Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Doing 23andme.com

So about a week ago, I decided that I'd get my genome mapped out. Why? Because the service that was once $1000, then $750, then $400, then $500, and then a limited time offer of $100 if you acted during the month of December before Christmas this year of 2010.

I couldn't resist, the thought has no joke long been hanging in my head about how cool it would be to glean some of this information. Now that I'm done with college, college wages, and the luck of this $100 pricing I had to bite. Now granted I have to surrender to a single year of $5/month payments for this "Personal Genome Service." As it's billed/marketed they send you updates about your genes in the way of new research, and other information gathered in the way of science and you. Alright so now this $100 service is really $160. But still - not bad in comparison to those other prices I laid out earlier. Either this company is desperate for profits or it's doing so well they can afford to do this...then again with genetics information this cheap you wonder what kind of markup takes place. But you can only wonder, it's a privately owned company and they clearly have beaten everyone else to the market with this kind of QoS.

I've been asked by several family members, friends, and other inquiring minds about why I would subject myself to such a task and said monies. There are several reasons why I am doing this, and I still am working on an order of importance. But I also question given the information I'm about to glean if a pecking order is necessary or I should be just ecstatic with said information. Never the less, here's my reasoning.


Genetic Predisposition to Diseases
What could be more responsible (from a health standpoint) than knowing what could possibly become a detriment to my health before it even happens? Let's say these results come back and I have a large percent chance of developing heart disease. I can say that I would certainly want to alter my lifestyle. I'd want to know what is currently known about preventing heart disease given that I know I have a high chance of getting it.

Now let's say results come back and I have a low chance for developing heart disease, sure it's unlikely but something is on my radar now. Surely this is information worth knowing is it not?

I've also been faced with the philosophical dilemmna of truth. If there is not just a good chance I'll develop a heart disease, but an insanely good chance that I will. Let's say 97% chance I'll develop it. Would I rather this diagnosis come by surprise? Wouldn't I want to be able to know and be able to potentially alter this? Several of my friends have actually said this is information they would rather not know. Not specifically heart disease, they don't want any of this disease information in general.

It's important to make the point to any people in a gray area of genetic knowledge that just because I am genetically predisposed to develop some disorder doesn't mean that I will. Even if I had a 97% chance of developing a heart disease there is still a 3% chance I won't. Not to mention, numbers aside...it still doesn't mean I'll develop it. If I'm proactive in taking preventative measures I can completely rule out the possibility of developing a heart disease.

So to be clear, it's not like by doing this test I'm about to reveal my future/fate to myself. That's the wrong way to view this I believe. To quote GI Joe - "...and knowing is half the battle."

NOTE: No history of heart disease in my family (mothers or fathers) and I am a very active runner with no signs of any cardio related conditions. Furthermore, it should be understood I'm generalizing this "heart disease" and is used solely as an example.

Just Where the Hell Did I Come From?
Ok. This seems huge to me. I've been told I have a large mexican background what could be crazier than proving that completely wrong? What if it turns out that my "true" background is European? African? Italian? By no means will it change who I am, or my culture but it certainly will allow a more accurate description of me. Because let me tell you, anything would be more convincing than mexican heritage given my appearance. When people ask my ethnic background I either make it up or say "American." I'm clearly the product of a lot of interracial hookups.

But this point segue's into my next one, that I consider crazy huge.

Let's End Racism in the Hour
I'm white. Look at me. I'm white. Wait. Am I? How sure am I of this fact? Just looking at me, yes I am of Caucasian descent. I have black hair, brown eyes, and features of no particular race (at least I don't think so). But just skin color...I mean...that can't prove what I am. Look at my grandparents (well you can't but just go with me here) they were a bit darker, they were a bit more hispanic looking. But myself? Nuh uh. I look incredibly white. But what did their parents look like? Their grandparents? Who were these people?

Go back far enough and I'm sure we could see the interracial hookups happening left and right in the early lineage of the family. So on some level I could be 13% african american. I don't share the skin color with my african american counterparts but genetically I may come from the same pool.

You want to end racism over night? The black president it would seem didn't do it according to some people. No you're right. The (white) majority country votes in a black president and racism is still a problem? In pockets probably, on the majority? Don't even try to fight common sense and logic here. But still. Fine. Sure. Let's say America and a lot of the world is crazy insane racists and bigots. Seems like the most valuable use of money and time these groups could make use of is for paying people to get their genome's mapped. Problem solved.

But Adam, even in the face of evidence and undeniable proof people will still hold their beliefs, their bigotry, and racism. - Fine, let them. Watch how quickly society will solve this problem and how quickly we can publicly label people idiots. How quickly we will discount their opinions and views. Doesn't sound bad to me. But am I being overly optimistic? Possibly. But isn't the point made?

Drug Reaction
A doctor prescribes me a drug, but only does so once consulting my genetic response to it. Will I have an adverse reaction to the drug? Will the drug have any effect on me at all? Is the drug the best one given the options in response my to genes? Will I have side effects? These questions have answers and more importantly can be readily answered within a visitation by merely consulting concrete information about myself.

I'm not a doctor, that's why I go to see one. Wouldn't I want to provide them the most possible information so as to better treat me as a patient?


So it's for these very high level reasons (that each have a lot to delve into more separately) that I want to get this done. For the price tag, game on. This is the kind of test that stands to alter science, culture, philosophy, civil rights, I mean...come ON. Am I crazy in saying any of this? According to several I actually am. I was actually told "that seems like a waste of money..." and "...it doesn't seem like anything meaningful could be gleaned from such a procedure." When asked on the reasoning behind this I was told that "I don't know, just seems like a scam." I didn't press this person any further as I was short on time but had I not been I would have presented them with the very points for why I want to get this done. Besides, I just spit into a tube and mail it back. Let me repeat that as it bears repeating - you spit into a tube they mail you, and then you mail it back. Results in 6-8 weeks according to the site.

Finally. I am in no way affiliated with this company or hold any stake in it what so ever. I am an individual merely offering his thoughts on the service going into it.

1 comment:

the kicker said...

I would get that done in a heartbeat if it was $100 TT dollars! haha

Still, its something I would love to get done some day.