My 23andMe Health Report

(Warning; this is a longer post)

I guess this week I could say I was brave. You’ll know what I mean if you already read my blog post from last year; “I Did something To my 23andMe Account That I May Regret“.

In that blog, I explained that 23andMe had offered me a steal of a deal on upgrading my 23andMe Ancestry account to include the health report. They’d asked before, but I’d never done it because my mom had died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so I didn’t want to know. But I can’t resist a deal, so I went for it. (I told you my brother’s call me the Coupon Queen right? ) I received my report, and the results email has sat in my inbox ever since.

Ok, call me chicken. Many of you commented on that blog and told me that the results aren’t as definitive as I might think and that even if the report did say that I had the predisposition to Alzheimer’s that knowing would give me power and I would have the ability to discuss the information with my Dr.

So why this week? Well, it all started because I was looking through some emails and I saw that 23andMe could tell me what ice cream I liked. So I was curious what it would say. I love chocolate hands down, but I wondered if my DNA results would tell me that.

According to the report, it states that “Scientists at 23andMe identified 739 genetic markers that are associated with preferring vanilla ice cream versus chocolate ice cream. In addition to genetics, other factors like age, sex, and ancestry can also influence your chances.”

After reading that part of the report, I decided that perhaps I should be brave and see what the reports told me.

The first section told me about my sleep patterns. There is a total of 3 reports.

Concerning deep sleep, it said that deep sleep was less likely. Sleep movement? Likely more than average movement. Wake up time? About 7:42 a.m. Wow, that’s pretty accurate. It’s sometimes a lot earlier but in around that range.

The next section was food and weight. In this section, there are a total of 6 reports. That was interesting. Ellen, your genes predispose you to weigh about average. Ouch, I knew that but there it was. It did go on to say that I should avoid fast foods, limit red meat, exercise 2-3 times a week, sleep 7-8 hours, and eat 2-4 serving of veggies. Ok, I might read that in any diet book and isn’t that what all of us should do?

This section also said that I might not like cilantro, which isn’t true. I do like it. But when it came to sweet vs. salty, they got it right; I do like salty.

The next section was the Wellness section. Something that I’ve been working on lately. That and the losing weight. There are three reports; one regarding alcohol flush, I’m not likely to have that (which I don’t). Funny enough my grandmother had this, and that’s why she never drank because even her ears would get hot. Then there is caffeine consumption. It said that I probably would consume less. 23andMe research participants with your genetic result who consume caffeine regularly tend to drink the equivalent of about an eighth of a cup of coffee (17 mg of caffeine) less than average per day.

Finally, under wellness, it got to muscle composition, and it said I had composition common in elite power athletes. If you’ve met me, then you know that I haven’t done right by that if it’s true. Perhaps I need to take my exercise routine a bit more serious.

Each of the reports in all the areas gets into more detail about that subject. So for instance, in this case, it talks about; what is a muscle, muscles, and genetics and the fact that genetics isn’t everything.

Mostly straight but a bit of my Nanny’s wave in the back

The next section is traits, and that’s where I’d started when I got the email about the ice cream. In total, there are 30 reports. That’s a lot, and I won’t get into them all, but some of the ones I thought were interesting were; eye color, likely brown or hazel, hair texture, likely straight or wavy.

Misophonia (I know I didn’t even know what that was) but apparently, I have average odds of hating the sound of others chewing.

That’s was interesting to me because I’d like to test my brother, or I would have loved to test my maternal grandfather because both of them complain/complained about the sounds that people make while eating and they don’t have to be that loud.

Motion sickness. Less likely to have motion sickness. That’s an interesting one because now I might not get those patches when I go on the ferry to Vancouver Island for my niece’s wedding in August.

The other reports are; ability to match musical pitch, asparagus odor detection, bunions, cheek dimples, cleft chin, dandruff, earlobe type, earwax type, fear of heights, fear of public speaking, finger length ratio, flat feet, freckles, hair photobleaching, light or dark hair, mosquito bite frequency, newborn hair, photic sneeze reflex, red hair, skin pigmentation, stretch marks, toe length ratio, unibrow, widows peak. .

That’s a bunch of information, and each subject goes quite in-depth into that subject. It does make for some interesting reading.

But so far, I hadn’t found my real health report. So, where were they? Well, I discovered that in my attempt to avoid whether I had the Alzheimer’s gene I’d opted out of getting the more nitty-gritty reports, so I had to go in and acknowledge that I wanted each of them.

Once I did that and answered a few questions about my ethnic origins, then I saw a few new sections; health predispositions and carrier status tutorials. Up to now, it’s been some pretty light-hearted stuff. Keep in mind that this is because I’d initially opted out of seeing this so if you didn’t do that then I would imagine this would be the first two sections you’d see.

