I had a DNA test for genetic health and ancestry

You may have seen me posting on Facebook about this over the past week or 2, but I recently participated in a DNA test for genetic testing on a review campaign with 23andMe. I was intrigued by the idea of simply spitting in a cup, sending it off to a lab, and having tons of answers about my health and ancestry… but at the same time I was terrified. I went back and forth on if I should do it… curiosity got the best of me and now I am SO glad I went through with it.

DNA test

23andMe provides over 240 health reports and with over a quarter of a million members, they’re the largest DNA-based ancestry service worldwide. When they first started, the genetic testing cost $1000 (eeek!), but over time they’ve been able to bring it down to a completely reasonable and affordable $100. In 2008, Times magazine named them Invention of the Year! And for good reason…

DNA test

A little kit arrives at your front door and the directions are super easy. Just spit into the little tube! It takes a few minutes to get enough, then you seal it up, put it back in the box, and ship it off to 23andMe for your DNA test.

It takes 4-6 weeks for them to get and analyze your DNA. I think I had my results around 5 weeks. When I got the email that my health results were in, my stomach sank. I was nervous! My grandma had ovarian cancer and I’ve been wanting to know if I carry the BRCA mutations linked to ovarian and breast cancer… Alzheimer’s is also all over my family so I was curious about that, too.

Are those things you really want to know?! I do. I want to be able to prepare or take action. If you don’t want to know, you can still to the DNA test from 23andMe–those results (along with Parkinson’s) are kept locked in your account and to see your results you have to read through some information and click a button admitting that you truly do want to see your results. I clicked.

BRCA mutations for ovarian and breast cancer: NOT PRESENT. Whooooooooo!

Alzheimer’s: I DO have ONE copy of the gene that’s linked to Alzheimer’s. Okay, it sucked to see that in print, but honestly I knew it was coming–it’s all over my family–and actually the results were still kind of a relief. Why? Because I was expecting the results to say something like “YOU’RE FREAKING DOOMED,” or a more professional “80% chance.” With one copy of the gene, I have a 12.5% chance (where the average risk is 7.1%).

The health report is so interesting. It tells you things you have an elevated risk for, things you have a decreased risk for, and what percentage or if the variant is absent or present. The reports on each item also go into detail with information about the scientific studies on that disease/trait/genes and how they came to their results.

Some of my fun stuff:

  • I have increased sensitivity to the drugs wafarin and phenytoin (epilepsy drug)
  • Normal ability to break down acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct of alcohol and cigarette smoke.
  • Fast metabolizer of caffeine.
  • Higher odds of Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting (PONV).
  • Does not flush from alcohol consumption.
  • IF I smoke, I’m likely to smoke more (I don’t.)
  • I’d likely have a higher IQ (by 4-7 points) if I had been breastfed.
  • Decreasing calorie intake and increasing physical activity through walking is not associated with weight loss. {Oh, great!}
  • Decreased sensitivity to pain (hello, 58.5 hours of unmedicated labor!)
  • I can blame 7lb of my weight on my genes 😉

The report tells me things like the likely birthweight of my children, adiponectin levels (hormone that breaksdown fat), expected breast size, food preference, height, reading ability, response to dieting, hair thickness, longevity, memory, avoidance of errors, measures of intelligence, and sooo so so much more. It goes over kidney disease, endometreosis, migraines, restless leg, diabetes, etc. I tell you, the information is never ending! And before you feel overwhelmed or nervous to see the information about yourself, 23andMe notes how confident they are with the current research and how accurate your results are. You can read info about the related studies yourself.

DNA test

AND that’s only HALF OF IT! They also report on your ancestry. This took a few more days to come in, but it’s just as interesting. I’ve had 3 people reach out to me because 23andMe says we’re distant relatives (like 5th cousins) and it’s SO interesting to see their background–actually, 23andMe says I have 989 distant relatives in their database!!! You can turn this feature off for more privacy if you want.

DNA test

Fun ancestry stuff:

  • I have 3% neanderthal DNA (average is 2.7%)–maybe this is why I’m short?!
  • On my mother’s line, I have ancestors from Europe/Near East from the past few hundred years that traces back to eastern Africa around 50,000 years ago.
  • Main country of ancestry: Norway. Also, Denmark, UK, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Spain.

DNA test

99.9% European

On 23andMe you can also create a family tree, see your other DNA relatives in the database, compare your genes to your connections, take surveys, read about research, and use health and ancestry tools. You can even make a DNA melody… your genes are turned into a song 😉

I’ve already told so many people about this because it’s too cool. We’ll be buying a kit for my husband… my mom already bought 2 kits (one for her and one for my grandma) and next she’ll buy two more (one for my dad and one for my brother). Can’t wait to see their results and compare! Two other people from my facebook page discussion also bought kits! If you want to buy a kit, I do have a referral link (and your second kit is 20% off).

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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