Archive for the ‘23andMe’ Category


Act fast and get $50 off!

Act fast and get $50 off!

Thanks to all of you for your comments — but there is only one winner — Judy A. from North Carolina has won a DNA Testing service from 23andMe! I’ve put her in touch with the folks at 23andMe and they’ll take it from here.


But don’t despair if you haven’t won! If you click quickly, you could get $50 off your own kit from 23andMe.com, by using this coupon code at checkout: HBXP84.  The code is only good for the first ten people, and it’s only good for two days from today — so go on, click, buy, take the plunge, and find out all kinds of cool stuff about yourself. 

It was fascinating to read all of your responses to my questions, and very interesting to see how few of you felt that you might find  out “too much” information about yourself, or that if you found out something scary – it would be a bad thing.  Then again, I guess that if you’re interested in the service, then you must already be ready to know as much about yourself as possible. 

My 23andMe gig has come to a close with this post, but I have had a great time, and I will continue to visit the site, participate in the community, and learn as much about my genetic self as possible.  23andMe has a great mission: to make DNA testing services available to more people through excellent pricing, to effect change in health care, to empower people with information about themselves, and to serve as a research bank to scientists around the globe.  Sounds good to me.

And to Judy: Congratulations!  Find me on 23andWe  (the community part of the site), and let me know how you are doing.  I’d love to know how it works out for you!

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Here's the Kit. Cool graphics, huh?

Here's the Kit. Cool graphics, huh?

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing a bit (!) about 23andMe for the past few months. I’ve contemplated the difference between my jeans and my genes, I’ve wondered why my family (who all have kits) won’t spit, I’ve worried about how much to share, how much info is too much. But mostly, I’ve spent the last several months amazed at both the plethora of information you get from having a DNA Test at 23andMe, and the incredible generosity of the 23andWe community where someone always seems ready to answer my questions immediately. (And every time – as this time – I have full disclosure, I am a paid freelance employee of 23andMe. And if you think that means I can’t be unbiased about the service – you’re just WRONG.!)


Now, the fabu people at 23andMe have given me a chance to offer you the chance to win the DNA Testing Service for yourself. It’s worth $399 and gives you access to detailed information about your traits, family background and health predispositions—to enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post answering one of the following questions:

Is there anything about your family background that you hope genotyping might help you figure out?
One of the main goals of 23andMe is to further research into the genetic aspect of our health. How do you think having more information about your own genes might help you manage your health?
What would you do if you found out you were predisposed to something…let’s just say scary. Would you freak out, or feel empowered?

I’ll use Random.com to pick a winner. Now the legal mumbo jumbo: The contest is open to legal residents of the USA, ages 18 or older and the winner is responsible for any applicable taxes. Here’s a link to the official rules:

Comments will be open until 11 PM on Sunday, June 28, and will contact the winner sometime on Monday, June 29. Make sure you leave your email (it won’t show up in your comment online) so I can let you know you’ve won. 

Good Luck Everybody!

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Forty is the new thirty.  Fifty is the new forty.  Twenty one is the new eighteen.  In fact, my hormones are skyrocketing to adolescent levels even as I type.

It’s the new math.  And Lord knows, I’ve never been much good at math. Funny.  I’m not much good at getting younger as I age, either.

This  new math is everywhere.  It also applies to clothing: What used to be called a size ten is now called a size eight. (Though at Old Navy, they call it a size six.  God bless vanity sizing.) In this economy, it also applies to shopping: what used to cost $30 now is a 50%-off fifteen bucks.

Everything that can have a numerical value associated with it seems to have gone down.  Except, of course, the size a woman is “supposed to be.”

Seems to me that the only value moving backwards the “optimum” size for a woman, as portrayed by TV, magazines, movies, and runway shows.  Because according to them, size six is the new size twelve. In other words:if you’re wearing a size six, you’re big.  Excuse me?  I mean, I’m pretty pleased when I’m in my vanity size 8’s, thank you very much.

