On November 25 I watched with horror as the FDA announced they were investigating 23andMe. I did the spit test as soon as I got my kit in the mail in October, but let the kit ride around with me in the car for a couple of weeks. When the announcement went out, I didn't have my results. I was confident I would not get my results now that the FDA was intervening - and I only had myself to blame. Procrastination is my worst enemy.
At 5:56 pm on Thanksgiving Eve (11/27) I received an email from 23andMe that said:
"Your 23andMe Results Are Ready!"
I immediately dove in. I was eager to find any genetic enemies that were lurking in my DNA.
I'm 99% European. And mostly from Northern Europe. I knew that. From my family oral history. And a book that traces my dad's family from our arrival (from England) on this continent in the 1600's all the way to my paternal grandmother. Oh, and if you can look at me and kinda guess my origins: I have reddish blonde hair, blueish eyes, pale skin and lots of freckles.
My genetic assessment says that I am likely to be overweight, but I am heavier than my genes estimate I should be (remember that whole quantified self study I'm struggling with?). I have some elevated risks. Breast cancer. Kidney disease. Parkinson's. But a lower risk of things like Pulmonary Fibrosis, which I have seen in my immediate family. 23andMe estimated I have straight hair (it's curly) and wet ear wax (I think it's dry??) and that I have a lot of freckles (bingo).
They got some stuff right. They got some stuff wrong. Like just about everything, you can interpret the data however you want. In every case, my elevated risk level was a fractional increase. The increases were so small that I believe any genetic predispositions should be taken with a grain of salt.
All in all, I found the exercise a fun diversion. I don't believe it taught be anything the FDA should be worried about. There isn't enough information, or certainty, to get me to make life-altering decisions. It will help me have more candid conversations with my doctor about what's likely to happen, but I like to think we all know that nothing in life is a guarantee. And that we should discuss any life-altering decisions with a doctor, friend or family member -- not just a website.
In the meantime, I'll use my slightly higher risk of narcolepsy to justify my propensity to fall asleep during movies and I'll keep working on my procrastination and prioritization issues (and I didn't need a kit to remind me of those issues).