My ancestry is something I’ve always known very little about. Unfortunately, no one in my family (on either side) bothered to keep track of anything like that. All I ever heard was that I was “Part Cherokee, German, and Irish”. So I decided to do the genetic test from 23andMe to finally get some answers.
There are two different tests you can sign up for from 23andMe. One only tells you your ancestry information and costs $99. The other one is $199 and will also tell you your carrier status for certain genetic diseases and what your chances of developing certain illnesses are. I used to work in the medical field so I decided to get the ancestry and medical information because I’ve always wanted to learn more about my health risks.
How 23andMe Works
As soon as you order your kit the company sends you a DNA gathering kit. I promise it’s not as complicated as it sounds. You basically spit in a test tube…a lot. The tube has a line on it and you have to fill it up to the line. Then you send it back to the company and wait for your results.
It takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks for 23andMe to process your DNA results. I actually ordered a kit for a friend in December 2016 for Christmas (but I gave it to him before Christmas so he could get his results sooner) and it only took a few weeks. Then I ordered a kit for myself a few months later and it took almost 8 weeks for me to get my results. I’m not sure why there was such a difference but I suspect if they get more kits after Christmas and it takes them longer to go through them all.
What I Learned
My parents always told me that my great-grandmother was Cherokee. Well, one of my ancestors was Native American but it wasn’t her. According to the 23andMe timeline, my Native American ancestor was probably born between 1710 and 1800. That’s too far back to be my great-grandmother. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if this ancestor was Cherokee or not (23andMe can only tell you if you have Native American ancestry. It can’t tell you what tribe.)
I was also surprised to learn that I have some African ancestors too.
Health Information and Traits
23andMe told me some stuff about myself that I already knew. It said I likely have light colored eyes (my eyes are green), I’m probably fair skinned, I probably don’t have a cleft chin (I don’t), and so on. I also learned some things that I didn’t know. For instance, there are two types of muscle fibers people can have (“fast twitch” and “slow twitch). “Fast twitch” muscles are good for doing anything that requires a large burst of energy for a short period of time. “Slow twitch” is better for doing long distance running or similar activities. It turns out I have “slow twitch” muscles.
I’m happy to say I’m not a carrier for any of the 42 genetic diseases they tested for.
Unfortunately, I do have a slightly increased risk of developing Late-Onset Alzheimer’s. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will definitely get it. And anyone that decides to get a DNA test needs to keep that in mind. These tests are not a way to diagnose anything and if you are concerned about a particular result you should discuss it with your doctor.
Another thing I really like about 23andMe is that they are always working to learn more about genetics and sometimes you’ll get an e-mail saying you have a new report that you can log in and view. So who knows what I’ll learn about myself as time goes on?
Connecting With Relatives
It’s optional but if you want you can choose to see other people that you are related to (which means they can also see you). I wasn’t really that interested in finding relatives but I decided to opt-in anyway. As of right now, I have 1,191 relatives. Most of them are people I’m barely (and I mean barely) related to and have never heard of. But the closest relative I have on there is a second cousin. So far most of the relatives I’ve looked at don’t have very much information on their profiles.
Connecting With Other DNA and Ancestry Sites
23andMe will let you download your raw data and there are some sites that will let you upload your information for free or a fee. As of right now, MyHeritage.com is letting people upload their 23andMe DNA results for free.
Overall I really like the service and I’m glad I signed up for it. If you’re interested visit 23andMe.com and sign up.