23andMe.com

23 and me


A year or more ago, Partner and I bought into a very bad gene-testing thing, which told us (ridiculously) that we were both of Iraqi origin. It turned out that the test was the same one that the FBI uses: it’s very good for identification, but it doesn’t really give you any information on heritage, or disease, or anything else.

Well, okay. I only paid about $40 for testing for the two of us, so I got what I paid for.

Now: behold! The much more reputable 23andMe.com is offering its much more comprehensive testing for only $99 per person! They give you info on your heritage, and your Neanderthal inheritance, and your likelihood to develop genetic conditions. They are very thorough.

For Xmas, I bought lifetime memberships for both myself and Partner.

Well, my results have come in. I can summarize them as follows:

1)    I have DNA.

2)    It appears to be human.

I have no genetic predisposition toward either Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. This lowers my chances of contracting either, although nothing is certain.

I have a heightened susceptibility toward several cancers, including melanoma, prostate cancer, and especially stomach cancer. (There’s lots of cancer in my family, but none of these three. I am fascinated by this. There are risk factors that I can avoid for all three, and I need to think about this.)

I am genetically sensitive to the medication Coumadin / Warfarin, which is a commonly-prescribed blood thinner, which means that a regular dose would be too much for me, and I should be prescribed a lower dose. (I should tell my doctor. But will he listen, or just smile and pretend to listen?)

I have a three-times heightened likelihood to develop an especially nasty kind of glaucoma. Uh-oh. I’ve always had vision problems.

I am slightly taste-blind, especially toward bitter tastes. This is exactly correct. I love bitter flavors, and this is probably because I can’t taste them very well. People with “supertaste” can’t stand bitter tastes; they spit them out immediately.

I probably have blue eyes, moderately straight hair with a wave, B-positive blood, and I do not tend toward male pattern baldness. Correct, correct, correct, and correct.

They’ve churned up my national heritage too. I have a lot of northern European ancestry (my mitochondrial DNA hails from Doggerland, a place submerged beneath the North Sea, halfway between England and the Netherlands). I have a drop of Italian (not much), and lots of crazy eastern European (Czech, Hungarian, Russian, “Balkan”), and a surprising amount of Scandinavian.

Also I share tiny bits of other lineages. A tenth of a percent of something that might be Ashkenazi Jewish. A tenth of a percent of something that might be sub-Saharan African.

Gandhari says in the Mahabharata: Origins are obscure.

But sometimes we learn things about our origins, and they become a little clearer.


 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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