Genetics and Health: My 23 & Me Results
I was overly excited when my results came in! For 8 weeks, yes the process took 8 whole weeks, Jess and I waited for our ancestry and health report from Genetic Testing Company 23 & Me. The suspense was KILLING us, we wonder what was taking soooo long to process our info. Did they reject our sample? Did the pizza I ate before contaminate the test? Maybe it got lost among the thousands of test tubes they receive each day. And then, in the middle of our honeymoon, an email notifying us our reports were ready sent us over the moon. FINALLY, the report unlocking all of the secrets behind our ancestry and health was in our grasp..or so I thought..
I had a mix of emotions going through the report. On one hand, my ancestry result were very interesting. Not only does 23 & Me provide specifics on your ethnic background, but it also details how far back your respective ethnicities came from. Come to find out, about 5-6 generations ago, my ancestors were part Vietnamese. I had no idea and as a result, I am approximately 5 percent Viet! Not sure what I get for that but nonetheless I found the ancestry report the most informative of the reports provided by 23 & Me.
I was less impressed by the Health report. The health report is mainly comprised of whether or not I carry certain genetic markers that serve as early indicators for certain diseases or predispositions. The most significant indicator that popped on my report was for age related macular degeneration, meaning I have a higher chance of my vision may get worse as I get older. Other genetic markers tested include early onset Alzheimer’s, Celiac Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. Those tests are nice, but I was hoping for the report to describe more Information about nutrition best suited for my genes. There are very specialized companies out there who provide genetic specific diets and workout plans customized based on genetic information. I thought surely that 23 & Me would provide some insight in this area. But sadly the most they could say about my diet and fitness could be summarized in the following points:
1. My genes predispose you to weigh about average
2. My weight is likely to be similar on diets high or low in saturated fat with the same number of total calories
3. My genetic muscle composition is common in elite power athletes.
While I particularly enjoyed seeing that I have elite power athlete muscle composition, none of these indicators really tell me much. The report also predicted that I am more likely to get flush in the face when I consume alcohol (true) and that I am likely lactose tolerant (jury is out on that one). I was disappointed to receive such ambiguous answers on my health report. This report is useful identify markers related to genetic-based diseases, but beyond that I can’t imagine this report is useful in modifying or enhancing your nutrition or exercise routine.
With all all that said, there are other companies and websites out there who provide more information regarding how genetics affect nutrition and how our body consumes certain foods or how our body responds to different workouts. Through 23 & Me, I was able to generate a raw DNA data report that I could submit to other labs that offer the more in depth health report I was hoping for. I’ll save my experience with these reports for another blog, but this whole process brought up some thoughts about privacy and whether i should be putting my genetic info out there in the universe for others to see and use for whatever reason. Nay sayers often comment that once you’ve released your genetic data, it could be used for health insurance purposes or even cloning down the road! Definitely thoughts worth considering, but I can also see the benefits from a general health perspective too. If genetic testing could tell you which foods are ideal and could enhance my performance in life, wouldn’t you want to know about it? That’s where my head is at..for now. Who knows where it will be tomorrow.