So, I’m still chicken, so I chose to look at the carrier status tutorial. First, it explains what being a carrier means, and finally, it said that I was not a carrier for any of the things they tested for. After that, when I went back to my health homepage, there were 44 new reports in the carrier status. Again I’m not getting into it all, but each report tells you a bit more about the subject and offers to connect you to a genetic counselor, gives you the ability to print the report and there is a button where you can get more information about joining a support group.

Here we are; the final tutorial, and the results for health predispositions. Take a drink of coffee and click the button (perhaps I’ll drink that 1/8 of a cup more of coffee) or maybe I should have chosen wine (after all I wouldn’t have a flush to give it away). All kidding aside I’m nervous.

I went through the tutorial and got the following final screen. Our tests do not diagnose any health conditions. (But don’t stop reading here).

Once I got through the tutorial, I now had 13 new reports under health predispositions and a notation that I still had to do the BRCA1/BRCA2 tutorial and a new tutorial MUTYH-Associated Polyposis tutorial. In case you don’t know (because I didn’t) both these tutorials are about increased cancer risks. I think I’ll leave that for another day.

Now when I look at my health predispositions, I feel a little surprised because I see; Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease – slightly increased risk. So now I feel a bit disappointed.

Ellen, you have one copy of the ε4 variant we tested.

People with this variant have a slightly increased risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Lifestyle, environment, and other factors can also affect your risk.

So now there is so much to read. There is the overview, scientific detail, and frequently asked questions. One section that I found reassuring is this.

In the frequently asked questions, it goes on to say that a”slightly increased risk” means that, based on your genetic result for this test, your chances of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease are slightly higher than average. Studies estimate that, on average, a woman of European descent (which I am) with your genetic result has a 5-7% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by age 75, compared to a 3% chance for the general population. By age 85, that risk is 27-30% for people with your genetic result, compared to 11-14% for the general population.

The next thing I wondered is how many of these APOE’s are there? Well, there are two and so if you have both, then the results are different. For women, your chances of having the disease at 65 are 2%, at age 75 it’s 28%, and at age 85 it’s 60%. I found that interesting because it makes me wonder if my mom had one or both?

For men having both APOE’s means that at 65 years of age, the chance of having the disease is 4%, at age 75 it’s 28%, and at age 85 it’s 51%. Keep in mind that this is for people of European descent.

Reading the report further it goes on to say. Even though nothing has been proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, some studies suggest that eating a healthy diet and staying physically and mentally active is linked to a reduced risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Ok, so maybe I do need to be more involved in my diet and exercise plan.

Other factors can influence your chances of developing the disease. Age (if you are over 65 I’m not just yet), Sex (Female more than Male), Family History (the fact that my mom had it), heart health ( obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older age). Darn, this getting healthy seems to be unavoidable. Diet, Intellectual activity (the fact that I do genealogy and genetic genealogy might be godsent because it certainly keeps my brain active.) Exercise, ethnicity ( African Americans and Hispanics develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease at higher rates than people of European and Asian descent) and other genes.

So, after all this, what did I learn? I learned that just like I had thought I have a chance of getting Alzheimer’s, but now I don’t think it’s as horrible as I imagined. Because at the same time, I only have one of the genes. But even if you have both genes that wouldn’t mean that it’s a given it just means that your odds are higher.

I also learned that maybe I need to be a bit more serious about my diet and exercise program and finally that I need to keep doing genealogy and genetic genealogy, so I keep my brain working and active. All those things are positive.

I still think that the cousin matching is the best part about doing a 23andMe test, but now I’m not quite so afraid of my potential health issues.

If you like to take a 23andMe DNA test and find out more about your health you can learn more at their site HERE.

Note; Graphics are snips from my report on 23andMe. The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage on the sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. This is a supplement to my income so I can continue to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society.

4 Comments

  • Bonnie B says:

    You go girl, brave! Great write up on a topic many are pondering (me included!)

  • I found out that my dad is not my birth father when I did a DNA test with my siblings last year. I haven’t purchased the new health report they’ve offered but i may in the near future. I don’t have any Alzheimer’s on my maternal line that I know of. But now I don’t know about my paternal side. I’ve read a few articles on the disease and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have a handful of nuts every day. I think Walnut in particular (the nut shaped like a brain) are good for warding off Alzheimer’s, at least putting it off longer. But I include Brazil nuts (helps with Thyroid issues). Nuts can have be beneficial for heart and diabetes too. I keep Almonds, Pecans, and Hazelnuts as well in my cupboard and freezer.

  • Colleen Murray says:

    Thanks for sharing, Ellen. My grandmother had alzheimer’s and I’ve been afraid to do that type of DNA test for a similar reason as you. Still don’t think I’m ready for it, but it helps to know what sort of results they provide.

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