On February 1st I sent a tube of my spit through the mail with the goal to have my genetics explored via the services offered by 23andMe. Today I got an email saying that my results were complete! And now we shall commence with examining the results.
23andMe, for those of you who don’t know, is a DNA testing service that provides customers an insight into their DNA. Pay for a kit, receive it, spit into the special tube, and send it back and within 6 – 8 weeks, you’ll receive an online report detailing 118 disease risks, 55 traits, 20 drug responses, and 44 carrier statuses.
Knowing a bit about the general health characteristics of my family, I had a few conjectures regarding what I thought the results would show in terms of disease risk:
What I thought would be higher risk than average – diabetes (it’s on both sides of my family), Alzheimer’s (also on both sides of my family), kidney stones and gout (my dad’s had both of these), and possibly high blood pressure (my dad has this, my mom’s had it intermittently)
What I thought would be lower risk than average – the cancers (there’s not a lot of any specific type or much cancer at all in my family) and coronary heart disease (NONE of this in the family).
I also had some guesses as to what some of my trait results would be:
I’m guessing my bitter taste perception is poor due to my extreme liking of broccoli and Brussels sprouts and the like.
If my anosmia is genetic, I’m guessing I’ll lack the genetic component responsible for detecting isovaleric acid, a sweaty-type smell.
I’m also guessing that I’ll show up as sensitive to at least a few of the drugs they examine, as I’ve had major reactions to pretty much every drug I’ve ever been on.
So those were my conjectures. Want to see what my DNA really says? Let’s break it down by category.
Pretty much every single one of my major* results surprised me. I have almost double the average risk for—wait for it—gallstones. I also have elevated risk for macular degeneration, glaucoma, restless leg syndrome, and primary biliary cirrhosis.
Even more interesting to me are my decreased risk diseases. Alzheimer’s and diabetes, the two major issues in my family? Genetically, I’m at decreased risk for both of them (I’m at nearly half the average genetic risk for Alzheimer’s). The two ailments of my father, gout and kidney stones, are two other diseases for which I’m at decreased risk. I’m also at low risk for rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus (sorry, House), and endometriosis.
A few things for which I have average risk: obesity, coronary heart disease (interesting…), chronic kidney disease, atrial fibrillation.
Now we come to what, in my opinion, was the really fun stuff to look at. Here are a few that surprised me/were pretty interesting.
As I expected, I have “about an 80% chance of not being able to taste certain bitter flavors.” This makes me “taste blind” to the bitterness of foods of the cabbage family.
I am “likely tolerant” of lactose, which makes sense. I’ve never had a problem with dairy, even when I used to drink at least a glass of milk a day.
According to one marker for intelligence, my IQ performance should be about 3 points higher than average.
I am a “likely sprinter,” which means that I’ve got one gene that is turned on in a type of muscle fiber used for power-based sports (a fast-twitch muscle fiber). I’ve never worked out with sprints (I’ve always run long distances)…perhaps I should give it a try.
I AM sensitive to isovaleric acid, the sweaty-type odor. Perhaps my anosmia is physical/structural and not genetic? Obviously this one marker isn’t responsible for all olfaction, but still.
I have typical sensitivity to pain.
I am at slightly higher odds of developing tuberculosis if I were to be exposed to it.
DRUGGGS! This whole category surprised me. Of the 20 drug responses they test for, the only drug for which I showed increased sensitivity to was Warfarin, a blood thinner.
What am I missing…oh yeah, the carrier statuses. Of the 44 tested for, I don’t carry any of the diseases/deficiencies.
So what does all this mean, then? It probably won’t be bad genes that kill me, so I’ll either have to slog through to old age or dive in front of a bus.
*23andMe denotes “elevated risk” and “reduced risk” as cases where an individual’s risk due to genetics is 20% or more above average for the disease or 20% or more below the average for the disease, respectively.
So 23andMe has a bunch of little surveys you can opt to take. Once you answer them you’re shown the stats for each question based on the people who have already taken the surveys.
Three interesting tidbits about our fellow humans. My answers are starred green.
IN OTHER NEWS! New plan for completing my walking distance goal this year: because I finally am working a full-time job, I can no longer walk my 10 (or 12 or 15 or 22) miles per day, ‘cause that obviously takes a long time to do. So I decided to count running distance toward my final goal. To reach my 2,500 I’ll need to either:
a) run 5 miles four days a week (one day off during the week) and two 15-mile walks on the weekends, or
b) run 10k (approximately 6.2 miles) four days a week and two 12- or 13-mile walks on the weekends.
I’ll probably do b) while the days are still relatively short, but once it’s light longer I’ll probably switch to a).
As I said on Facebook, random large sums of money appearing in one’s checking account are awesome, except when one does not know the origin of said random large sums.
Yeah, I decided to randomly check my RBC account up in Canada (I’d left exactly $2.90 in there just to keep the account open until tax time) and discovered that that amount had been supplemented an additional $1,900 or so. The record says the money came from UWO, but that’s all the more info I can get.
It was deposited at the end of November; I think I’ll wait until the first of the year to see if another deposit is made at the end of this month and if so, I guess I’ll email somebody there and ask what’s going on. It might all be an error, who knows.
But that would be pretty freaking sweet if it weren’t.
There are some good paying jobs down here that I qualify for, but until I’m hired somewhere, money = nonexistent.
And I want that DNA test thingy; it was supposed to be my present to myself for finishing my Master’s but I never ordered it ‘cause shipping to Canada was like $50 extra.
So we’ll see!
Check this out: https://www.23andme.com/
I’m totally considering getting this done as my graduation present to myself.
Assuming, you know, I pass my thesis defense.
It looks pretty legit, and things like this have always interested me.
$99 seems reasonable enough, too, especially as a reward for two years of hell.