My 23andMe Results

Yesterday I talked about why I did a DNA test at 23andMe, a personal genomics company. Today I’ll discuss some of my results.

23andMe provides what’s called a “genotyping” service. It’s not a full sequence of your entire genome (i.e. your genetic makeup, coded by DNA/RNA), but a mapping of the main areas of interest. Although just a fraction of your genome is analysed by 23andMe, you get back a lot of unique data about yourself. Indeed the vast majority of the human genome has not yet been deciphered by the scientific community, so what 23andMe analyses is a good portion of what is currently understood about it.

So what did I discover about myself? There are two main parts to the results: health data (such as disease risks and traits) and ancestry information.

On the health side, as to be expected I did have some elevated risks. Thankfully nothing major. The two main risks were not a surprise. The report stated that I had a higher risk of diabetes type 1. Which I actually have (more on that in a minute). It also pointed to a slightly increased risk of melanoma. Since I have pale skin and basically do not tan, that wasn’t a big surprise either.

I mentioned yesterday that I got diabetes type 1 almost exactly five years ago. The 23andMe report states that I had a 4.1% risk of getting it. Although that’s still quite low, it’s four times higher than the average risk of 1%. So there was a small but significant genetic predisposition to diabetes in my body.

I’m more interested in what actually triggered the diabetes type 1 in me, since 4% was still a very low risk of getting it. Was it caused by a virus, as seems to be the current leading theory about this disease? Was it something in the environment? Was it the stress I was under at that time? The 23andMe report doesn’t answer any of those questions. Indeed, I may never know the answer to these questions. One thing I’m sure of though: if there are answers in the future, genomics will provide them. Perhaps even a cure… one can only hope.

The 23andMe report also reported on certain traits I have (such as bitter taste perception) and drug response probabilities. An example of the latter: I have an increased sensitivity to Warfarin, a blood thinner. That type of data may be an important thing for a doctor to note in one’s future healthcare.

Overall, the 23andMe health data is very interesting and useful. I’m still digging my way through it, although I might need the help of a “Genetic Counsellor” (yes, really) to interpret it properly. Apparently that is a career role on the up!

Probably the biggest benefit from my 23andMe results was that it was a bridge into my ancestry. At the high level, I’m 100% European – I have no African or Asian ancestors. Although it obviously doesn’t go back to the beginning of humanity, since we all come from Africa if you go back far enough! More specifically, I have 911 “DNA relatives” in 23andme, including a couple of anonymous “1st-2nd cousins.”

The most pleasant surprise of getting my 23andMe results was a personal message I received from a distant relative in the US. He pointed me to a genealogy group for my family name on the paternal side, McManus. It’s at a website called My Family Tree DNA. I’ve since signed up to that group and can use my 23andme results to find out even more about my ancestry. I’ve befriended my new relative on Facebook and we’ve got a fascinating email exchange going.

So there you have it, my experience so far with personal genomics. But I have a feeling there’s much more to come. The journey into my genome has only just begun…

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