If you haven’t heard of 23andMe before, you’re in for a Jetsons-esque treat. The service is one of the first (and most popular) consumer-friendly kits to decode your DNA, detailing your personal health traits (ex: eye color, height, weight, etc), disease risks, and ancestry information. The great news? It’s currently on sale — down from $299 to $99! Um, hello Christmas gifts for the family!?
I was an early adopter of the service a few years ago and can totally say it’s changed how I think about my health. For instance, when I found out I have a small risk for an eye disease called macular degeneration, I started seeing the eye doctor (and eating more carrots) much more frequently.
Oh, and it even lets you match your genes to other people who have used the service. I matched mine to my husband’s and found out we have a 25% chance of having a blonde haired, blue-eyed child. Kind of a shocker, given that we both have dark features.
What’s great about 23andMe is that it gives you different looks at your ancestry. As opposed to one giant overview, you can see your maternal vs. paternal ancestral lines. Now you know who to blame for certain character flaws ;) Even better, it tells you if you share any common threads with celebrities. I found out that I am somehow related to Marie Antoinette. I think that means I should get a free tour of Versailles next time I go to France.
Besides the fun historical stuff, 23andMe can help greatly with health. With your gene map in hand, 23andMe can predict your chances of getting certain health conditions. Not only with that, it can also predict things like drug responses and how likely your children or relatives may be at risk for the same conditions.
The process is also extremely simple. No crazy surgeries like in the movies. Once you receive your kit in the mail, all you need to do is send in a few milliliters of saliva (don’t worry, they provide a spill proof container). Then just wait and you’ll receive your results online within a few weeks! It’s amazing that technology can map your DNA, and for only $100. With your saliva sample, they use a high tech DNA chip (we won’t go into details cause let’s be real, we’re not scientists) to match your DNA to the approximately one million gene “pieces” they have in their library. These pieces correspond to certain character traits and conditions. (Image, Engadget)
Getting a genetic report can open a whole new world of possibilities and information. However, like a lot of things, it may also show you things you don’t want to know. 23andMe states that in its FAQ that “everyone has different tolerances and preferences for learning information.” So when you’re ready for all the information that 23andMe can give to you, happy mapping!