Tuesday, September 15, 2015

23andMe DNA Test Results: Health Edition.

I recently submitted a saliva sample to the company 23andMe for genomic testing. They perform DNA sequencing, which provides their customers with a full range of data about their genes. The reason for this testing is two fold. The results provide a complete profile of your ancestral background, as well as a better understanding of potential genetic-based health risks.

Tonight, I'd like to discuss the health side of the results I finally received. I will save the ancestral aspect for another article. To my siblings -- please take specific note of what I'm about to discuss. You are also likely to have the same genetic predispositions to the following diseases and conditions.

Here is what I discovered.
  • Perhaps the biggest risk my genes predispose me to are all forms of cardiovascular (heart) disease. Specifically among them, coronary artery disease. On top of that, I am also prone to Hypertension. While I'm certainly not guaranteed to develop heart disease, my genes make it more likely if I don't take care of myself. Good thing I've already been taking preventative measures for years: consuming Omega-3 fatty acids, eat a low fat/cholesterol diet, don't smoke, etc. As I am now, my cardiovascular system is healthy; I want it to stay that way. My bad cholesterol numbers are well below average and my blood pressure is definitely good.
  • I am definitely at risk for late-onset Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia, no doubt about it. I run the chance of forgetting people and places the older the get. Again, this isn't guaranteed, but I am a potential target. Thankfully, many of the preventive measures I take against heart disease also apply to Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia, along with drinking tea regularly and keeping my mind sharp with mental exercises.
  • I bear the right genetic makeup for Crohn's disease. Though, none of the symptoms are present in my life, so I believe I'm okay. I am more than likely a carrier of the disease, though.
  • Shockingly, I am a carrier of the scarce genetic mutation for a very rare disease -- type 2 neonatal Bartter syndrome. This is a kidney disorder that leaves many infants deathly dehydrated upon birth. Many babies with this disorder simply do not survive.
  • In terms of cancer risks, I am predisposed to Prostate, Lung, Esophageal, Thyroid and Breast cancer. In just a few years, I'll need to begin receiving regular prostate exams because I have a high risk for getting it. Thankfully, I have never been a smoker, so Lung cancer shouldn't ever bother me. Though, it comes as no surprise that my mother and maternal grandfather both succumbed to Lung cancer.
  • I have an elevated risk of developing Meningiomas on my brain and spinal cord. They are small tumors, usually benign, that form on the meninges. Typically, they are not life-threatening and don't always require surgery for removal.
  • I am genetically prone to Alcoholism and Nicotine dependence. Not smoking is a win -- I can't get addicted to a chemical I've never consumed. Controlling my alcohol intake is key, though. I can never go overboard with it. Many of my family members have dealt with the disease.
  • Other diseases my genetics bear a propensity for are ALS, Lupus, Parkinson's and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • I have many of the genes present in those whom suffer from Bipolar disorder and Depression. I was previously diagnosed with Depression in 2009, so this came as no surprise. It is under control, though.
  • Another unsurprising discovery -- I have a ton of genes which cause Asthma. One way or another, I was going to have Asthma the moment I was conceived.
  • My DNA contains specific genes found in those with Autism and ADHD. Again, I do not suffer from either of these conditions, but I am a carrier.
  • I was surprised to learn that I have multiple genetic mutations which cause a Cleft lip. I did not have a Cleft lip as a child, nor did I know of any family members that had it. I guess we all got lucky.
  • I have the proper mutations for Graves' disease, which is a condition that affects the thyroid and commonly causes hyperthyroidism. I actually had my thyroid checked last year, with thankfully no bad news to report.
  • Hilariously, it would be near impossible for me to ever develop an addiction to Cannabis. Considering the various cancers I am prone to, I guess this is a good thing. Though, I have Asthma, so I guess I'd have to consider edibles?
This may all come as a shock, but I'm glad I learned this vital information. This knowledge is key to me preventing these conditions later on in life. I can take steps now to improve my chances of living well. For my close relatives and especially my siblings -- I can't suggest how important it is for you to consider doing the same.

I also believe everyone reading this should consider having their own genome tested. If you're interested, please contact me directly. I can provide you with a referral to 23andMe.

Considering the data I learned, it's a good thing I don't want to have children!

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