Maybe it does make sense. After all, if we’re all getting younger, shouldn’t we all be getting thinner too? Shouldn’t we all be careening towards pre-pubescent hips, flawless skin, and the ability to be out in the freezing cold without a jacket? I don’t know about you, but I’m not “youngening.”  I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again: if forty really is the new thirty, somebody forgot to tell my thighs. And my knees, and my eyesight. I’m not getting thinner and tauter any more than I’m getting younger and more interested in The Jonas Brothers.   My brain may say thirty, but my ovaries say “I don’t think so.” (more…)

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Several months ago, I had my genome sequenced by 23andMe as part of becoming a founding member of their online pregnancy community.  (Ok, Ok, I explain this every week, I know.  Have you figured it out yet?  It’s a disclaimer:  I work for them.  If you think that means I can’t write honestly about them…well, you’re wrong.  Just deal with it.)

ANYWAY – I spat – and videotaped it – because I was paid — but also because I was curious.  What would I learn about myself?  What might it tell me about my kids?   Was I really related to Harry Connick  Jr.? And it has been fascinating: I have an increased tendency toward addiction — so maybe my wimpy fear of trying drugs was really my genes protecting me.  Reassuring: I do not have the Breast Cancer gene, though my mother has had BC.  Entertaining:  I share 74% of my genetic sequence with a Nigerian man! Who knew?  And also enlightening:  I have an increased sensitivity to Warfarin, an anti-clotting drug my father has taken every day for the last 50 or so years. Plus, I am at genetically increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, so I know to watch my weight, diet and exercise for more than my usual vanity reasons.

My family was right on it: what did I learn?  What did it say about them? When was I going to stop all this blogging and do something worthwhile?  (Well, you know, once the questions got started, they weren’t gonna let a chance to ask that one slip by.)

So I did what any good daughter/sister would do:  I signed them up, too. (The discount benefits of freelance employee status – yeah!) I could only pick three people.  My father said he wasn’t interested.  My sister wasn’t sure.  My kids were too young.  My husband’s philosophy is “what I don’t know can’t hurt me.”  Only my mother wanted in.

Until they all changed their minds.  First, my sister:  I’m nervous, but I think I should know things…in case they impact my kids.” Ok. Sister in.  Then, my father: “I’ll do it.  I’m curious about the technology, to see how it all works.  Sounds fascinating.”  Then my husband: “What?  I never said I didn’t want to do it!  I want to do it.”  Too late.  Mom, Dad and Sis were in.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the spittoon:  none of them spat.  On Passover at my parents, I saw their 23andMe spit kits sitting unused on the counter.  At my sister’s one Sunday afternoon, I saw her spit kit buried under a mound of mail on her desk. What happened to the fascination?  What happened to the interest?  What happened to their NERVE?

Sure it’s scary to find out about your innards.  You might learn something you’d rather not know.  But you also might find out something valuable to know – something that makes you change your lifestyle to avoid a heart attack, or Type 2 Diabetes.

I’ve dived right in – joining forums, comparing genes with total strangers, exploring my origins.  I didn’t think it was scary at all.  I thought it was exciting.

Now if I could just get my family to spit, I could learn even more….

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Genes vs Jeans

IS093-053They either make my butt look too big, or too broad. They accentuate my gut or give me muffin top.  They are jeans.  The bane of my existence.  My dream is to be able to look good in a white t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and some flip flops.  But it seems that my genes won’t let me look good in my jeans.

If any of you have been paying attention, you’ll know that for the past several months, I’ve been writing for 23andMe as one of their founding community members in the Pregnancy Community.  (And no, I’m not preggers.  I just have been – thus, I qualify.)  According to my genes, I am at a slightly elevated risk for obesity.  According to my genes, I will never look good in the aforementioned jeans, t-shirt and flip flops ensemble.  According to my jeans, my genes are correct.

I find it almost impossible to buy jeans.  If they’re “classic cut” they make my butt look like North Dakota – wide and flat.  If they’re low cut –  well, where do I begin?  How are you supposed to wear underwear with those low-cut jeans?  And if you’re not supposed to wear underwear (yuck!), then what are you supposed to do with your – ahem – furry bits?  Brazillian?  I don’t expect to rhumba any time soon.  Plus, I find it more than slightly offensive that men – with their hairy backs, fuzzy butts, and occasional ear hair, deem it “sexy” for a grown woman to be hairless “down there.”  Call me crazy, but that smacks of pedophilia to me.

Then there’s the question of how to keep those low-cut jeans from falling down.  Many’s the time I walked behind a teenage home-boy, wondering how he does it.  It truly is a miracle of fashion physics.  Their pants stay up, even with their waistbands way down.

SO I was already worried enough about my jeans, when suddenly my genes had to complicate things.

