View more on these topics

Genetic tests no impediment to cover

At the recent Race for Life events that took place around the country, about 110,000 women ran to raise money for breast cancer research. Events like this remind us that cancer research in the UK is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions. We should congratulate everyone who took part, especially the organisers who did a fantastic job.

Despite relying on charity, breakthroughs in cancer research are contributing significantly to improvements in sufferers’ life expectancy in two important ways – better treatment and earlier detection though greater awareness and improved screening.

As the NHS needs to use its financial resources in the most effective way possible, screening people who are most at risk makes sense. As a result, genetic tests are becoming more important.

This is why the recent news of a breakthrough in genetic research was hailed as the most significant advance in the fight against breast cancer for a decade.

Four new genes have been identified that increase the chances of women developing breast cancer. For two of the genes, FGFR2 and TNRC9, there is a 20% increase in the risk of breast cancer if one gene malfunctions and between 40% and 60% if both do so.

To put this in context, one in 11 women will develop breast cancer in their lives, compared with one in six women with both these genes. If a mass screening test can be developed to identify them, this will help us focus our attention on those who are most at risk.

Sadly, mention the word genetics and many consumers think of mad scientists, Frankenstein food and mice with human ears growing on their backs. And some commentators have add-ed to these fears when it comes to genetic screening’s implications for insurance.

Indeed, when the BBC announced news of the recent genetic breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer, it included a misleading report that women testing positive may not be able to get insurance.

So it’s worth reminding ourselves about the true picture. To date, the government’s Genetics and Insurance Committee has only approved one test, Huntington’s Disease for life cover. But the Concordat and Moratorium worked out by the industry and Whitehall mean consumers don’t have to disclose the results of any genetic test unless they are taking out over £500,000 of life cover, £300,000 of critical illness cover or £30,000 a year of income protection.

So consumers who test positive for genetic conditions can still take out generous cover to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, the fight against cancer goes on. It was re-cently reported that the US aims to prevent all cancerrelated deaths by 2015. Let’s hope it hits this target.


PMPA unveils buy-to-let trackers

The Professional Mortgage Packagers Alliance has unveiled three buy-to-let trackers from BM Solutions. They are available up to 85% LTV for two years from completion. Two of the deals feature early repayment charges of 6% in year one and 5% in year two. The third has ERCs of 6%.

Proof that first-timers need brokers

A recent report by AA Legal Services highlights the lack of knowledge first-time buyers have about the property buying process.

FSA approved firms dropped by 688 last year

The Financial Services Authority’s annual report today revealed the number of approved firms dropped by 688 to 28,281.The number of approved persons fell by 2,455 to 164,821.The FSA’s annual report slows the regulator levied £14.66m in financial penalties during the year compared to £17.43m last year.Of the 74 targets the FSA set itself for 2006/07, […]

Eco-home gets five stars

The Building Research Es-tablishment has unveiled the UK’s first home to be awarded five stars under the Department for Communities and Lo-cal Government’s sustainable homes code.The house was built by Scottish de-veloper Stewart Milne Group and christened Sigma House. Its design is intended to be viable for a large scale commercial roll-out.Sigma House boasts solar […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up