23 and me

Friday, January 31, 2014
For those who don't know, 23 and me provide DNA-based health and ancestry results from a small saliva sample kit you do at home and send in.

I was immediately taken with the idea of knowing more about my DNA and Adam was intrigued too so we ordered our kits back in December and sent them in.

In the time between sending our kits in and receiving our results the FDA decided to shut down the health portion of the 23andme testing (you can do a little google news-ing to read why) and because of that you can now only receive your raw genetic health data along with your interpreted ancestry information. Luckily we got our kits in before the deadline. 

Today i got the results from the health portion so thought i'd give you a little update.

Firstly there is SO much information you receive that its almost overwhelming but really quite interesting to look through.

The health portion of the results comes in 4 portions; health risks, drug response, inherited conditions and traits.

Your health risk results are split into higher risk, lower risk and average risk. Some of mine were as follows-

A good thing to remember is that these results are based solely on your DNA and studies done on those genotypes. It doesn't take into account lifestyle or environmental causes of the diseases so its not set in stone that you will or won't suffer from them.

The drug response portion isn't quite as straight forward as there can be multiple markers for each drug interactive trait but they do a great job at explaining all of the markers and your likeliness of each drug response ranging from anaesthetics to alcohol to warfarin.

A couple of interesting things i found in my results were that i am a slow metabolizer of caffeine, meaning caffeine remains in my body for longer and can have adverse health risks. To me, this makes perfect sense; i can only have one cup of coffee a day and i can never drink energy drinks or i get chest pains and the jitters. Its a joke among my friends that i cannot be allowed to have coffee or energy drinks or i will be unbearable to be around (i did a monster powershot once and was messed up for an entire day).

The other thing i found interesting was the antidepressant response. It suggested i have a higher chance or depression remission when treated with certain drugs.

My inherited conditions came back with only one variant present and that was for Hemochromatosis, a condition where you body absorbs too much iron which can sometimes cause problems. A little reading online suggested that people with my genotype could have symptoms of this condition when eating meat so my chosen diet could maybe be preventing this from being an issue.

Some information is locked and you have to agree to the terms and conditions before you can view your results (BRCA, alzheimers etc) so you can choose not to know certain things if you like.

Among the trait results a few i found interesting were my fast twitch muscle fibre results stating people with that genotype made better endurance athletes than sprinters, my genotype's IQ is raised 6-7 points on average when breastfed, i have a lower risk of early menopause and i'm much less efficient at learning to avoid errors. A really interesting range of results from some that could seem quite severe to others that are just plain bizarre.

The full ancestry breakdown isn't yet complete on my profile but it does tell me that my maternal haplogroup is H5 which i've read is commonly from Lebanon and Georgia. Could this explain the red hair and hummus dependency?

Over all i'm really glad we did it just because its so interesting, i don't feel like i need to run out to the doctor and tell him i'm dying of hemochromatosis and heart disease, i think the only thing i'd be interested in sharing with the doctor would be the drug responses if they seemed relevant.

I think everyone has that curiosity about whats inside of them and where they come from and to me thats just indulging that curiosity a little and is harmless. Getting my full ancestry report back will be really interesting, especially to see if that haplogroup is relevant.

I know DNA testing isn't for everyone and thats fine, to me it just quenched my curiosity and provided some interesting information that i otherwise wouldn't know. I'd say avoid these tests if you are a bit of a hypochondriac but otherwise i don't see any harm as long as you take any concerning results to your doctor before making any bizarre life choices.

I've not fully read through everything yet but just wanted to make a quick update... this could take a while.

If you're interested in getting your own 23&me kit you can find them here!


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