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Personalized genetic testing from 23andMe

Recently, our anthropology class learned that we would have the option to participate in genetic testing from the company 23andMe.  This testing would potentially reveal both genetic ancestry and potential health risks.

Looking at their website, it's easy to become overwhelmed at the amount of things they test for, from the potential for migraines to the possibility of being a carrier for lethal diseases. But even so, I think it is not only worth it, but it's exciting. I'm most interested in  the testing for heritage. Most of my family is Southern European, from Croatia and Italy, but I've heard rumors of a distant grandfather who was a Swedish sea captain. While they cannot test for his occupation, it would be interesting to see if the genetic markers are there.

It would also be interesting to see the health information that comes with the tests. Apart from the risk factors, they test for genetic markers for other attributes, such as height, food preference,  and caffeine consumption. I'd really like to see if the data that comes back matches my actual profile.  As a 6'4" tall male, with a penchant for constantly drinking coffee, I would be mildly surprised if the results came back and said that I was genetically inclined towards neither.

As a class, we have not yet received our kits, and so we're all just working off of the data and information reported on their website. Personally, I think this will be a interesting experience to have, multiple people going through it at the same time, blogging about the process and sharing the results.

And as far as the testing goes, I am happy to contribute. Even if the data we receive back is not 100% conclusive on all points, we have each contributed a small portion to the better understanding of genetics and genetic testing. In a few years time, and with more participation, the tests could get much more accurate and comprehensive.

2 thoughts on “Personalized genetic testing from 23andMe

  1. Justin Beams

    I've read about the work 23&me does, and I personally have mixed feelings about genetic testing. I know the make up of my hereditary make-up well enough, just through family records and our ancestry which dates to 1614 to Leige Belgium. Having a fairly complete family lineage going back four centuries, and the research that went into tracing that lineage, I have a fair understanding of the potential for disease and health risks within my family line. But having access to the genetic tesing provided by 23&me opens up the ability to look into the potentiality of future developement of say heart disease, high blood pressure, even different forms of cancer seem to be a form of predestination created by humans. I don't totally agree with the potential reprecussions of genetic testing; knowing that your genetic make up is inclined towards say bone cancer is beneficial in the sense that you know that you have the potentiality for developing said disease. Preknowledge is not neccessarily a bad thing, but having medical prescience about future health possibilities could be used against and individual by corporations or health care providers. An insurace company is very much less likely to insure an individual who is predisposed genetically to certain diseases or health problems. There in is the problem with genetic testing, who truly has the rights to the results? You or everyone?

  2. lmwiggins

    What I find most interesting about the 23andMe genetic testing is the information that is available about ancestry. My family has a hobby of creating family trees, and, from what we have been able to tell from back-dating close to 300 years, we are primarily English, so seeing how that archival information matches up with the genetic information will be interesting. Though I'm personally not as inclinded to be aware of my susceptability to serious conditions such as cancer, I think that information on things such as drug reactions would be a good thing to be aware of. I think that it would also be interesting to see the genetic makeup of certain traits, such as hair color.

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