23 and Me: DNA Testing

2 May

Have any of you heard of the website 23 and Me? I heard about it late last year and was intrigued. It supposedly gives you insight into your risks for certain health conditions and information about your ancestry.

23andMe is a DNA analysis service providing information and tools for individuals to learn about and explore their DNA. We use the Illumina OmniExpress Plus Genotyping BeadChip (shown here). In addition to the variants already included on the chip by Illumina, we’ve included our own, customized set of variants relating to conditions and traits that are interesting. Technical information on the performance of the chip can be found on Illumina’s website.

All of the laboratory testing for 23andMe is done in a CLIA-certified laboratory.

In February of this year, I decided to purchase a kit for only $99. I know genes aren’t necessarily the whole picture, and simply having a gene indicated in a certain illness does not mean you will actually get the illness. Sometimes, your environment or exposure to other variables can “activate” a gene, causing the disease. Nevertheless, I was curious to find out about my risk factor for certain illnesses and conditions, which I already have such as asthma, eczema, Celiac Disease …


A screen shot from some of my results – click to see larger image.

First, you get a kit in the mail. You have to fill a tube with your saliva and mail it in. The results tell you if you are at increased, decreased or typical risk for having certain conditions. These conditions include asthma, atopic dermatitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s, endometriosis, gallstones, Alzheimer’s, hypothyroidism, infertility and loads more.

I was not surprised by most of my health results. For ancestry results, if you set your privacy options in a certain way, it allows you to connect (if you choose) with people who share your DNA. It’s common to find 2nd-to-4th cousins from what I hear (and my own experience). I will say that I find out some VERRRRYYY interesting information through this side of the DNA testing. Science is crazy. So crazy, that I really don’t 100% understand all of my results, but it was still fascinating for me. For more information, check out their FAQs.

Is this something you would consider doing? Have you ever done any type of DNA testing?

UPDATE: Because I get a lot of searches directing here about screening for Celiac Disease through 23 and me, I want to clarify something.  23 and me can tell you if you have the genes associated with Celiac Disease. However, it is estimated that 30% of the population has these genes and yet only 1 in 133 people actually has Celiac Disease.   DNA testing is not a diagnosis.   If you think you have Celiac Disease, you should talk to your doctor about testing BEFORE you go on a gluten-free diet.

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15 Responses to “23 and Me: DNA Testing”

  1. Kathryn Chastain Treat May 2, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I have heard about it but never done it. I did recently do a nutrigenomics test which looks for mutations in the methylation (detox) pathways. From what I have gathered without watching the DVD or talking with directly yet, I need B12, B12, and more B12.

  2. realfoodbryn May 2, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I find this stuff fascinating. I am really considering getting a kit, but I think I would end up blowing a whole paycheck to get kits for my family :)

    • Amanda May 2, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      You should do it! And yeah, now I’m wanting my entire family to do it, also :) Luckily, most of them have agreed to on their own free will and I have no children … so they all get to pay for their own kit :)

  3. Molly May 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I find this really interesting! I’m also interested by projects to sequence the human microbiome too—e.g. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ubiome-sequencing-your-microbiome. Right now I’m too broke to try either, but in the future, maybe…

  4. Mary Kate May 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I’ve been considering this recently, and only in small part for the health assessment. Mostly I’m just curious to see what I can find out. Glad to hear someone’s story.

  5. Food Allergies Etcetera May 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Cool! I had never heard of this before. My GP just put in a referral for Genetic Counselling for me. I’m wondering what the difference between that and this service might be.

  6. Katy@TheOpenDoor May 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    I think this is interesting, too. But I’m also kind of a worrier and can imagine getting worked up if something “scary” popped up on my results. Even though you are supposed to use the results to possibly prevent some of these possibilities from even happening, I know I’d probably let myself get bummed out.

    • Amanda May 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      I hear you. I’m a total worrier, too. Some of the scarier health conditions come in a locked report and you have to kind of jump through hoops to read them (like breast cancer and a few others) and they always remind you that having the genes doesn’t guarantee you will get it, nor does the absence of the genes imply you WON’T get it. But I can definitely see getting worried about some answers.

  7. Homa May 10, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    Just an fyi, the first link to 23andme in your post is missing http in front of it so the link is broken. Anyway, it does sound fascinating! It is not something I could splurge on but it sounds like a fun gift for someone aside from all the grim information they could receive. Maybe someone really into genealogy would get a kick out of it. :)

    • Amanda May 10, 2013 at 9:23 am #

      Thanks for catching that, I fixed it :)

      And yeah, there is the potential for some negative information, but at least your genes aren’t (usually) 100% involved in any given disease, so it can also make people aware that they’re at risk for something and allow them to take better care of themselves in other ways. I didn’t find out anything too major health-wise (luckily) but for the more scary health conditions, the reports are actually locked and you have to go through a bunch of security type things to unlock them. Then, they make genetic counseling available to you. It’s definitely interesting – and crazy how accessible this sort of thing has become!

      Oh, and I received those mixes the other day! Thank you for that and the book :)

  8. rachelmeeks May 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Ever since the whole Angelena Jolie thing, my mom’s really wanted to do some kind of DNA test. I think she’ll love this, thanks!

  9. Scott Rozell January 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Just so you know, you can’t get Celiac Disease without having a immune response to gluten (aka Gluten Sensitivity). In fact, the latest research says Gluten Sensitivity only affects caucasians. That means it’s in our DNA. That’s why it is showing up in your 23andMe results as it will in mine.

    You are also suppose to get a list of other foods you should avoid. I got my food “sensitivity” testing performed by the top lab in the country, Quest Diagnostics. The results I got from Quest should match up with the results I will get back from 23andMe. There are a lot of foods on my list, as with everyone I had tested.

    Ps… When you get tested through Quest Diagnostics, your insurance company pays for it.

    • Amanda January 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

      Right… Celiac Disease IS an immune response to gluten. I know it’s in my DNA and I didn’t expect it NOT to show up in my results since I have Celiac Disease. As far as other foods I should “avoid” I already know, since I have anaphylactic reactions to them. I’m not very interested in limiting my diet beyond what I already know I can’t eat.


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