Letter: Reading the genetic tea-leaves

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The Independent Online
Sir: Genetic testing (report, 19 February) is a new, glamorous, unproven technique that may eventually predict, in part, an individual's life expectancy. By contrast diet, cholesterol, exercise and lifestyle are known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. As a doctor undertaking insurance medicals, I am surprised that this information is consistently ignored. By contrast, physical examination still requires me to exclude tertiary syphilis (pupil reactions and knee jerks) and tuberculosis (chest expansion).

I have the impression that insurance companies work in a manner that has, in many cases, more in common with reading tea-leaves than providing fair and accurate premiums for their clients. Genetic testing as it stands and will stand until a generation or more of individuals and families have been studied, adds more tea than science.

ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG

London SW7

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