Quantified Self

I received an e-mail today from a fellow who thought he might be my third to fifth cousin.

I signed up for the personal genomics testing at 23andme back when it was $300.  Now it’s down to $99 – of course at one point it was a thousand bucks so three hundred seemed quite a bargain. I signed up mainly because I was curious about the types of health risks I might be facing from my genes as I got older.  As it turned out, when I looked more into the 23andme community (after having the test done, duh) that in fact that genealogy is also a popular application for services like 23andme.

On the 23andme web site, once you send off your saliva sample to their lab in Iceland, you get a set of results related to your health – health risks, drug responses, etc., and then there is a set of results related to your ancestry.  There is even an iOS app, which I’ve installed, so you can see this info on the go, but I can’t say I really use the mobile app that often.

I won’t post any screenshots of my health risks in case anyone from United Healthcare is online, but here are some screenshots on the ancestry side.

Generally I was happy with my investment of $300, though there were some disappointments and some serendipitous surprises.

The biggest disappointment was on the health risk side. It turns out that I don’t have any life-threatening conditions and so I feel cheated out of the $300.

Just kidding.

Seriously, 23andme determines your risks by correlating the results from published studies on what the different genes impact. It turns out that most of the studies have been performed on Europeans, so their impacts for East Asians like me are unknown.  For the list of 100+ health risk categories (just eyeballing – didn’t really count), I have 13 elevated, 9 decreased (x0.67 for coronary heart disease – bring on those fried food), and 10 typical.  I don’t know if this was typical but I was hoping for more ratings.  The bright side is 23andme continues to update the site so perhaps I’ll learn more as time goes on.

What was a nice surprise was the section on ancestry, like seeing my paternal and maternal lines. Yes, that image does portray accurately where I’m supposed to be from – though maybe they could have figured that out too from my surname when I submitted my saliva samples.

My maternal line is a bit more imprecise…

Back to the health risk side, since the tests I’ve tried to change my habits to influence for the environmental factors for the elevated health risks. Money well spent to get an imprecise glimpse of a possible future
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