americans are aware largely because they have been told about possible scientific advances that are actually decades away," said Koop.
"What has not been studied are the ethical implications that will ensue if we do not find a way to keep the genetic makeup of each individual in total privacy," he added. "This issue poses substantial questions not just for the health profession, but for each and every person."