When I found out I was accepted into 23andme’s depression/bipolar study, I was excited! Not only would I get to be part of a study that could have a huge positive impact for generations of people with those conditions, but I also would get the highest level of genetic testing and reports from 23andme for free!
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23andme Wellness Reports
I got my reports recently and have enjoyed reading through them. Their full package (Health + Ancestry) currently gives about 80 reports within 5 categories. I’d love to share some of my result highlights with you, and then tell you if I think the service is worth the price!
For the Wellness category, I felt the reports were all accurate, from the fact that I drink less caffeine than average to details of my sleep habits. The one that really caught my eye in this category was “Muscle Composition”.
WHAT?! This was a neat discovery. I don’t have any plans to become an Olympic sprinter, and the implications of this variant for non-elite athletes isn’t completely understood. However, as I work on improving my physical fitness, this is something that will be fun to keep in mind as I push myself.
In the Traits reports, I learned about how my DNA influences physical appearance, preferences, and physical responses. A few of these missed the mark. Two of those were “Likely no dimples” and “Likely no cleft chin”, but I have a dimple in both cheeks and a cleft chin! Some that it got right was fair-skinned, lots of freckles, and my ring fingers are, indeed, longer than my index finger.
Within the Genetic Health Risks section, I was happy to see that I don’t have a genetic proclivity for Parkinson’s Disease and only a slightly increased risk for Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. For the Carrier Status reports, I was relieved to see that the only variant detected was for “Hereditary Fructose Intolerance”.
Ready? I saved the best for last… Ancestry. This was the one that I was really jazzed to read, and it contained shocking information! First of all, I can now joke that I really am part caveman!!! Ha!!
But wait…. Here’s where the real shock set in… I have always been told that I have Jewish and Cherokee Indian in my bloodline. Nope. Not a drop. I am 100% European. WHOA!
I’ve always felt a kinship with those two populations because I thought they were part of my history, so this news made me sad. However, I am now even more inspired to dig into my genealogy to find out how this misinformation came to be shared as truth and find out who my ancestors really were. The breakdown of my European background was interesting. I knew I had some British roots. Genealogy research on my maternal side has shown that I am related to William Brewster, an Englishman who came to America on the Mayflower as one of their leaders, as well as Abraham Lincoln, who was mostly English. My father’s last name is French, so seeing French listed did not surprise me, though I thought the percentage would be higher. I’m curious to see if learning more about my ancestry will shed light on the German and Irish possibilities, and I want to find out about that 2% Scandinavian because I had no clue that was in there! I’ve never looked into my genealogy on my own and only know little tidbits of my maternal side and nothing on my paternal side.
Other 23andme Benefits
Another benefit to this type of testing is that I now have my “raw data” to run through other services if I wish. I’ve been checking out the free options on Genetic Life Hacks and was delighted to find that I don’t have a hereditary disorder that runs in my family, though I’m a carrier. No more periodic blood tests needed to check for it. Yay!
Remember me talking about nature vs. nurture in my recent “Mad Mama” post? Using my raw data, I learned about some of my “nature”; I have a variation in a serotonin receptor that has several associations that relate to stress, depression, panic, and personality. I also found out that I have a slightly higher risk of obesity and difficulty maintaining weight loss without high-intensity exercise. (Goodie!) On that same free site, I even learned that I have a rare genetic predisposition to not respond to certain cancer/chemo drugs and immunosuppressants, and it told me what antidepressants I might respond to better! Wow!
So, would I be satisfied with 23andme if I’d paid for my testing? Yes! The site is easy to navigate, and I love the extra bits of background information it gives with your results to help you understand the implications and connections. I was bummed that several things were incorrect in the Traits category, but it didn’t concern me too much, as they are simply “educated guesses”, unlike other parts of the reports that are straight-up scientific reporting. I do feel the price is a little high, but it is in line with similar companies. 23andme offers a nice mix of health and ancestry data, which is unique when compared to your other options.
I do have one word of warning. You need to be a good spitter because it was much harder than I thought it would be to muster up enough saliva for that testing tube!! I was sniffing chocolate chip cookies like crazy to try to get my mouth to water!! (It worked. Ha!)
If you want to learn more about yourself, order your 23andme kit!
Have you ever done one of these genetics tests? Do you have a favorite genealogy website?