We live in exciting times. For $199, you can get genetic testing done by just spitting into a cup and mailing it to the lab. I know $199 is still out of range for a large number of people, but it will only get more affordable from here. Most Americans can afford $199, though whether or not that is a good use of money is a different matter. It is the cost of two months of smartphone use. It costs about the same as two months of cable television. It’s two months of your internet bill. Vanity genetic testing is finally affordable to middle-class America.
Disclaimer: In this article, I discuss my opinions and/or observations on health topics. I am not a doctor. The information here is only observations and opinions, not medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes that might affect your health.
When I say “vanity genetic testing,” I do mean “vanity.” There’s no reason why anyone would need to have this done. It’s just kind of fun and may be useful to people interested in genealogy.
Nothing in my results was particularly surprising. These are some of the results that I found interesting:
Maybe useful information
My results say that I’m likely lactose intolerant. It was a bit surprising, since I have loved drinking milk all my life, and I love dairy products. I should probably make an experiment of removing dairy from my diet for a month and see if I experience any noticeable results.
I’m mostly slow-twitch muscle. That means my body was not made for sprinting. That means I’m more suited for endurance and lifting heavy objects than running like a gazelle.
Not useful, but interesting information
I’m not likely to have hair loss before 40, and if I do have hair loss, I’m not likely to have a bald spot. That sounds accurate because I don’t have a bald spot and I have a full head of hair, though it is thinning as I get older. Only a couple more years to 40 though, and after that, all bets are off.
Europeans tend to have wet earwax, while Asians tend to have dry earwax. I’m half European ancestry and half Asian descent, and I have wet earwax (TMI? sorry).
I likely have little or no upper back hair. This is reassuring.
I am unlikely to flush after drinking alcohol. Most of my Asian friends turn all red whenever they drink even a little bit of alcohol.
I have more Neanderthal variants than 28% of 23andMe customers. This doesn’t tell me much because there is a selection bias of the types of people who are 23andMe customers. I am thankful though that I didn’t inherit back-hair from my Neanderthal heritage.
Some things that I didn’t know were genetic
I am not likely to sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright sunlight.
I am likely to taste certain bitter compounds.
I am liable to prefer salty or savory snacks, that is, I don’t have a genetic sweet tooth. This is good because I try my best to avoid sugar.
(more TMI coming up…) I am likely to be able to smell the asparagus metabolite in my pee. So true.
The average 23andMe customer who drinks caffeinated beverages consumes about 265 mg of caffeine per day. This is equivalent to more than two cups of coffee. 23andMe customers who are genetically similar to me tend to consume 224 mg of caffeine per day on average, which is still more than two cups of coffee. This seems to be utterly useless information, and may not even be related to genetics at all.
I am likely to have a longer ring finger than index finger. However, my ring finger seems to be the same length as my index finger.
I am likely to have a longer big toe than the second toe. This prediction is just wrong. My second toe is longer than my big toe.
My overall 23andMe experience
If you have the extra disposable income, this is an entertaining and rewarding way to spend it. While I didn’t find out anything surprising about myself, other people might. It is particularly the case for individuals with unknown or uncertain backgrounds. Besides the insights I’ve written here, the genetic test will also provide information about what regions of the world your ancestors originated from, and also what types of rare genetic diseases you may be a carrier of (thankfully I tested negative for all of them).
Another feature of the 23andMe service is that they let you contact and be contacted by any genetic relatives they might find through the testing. It includes close relatives like aunts, uncles, and cousins, or distant relatives like 5th cousins that may have split from your side of the family tree generations ago. It is especially useful to people who are into genealogy.
There is still a lot left to be done in the genetics field. Perhaps someday genetic test labs would even be able to tell what you look like based on your DNA alone. That would be both fun and scary at the same time.