If You Were At Risk of Developing Life Threatening Cancer, Would You Want to Know?by Carly Jacobs
Last Christmas Mr Smaggle bought each of us a rather odd little present. He got us a 23andMe kit which tests your DNA and gives you information on your health and genetics. It used to cost thousands of dollars to have your DNA tested but this company got a massive grant to subsidise $99 kits for 1 million people to better understand genetics and DNA across a large test group. I had several people who were interested in hearing about our testing experience so here’s a bit of info about the process.
What I learned from the testing…
- It’s probably best to complete the test on your own. We sat down to do the test together and literally spat in a cup, side by side, for like 20 minutes. It was pretty gross. I actually like gross stuff, but even I found it a touch too much to watch my beloved hock about 20 loogies in a row.
- Do your research before you freak out over your results. Mr Smaggle came back with a 47% chance of heart disease and I promptly started planning my future as a young widow. Turns out the whole population has a 46.8% chance of heart disease so he was only in the mild extra risk category.
- Be prepared to hear some things you might not want to hear. My results came back with an increased risk factor for psoriasis. It could be much worse, I could be heading towards colon cancer or MS but that doesn’t change the fact that I might be going to have some lovely skin issues to look forward to in the future. Yay me.
- Be prepared to have some suspicions confirmed. One of my main results is that I’m a general over indulge-er and if I don’t concentrate I over consume things like food and alcohol. It’s only if I’m already consuming though. If I’m not drinking alcohol for a month or if I’m consciously watching my weight, I’m quite disciplined. I always suspected that I had a harder time saying no to that second (or third) glass of wine and there’s something very satisfying about having that confirmed. It’s made me much more aware of my tendencies to over eat and over drink. Mr Smaggle came back as 73% likely to have coeliac disease. Which he has. It’s pretty cool.
- It can be a little creepy. For example my report says that I have curlier than average hair and a 79% chance of having blue eyes. Both are true and it’s a bit unnerving that they figured that out from a tiny vial of my saliva. Also it’s made me paranoid about how easy it would be to identify me if I ever committed a crime. Note to self: no murdering people.
- It’s possible you might find out you aren’t related to someone you thought you were related to. They do an ethnicity test so you know what region you originated from and if you’re switched on you could probably figure out that your mum might have had an affair with the milkman. I’m obviously not saying that’s what happened but my results confirmed that my parents are indeed my parents so naturally the opposite can also happen, so just be wary.
Should you do the testing?
I’d say from my experience, yes. Absolutely. However my biggest threat is a possible rash and a predisposition to not stop myself eating a second hamburger so I got off really lightly. So did Mr Smaggle. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I tested high for breast cancer or alzhiemer’s. Although none of the results are conclusive, they’re just things to keep on your radar. I think I can safely say though that if I did have the possibility of cancer in my future (which, let’s face it, we all have a possibility of cancer in our future) then I’d rather it be on my radar. Even if finding out that you have an increased risk of breast cancer makes you get more regular check ups then it can only be a good thing.