23andMe & Me

Back in September, there was an article in The Root about free DNA Testing for Blacks from 23andMe. So, I signed up, submitted a sample and recently received the results.

There are several reports: Disease Risks (whether I have an elevated, decreased or average risk of 115 diseases), Carrier Status (whether or not I can pass the markers for 28 different diseases to an offspring), Drug Response (whether or not 20 drugs will have the desired effect on me), Traits (52) and a little information about my Haplogroups and ancestral lines.

It’s important to know that for the Disease, Carrier and Drug Response reports, “average” is determined from studies done on people of European ancestry.

It’s pretty clear that the results are for informational purposes only and are not a diagnosis of any kind. Still, it was unsettling to see all of the elevated risks. An especially weird report is “Sex Hormone Regulation” – since the tests are for testosterone levels based on studies of male subjects.

Also, 23andMe doesn’t test for every marker that indicates a disease. There may be 5 markers associated with a disease; if they only test for 2 how clear of a picture are you actually being given? As more data is collected and more studies are done, the reports get updated.

The Haplogroup and Ancestry Painting reports are interesting. Here’s the ancestry of my chromosomes:

I also like being able to see my genetic similarity to groups of people from around the world:

23andMe also has a relative finder feature.  My concept of “relative” stops at 3rd cousin. 23andMe extends it out to 6th cousin. I’ve been declining to establish connections with the potential 4th and 5th cousins who’ve contacted me so far. I gather, from bopping around the forums, some people get upset when they are rejected. Right now, I don’t want to talk to anyone who wouldn’t show up at a family reunion.

Google Venture is one of the backers of 23andMe. Any second now, I should start getting Google Ads that target my potential risk. Just kidding. 🙂

If your DNA doesn’t include a Y-Chromosome, you can only get Haplogroup info about your Maternal Line. You’d have to get a relative with an Y-Chromosome to also send in a sample.
No matter the results of your analysis, 23andMe allows you to change your sex.

Published by Tawanna

Sometimes writer, most times editor. Lover of mysteries and 70s/80s horror movies. Author of The Next Girl (short story collection) and The Closet Case (mystery).

%d bloggers like this: