3 Editors Try Out Genetic Testing—and Share the Results!

There’s just something about knowing where you come from — who your people are, where your roots started, what connects you to your ancestors — that helps you solidify who you are now. Enter 23andMe, a genetic testing service that can be ordered online that tells you about your genetics and ancestry. You’re delivered scientific reports on your own DNA. How cool is that?! You can find out information about the DNA in your own cells from the privacy of your couch. 2018, amiright?

 

 

The process is simple: 23andMe sends you a kit in the mail, which arrives in 3-5 days. You then spit into a tube provided — NO NEEDLES, THANK GOD — and send it back! Easy peasy. In about 6-8 weeks, you can log on to your online account and discover what your DNA says about you. It might even say you’re related to Beyoncé — you never know.

 

 

We wanted to explore where we came from (who wouldn’t?!), so three of our editors dived into their own 23andMe kits, and anxiously awaited the results. Would they confirm what they had always known? Or would they be completely surprised?

 

 

Read on to find out about each of their experiences — what the testing kit was like, how long the process took, and what the results meant to them!

 

 

What are your expectations going into this? What are you hoping to learn?

 

My whole life I was told I was 100% Polish – both of my parents are from the south side of Chicago (a city that holds the largest Polish population second only to Poland itself). Every ancestor and family maiden name we know of is as Polish as could be. So I was so excited to see if my DNA would confirm or reject the notion that I was in fact 100% Polish.

 

Tell us about the process of submitting your DNA sample.

 

The process to submit the DNA could not have been easier, right down to the prepaid package to ship the sample back in. All I had to do was spit into a tube then shake it up, register my kit online, and send it back! The hardest part was that I couldn’t drink or eat 30 minutes before giving the saliva sample, and I kept forgetting and drinking water. Oops.

 

 

Tell us about your ancestry results! Did they differ from what you expected?

 

So as it turns out, I am in fact 95% Eastern European – predominantly Polish. Pretty remarkable actually! I also found out I was 2% Balkan mostly from Croatia so I had a good time joking with people that my country was in the World Cup. The rest was “broadly European” so I was a little bummed I couldn’t get more specific, but clearly this Polish ancestry is strong and has been dominant for many centuries!

 

 

What were you most surprised to learn from the results?

 

I was honestly surprised to see that I was in fact mostly Polish! I assumed I had to be more of a mix! I have to say, it was SO fun seeing how it predicted the likelihood of all my traits and seeing which ones were spot on or not. For the most part it was spot on! Things like whether I can taste certain bitter flavors, have an aversion to cilantro, consume more caffeine than average, etc. are influenced by my DNA, which I never realized!

They were mostly all spot on with what I know about myself except it indicated that I was likely to have detached earlobes – I do not.

I had fun showing my family that I have the genetic muscle composition common in elite power athletes because we like to disagree (jokingly) about my natural athleticism. Boy did my DNA prove them wrong! Now they are all excited to buy the kits and try it for themselves.

 

 

 

What are your expectations going into this? What are you hoping to learn?

 

I’m fascinated by ancestry and genealogy, so I am really excited to be able to experience this. I’m expecting my ancestry results to be pretty straightforward, to be honest. I don’t know a lot about my ancestors beyond my grandparents (and don’t even know that much about my grandparents, who are all deceased), but I’m pretty positive that I come from a long line of Indian people. My parents are both immigrants, who moved here from India before I was born, but as far as I understand, all of their direct relatives are Indian, as well.

What I’d love to see is some variation of ancestry within my own — something that tells a story of a connection to other races or ethnicities — but knowing what I do of my family, I think that’s a definite reach. I’m also really interested (and a bit nervous!) to see what sorts of genetic health risks I might have. The thought of having a genetic variant for some genetic health risks is worrisome, but I’m of the mindset that making positive change now can be really helpful as time goes on.*

 

Tell us about the process of submitting your DNA sample.

 

Submitting my DNA sample was super easy. The instructions were simple and clear and the actual process was really smooth (although it did take me a bit to conjure up enough saliva to fill the tube — guess I’m not drinking as much water as I should be!).

Sealing and shipping the package could not have been simpler, and I was notified in a few days that my sample was received at the lab. Actually waiting for the results was the hardest part!

 

 

Tell us about your ancestry results! Did they differ from what you expected?

 

They were exactly as expected. Though I was not-so-secretly hoping to uncover some kind of major ancestral secret like they do on TV, it wasn’t the case for me. 23andMe accounts for some margin of error, but my results did come back as 99.8% South Asian, which is what I was assuming to be true.

 

 

What were you most surprised to learn from the results?

 

Though my ancestry results weren’t too surprising, the results from the health part of the report were really interesting. I was relieved to find out that I did not have a variant identified for the major genetic diseases included in the test.

