Monday, January 07, 2013
Me and 23andMe: Healthy Genetic Genealogy
I’ve discussed previously some genetic genealogy that I had done with FamilyTreeDNA, this time I did a test with the company 23andMe. Not only do they do matches with relatives based on over 1million markers but also test for some health traits that may lie within your genes.
In regard to the relative finder test, I didn’t receive any close matches and I actually have far fewer matches with 23andMe than I do with FamilyTreeDNA. So no luck tracing my paternal family there.
What was interesting was the ancestral regions from which my DNA supposedly belongs. It showed 99.5% European DNA with 0.5% unspecified. Given my physical appearance it is hardly surprising although I was surprised that no other ethnicities had even a small imprint on my DNA. Europe was further broken down with the majority belonging to Northern European and of that the regions that had the greatest bearing on my DNA was German, British Isles and France. With my known maternal ancestry this certainly fits, so it is nice to see some accuracy in that respect.
The health analysis is what really drew me to the 23andMe test. While it must be stated that they typically report increased or decreased risk ratios, which do not mean one or the other that you will or won’t get something, it is nice to know some of these in case preventative lifestyle measures can be undertaken to improve your prospects. While I am certainly not going to go into much detail as it really isn’t anybody else’s business, I was quite happy with my results. There was nothing outstanding for me to worry about, in fact it was rather reassuring. Although it doesn’t mean that I will be carefree in my approach to life. All of the factors that I had an increased risk of were well under 2 fold increased risk and therefore not of enormous concern. Some of these I already knew would potentially be on the cards due to other conventional health tests that I have undertaken, so once again a certain degree of accuracy. There were some with decreased risk ratios such as type-2 diabetes. However given that my maternal family has a history of it, and perhaps my paternal side negated that increased risk, I won’t be taking that as a passport to sugar oblivion. I still think I need to be careful. Part of the tests showed that I wasn’t the carrier of many genes associated with certain diseases so it is fantastic to know that I haven’t unwittingly passed something on to my own children. Some of the less scientifically validated linkage analysis, things I would consider fun factorials are good for a bit of a giggle such as I should be able to metabolise caffeine quicker than the average person, although I would say the suggestion that I should be a sprinter would be incorrect.
All in all the relative finder result was disappointing but that is through no fault of 23andMe, I just need people who are closely related to me to take the test. The historical linkage to places of origin even though they can be thousands and thousands of years ago, is nice for someone who only knows where half of my family comes from. This at least gives me some sense of where I am originally descended from. And the health analysis, while it cannot be classed as definitive, was great seeing as though I am missing half of a health history and it allows me to be proactive in lifestyle choices.