My 23 and Me Results

23andme-kit

My company had a special perk, a $30 coupon off  the $200 23andMe  package in a benefits email that went out a little while back. I used the coupon and purchased the Health + Ancestry Service. For the most part, this just saved me shipping and handling and a few extra dollars off the price of the package. I thought that I would share some of my thoughts and results.

First off, the box shows up about a week after purchase. It took about 10 minutes to gather the saliva sample, add the stabilizer, and pack it up to go to the lab via USPS. You can’t eat or drink before giving a saliva sample and you need a lot of saliva, so be prepared and strictly follow the directions in the box. The box reads that it will take about 6 weeks to get the results, but my results were ready in about 2 weeks. Here are the broad areas that 23andMe state they’ll provide insight into…

  • See how your DNA breaks out across 31 populations worldwide.
  • Learn how your genetics can influence your risk for certain diseases.
  • Learn how your genes play a role in your wellbeing and lifestyle choices.
  • Thinking of starting a family? Find out if you are a carrier for certain inherited conditions.
  • Learn how your DNA influences your facial features, tastes, smells and other traits.

Of these, I was really only interested in two things…

  1. If there was some kind of genetic marker in my DNA that makes me somehow predisposed for rheumatoid arthritis. I have RA and I was hoping to get some kind of insight into why I might have this.
  2. I wanted to know more about my ancestry and details about who the peoples were that make up who I am. My maternal side is from Mexico and my paternal side was some kind of western European stew. So I had a few preconceived ideas of how this would turn out.

Ancestry Breakdown and a Couple Surprises

ancestry-map-composition

Here is the broad breakdown of my ancestry in tabular format…

European 64.7%
East Asian & Native American 31.1%
Sub-Saharan African  1.4%
Middle Eastern & North African < 0.1%
Unassigned 2.8%

 

The data in the table is interesting, but the details give a lot more insight…

  • European – 64.7%
    • Northwestern European – 43.2%
      • British & Irish – 25.0%
      • French & German – 4.7%
      • Scandinavian -0.2%
      • Broadly Northwestern European – 13.3%
    • Southern European – 17.6%
      • Iberian – 8.9%
      • Italian – 1.1%
      • Sardinian – < 0.1%
      • Broadly Southern European – 7.4%
    • Ashkenazi Jewish – 0.5%
    • Broadly European – 3.4%
  • East Asian & Native American – 31.1%
    • Native American – 30.0%
    • Broadly East Asian & Native American – 1.1%
  • Sub-Saharan African – 1.4%
    • West African – 1.4%
  • Middle Eastern & North African – < 0.1%
    • North African – <0.1%
  • Unassigned – 2.8%

ancestry-timeline

The surprising part of this breakdown was how much colonialism impacted my maternal genetic composition. I’d figured that I’d be 50% hispanic/native-american and the rest would be a mix of European descent. The reality is that I’m only 30% Native American and the other 20% that probably makes up my maternal side most likely comes from the Southern European group via Spanish colonialism—surprising, but understood. The other surprising part of this breakdown was the 1.4% West African ancestry. I had no idea that I had any African roots. This is probably from Moorish invaders into Spain; the Spanish eventually colonized Mexico on the Maternal side. 23andMe thinks the North African roots became part of my ancestry sometime in the 1700s.

neanderthal-ancestry

The parts that were a little confusing to me were…

  • I have very little Neanderthal ancestry. I really have no idea if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
  • My maternal haplogroup is J1c3. I have no fucking clue what this means. According to 23andMe, 1 in 109 of their customers share this haplogroup assignment. So this seems common.
  • My paternal haplogroup is J-L26. Again, I have no idea what this means and according to 23andMe, 1 in 4300 of their customers share this haplogroup assignment. So it’s relatively uncommon; whatever that means.

Health and Wellness Results

The health and wellness results were far less helpful to me. I was looking for some insight into the autoimmune illness that I have, rheumatoid arthritis. It gave zero insight into this. It broke health and wellness down into three broad categories or sets of reports…

  • 7 Genetic Health Risk Reports
  • 42 Carrier Status Reports
  • 8 Wellness Reports

Of the three categories, I only found one report important, the Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease test, for which I had a result of variant not detected. All of the other stuff was kind of fluff; for example: deep sleep, bald spot, freckles, etc. I guess that I would have a different opinion if I had tested positive for one of the 42 carrier status reports tests, especially if thinking about having kids; but I tested negative for everything and Amy and I aren’t planning on having kids.

If you want to see my test results in context to the general report summary, you can look at the PDF here. Also, 23andMe allows you to download the full dataset of the DNA analysis. It’s one very large text file and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, if anything, but it’s cool they allow me to have this. They do state the full DNA dataset should be guarded and warn that the data is no longer behind their security once downloaded.

Final Thoughts

I found the results to be interesting, but not spectacular or life-changing. If one were thinking of procreating, it might be good to have this test taken to prevent any surprises down the line when actually conceiving. For me, the ancestry breakdown was informative and somewhat surprising, but actually just cemented the fact that my maternal side is hispanic/native-american and my paternal side is a European stew. The impact of colonialism on my maternal side was greater than I’d expected, but it doesn’t really change much regarding my familial identity.

Is the report worth $200? Yes, just to sate ancestral curiosities and it would probably prove useful if one is thinking of procreating. I would also say yes, if one has no idea of their familial background. If you’re looking for deep, earth-shattering, life-changing, results, you probably won’t really find them here.