I was very surprised to learn that my genetic muscle composition is common in elite power athletes, especially because I am basically a beanpole who has a very hard time keeping on any sort of weight or muscle. I guess I missed out on my Olympic-sprinter calling, but like 23andMe says, lifestyle and training drive athletic performance, so it’s no shock that I’m sitting here on a couch with a burrito instead of out training for a tri. Totally makes sense.

Not all the results were as spot-on though: my report suggested I was at higher odds of disliking cilantro, which is amusing. I’m obsessed with cilantro and put it on almost everything. And, if you know Indian people, you know this to be among the norm in the South Asian community. I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating cilantro since I was a baby.

What was really interesting was learning about my internal clock and biological sleep rhythms. As someone who has slept terribly their whole life, I’m fascinated by sleep. Apparently, there are genetic components to sleep, sleep quality, and internal wake-up times, as well as whether you are a morning or night person. According to the research, my internal wake-up time is around 8:25 am — someone needs to tell my kids that, because they wake me up before 6am on the reg. No wonder I’m a zombie until noon.

There’s a slew of other cool traits and carrier statuses in the report, and I enjoyed browsing through the report and learning about each one. There’s a ton of information included and it takes a while to comb through — I’m really glad to have done this!

 

 

What are your expectations going into this? What are you hoping to learn?

 

I jumped at the chance to try 23andMe! I’m an avid researcher and Googler — which can be good and bad, let me tell you. When I am interested in a topic, I want to find out everything. So a DNA test is RIGHT up my alley. I really wanted to learn what my DNA could possibly tell me about where I’m from, my genetic health tendencies, and how my reports can encourage me to pursue positive health goals. Like I require a ton of sleep (I’m early to bed and late to rise), but does my DNA reflect that? Or is it just personal preference? What kind of muscle composition do I have?

When it comes to ancestry, both my parents come from mixed European families, so I knew I’d be a bit of a mutt. They always say mutts are the best puppies, right? Joking aside, I was excited to see the exact breakdown of European countries, especially because I studied abroad in college and fell in love with many of those countries.

 

 

Tell us about the process of submitting your DNA sample.

 

We received the box with our test kit quickly and it was very easy to administer and send back. Don’t tell my husband — but I collected my saliva while driving to work one day. I promise it wasn’t distracted driving, it just took a few stoplights to collect all the saliva necessary to fill up the tube! I made the mistake of not watching a video first (this one was great) and was confused about how to close the lid of the test tube. I recommend watching a quick video first to avoid a messy spit situation. After I figured out the test tube (user error, of course), I dropped my sample in the mail and kept checking my personal 23andMe account for my results.

 

 

Tell us about your ancestry results! Did they differ from what you expected?

 

Like I guessed, I am 100% European. Nothing too surprising there, but the breakdown was really intriguing. I absolutely hated science in high school (as my parents will tell you), but I found it really cool how 23andMe gets to your results. Your DNA is compared to DNA sequences from 31 reference populations. If your DNA matches one of the reference DNA populations, it’s marked as part of your ancestry. Your results are delivered in a pie chart to show the breakdown of countries and then details about that country.

My biggest pie pieces were British and Irish, French and German, and Italian. 23andMe was able to predict that I had ancestors living in Italy, Ireland, and Slovakia in the past 200 years. My family tree confirms that. My DNA also revealed I had low percentages of Balkan, Iberian, and Scandinavian populations. Those populations were news to me — and I’m interested in learning more about those ancestors. My taste in bad movies is coming out (can they DNA test that too?), but I’d love to travel back in time to talk to all these relatives.

 

What were you most surprised to learn from the results?

 

The 23andMe wellness results were really interesting to me. Before I took the test, I wondered what it would tell me about my sleep. And it was SPOT ON. My results told me that I’m likely to move less than average during sleep. Correct — I sleep like a rock. It also told me my ideal wake up time is 8:14 am. What I would do to sleep that late every morning! Honestly, getting up early is the worst.thing.ever. in my opinion.

Overall, my results were pretty much what I expected. What surprised me the most was how the results were so on point. It’s amazing how a sample of saliva can contain so much information about who you are, where you come from, and how you got where you are now.

 

Go to 23andme.com/TheEveryGirl to test your DNA with your very own 23andMe kit.

 

 

*The 23andMe PGS test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks and reporting carrier status. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment. Our carrier status reports can be used to determine carrier status, but cannot determine if you have two copies of any genetic variant. These carrier reports are not intended to tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future, the health of your fetus, or your newborn child’s risk of developing a particular disease later in life. For certain conditions, we provide a single report that includes information on both carrier status and genetic health risk.

 

This post was in partnership with 23andMe, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.

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