23andme is an affordable way to partially map your genome, telling you your ancestral background, predispositions to certain diseases, and the traits and characteristics of your DNA. I personally believe it was well worth the $199 it costs, and if you are looking to advance your own health and take the steps necessary to better yourself for the future, then this service is for you.
Sign up and Delivery
The way that you sign up is very streamlined, and you simply make a profile that they will use to identify the sample you send in. After paying the fee, you are shipped an express package that contains a vial, stabilizer, return labelling and sample bag. The delivery was extremely quick, and I got the package in 6 days. The instructions are clear, and you can easily return the package the same day to be shipped back, however I held off for a few days.
Providing the Sample
This is the fun part. Get ready to spit. As previously mentioned, there is a test tube supplied in which you spit to a fill line (more like drool) and then close the cap to pour in the stabilizing liquid. Don’t make the mistake I did and play around with the cap, as you will spill some stabilizer into the tube and then will have to guesstimate how much saliva to produce. As soon as this is complete, place the sample into the sample bag, remove the adhesive tape on the box, close the box, and go to a local post office to ship it. Shipping is free and easy, and now you wait.
Getting Your Results
It took about 7 weeks for my results, but a friend of mine got his in under 6. They will e-mail you that the results are in, proceed to the 23andme site, and you will be able to view them.
You will be able to see where your maternal and paternal lines originated, and trace your ethnicity. I was astounded to find out that I have 0.2% North African DNA, along with other percentages of western and eastern European.
You will have to “opt-in” to receive this information, as for some, it can be life altering; so if you don’t want to see this, you don’t have to. I recommend it though, because then there are actions you can take. There are tests with different confidence levels (4 stars being scientifically backed, 3 stars meaning that they are in the process of legitimizing the study scientifically) that will determine your likelihood for certain genetic disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Celiac Disease (although I’m sure you’d know if you had this), Hereditary Cancers and Cardiomyopathy, and a few others. Very thankfully, the variants of the genes that code for all of these disorders are not present for me. But even if they were, I would take the information and take precautionary steps in order to minimize the environmental risks for developing these disorders.
Inherited Conditions and Drug Response
You are also made aware of any Inherited conditions you may have that are genetic. Again, I have none, but these are likely things you would have already known before taking this gene test.
Drug responses were interesting, and it shows you if you have typical, heightened, or reduced responses to certain drugs. It was interesting to see my results below.
Lastly, your traits are examined that can be determined from your DNA, and likely you will know many of these things already. However, it was interesting to see that my muscle fibre type is that of a sprinter, meaning that i was genetically predisposed to lift weights and play positions in sports that require short bursts of effort (hence why I guess I played goaltender in hockey). Pretty cool that even though we won’t know it, we will be better at certain sports and activities all because of what our parents gave us.
I would definitely recommend getting this testing done, as it is extremely cheap for what you are getting, and for those interested in finding out more about themselves, there is no substitute from knowing your own genetics. This is something that even a decade ago would’ve been impossible for the cost, and I was very happy that I got it done late last year.