According to my genes, I am also at greater risk for developing diabetes.  Yet this doesn’t phase me.  Genes only slightly influence diabetes.  I figure that if I exercise and eat right, it won’t be a problem.  But obesity?  I’m a girl who watches each cookie I eat deposit itself as fat on my upper thighs.  I am a girl who almost always buys the size large.  I am the girl with back-muffin-top.  You know, at the bra line?  This obesity gene – is serious business. IT’S FREAKING ME OUT!

And because of that diabetes risk, I can even have a pint of chocolate chip mint to soothe my worried mind.

Darn you, jean-etics!

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Wanna Share Genomes?

I wouldn’t share my sandwich with a stranger.  I wouldn’t tell even a close friend what I weigh.  I’d never disclose my annual income, or the secret ingredient that makes my vinaigrette’ so great.  Yet here on 23andMe, I share my genetic code with total strangers.

I mean, really.  What’s more intimate than that?

To read the rest of this post, go to 23andMe.com

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23andme_logoTake a guess as to how statistically similar you are to any other random person in the world.

8% maybe? 20% 33%?

The true number, according to the 23andMe geneticists, is anywhere from 63-69%.  If the random person happens to be your same race, that number jumps to  between 73% and 74.%  And that’s just the part (or SNP’s – look it up!) that they look at.  Overall, the similarity number is closer to 98%.


I know, I know.  We all have 23 sets of chromosomes (hence 23andMe – don’t worry, I didn’t figure that out for a while either.) We all (mostly) have two arms, two eyes, two kidneys, one heart. (well, everyone but my sixth grade English teacher.  Only someone without a heart could make kids diagram sentences for hours on end.)

It kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? So many of our society’s ills are based around our (perceived) differences: racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia. Certainly the latest You Tube phenomenon, Susan Boyle, has brought up the ever-present “look-ism” we as a culture all engage in.

Those opposed to Gay marriage see gay people as “other.”  Guess what?  They’re MORE THAN 50% genetical identical to you.  How about those who have problems with those of a different race?  Can I hear another “more than 50%? Those people you don’t like because of their religion? Ditto.

I know, we’re all different from each other.  Each of us is unique. And I know, too, that we are not our biology. A large part of who we are is how we think, what we feel, how we behave.  But still.  Differences tend to define us.  But we are way more similar than we are different.  And maybe, just maybe, if more thought about things that way – well – it may be a cliche.  But maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place.

Full Disclosure: this post was sponsored (but not influenced) by 23andMe.

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23andme_logoI spoke to a geneticist at 23andMe today (as a paid blogger for them (full disclosure here) I get that courtesy.) and told him that it seemed to me that I was (genetically speaking anyway) completely average in every way.

“Didn’t you see the Diabetes?” he  asked.

Well, yes.  According to my 23andMe genetic analysis, I am significantly more genetically disposed to Type 2 Diabetes than your average person. I had seen it, but I didn’t care.  I figured that environmental factors were way more significant than genetic ones, and since I’m not obese, I don’t smoke, and I don’t have a sweet tooth, I sort of dismissed the whole thing.

As it turns out, my English Major self was scientifically correct: genes account for only 26% of risk factors for developing diabetes.  74% of your risk has to do with how you eat and other environmental stuff. Not to worry. Case dismissed. (more…)

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23andme_logoI am a terrible spitter. Seriously. I am one of those people who, when she tries to spit (like, say after getting a mouthful of gnats while running on a summer day. And yes, I sometimes do run. Not a lot, but sometimes. Hey, it isn’t easy finding time to run)

ANWAY, I am one of those people who, when she tries to spit, ends up with a chin full of drool. I’m not even good at spitting out my toothpaste. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve found toothpaste IN MY HAIR after brushing. Of course, I only find it after it’s dried and stuck together in a little clump on my head, because realizing that it was there while I was standing at the sink would just be too easy, what with the ability at that moment to rinse it out and all.

Honestly, it’s not as if it’s been a big issue for me. Spitting is for old men, tobacco chewing baseball players, and babies, when they eat something they don’t like. It’s not like I’ve aspired to be the Michael Phelps of spitting. Honking a lugey has never been high on my list of to-do lists, not to mention to-do-well lists.

I even think the word is awful. Spit. Sounds like an expletive, doesn’t it? No really, say it really loudly and with a bit of anger in your voice. See? Now go wash your mouth out with soap, you naughty girl, you.

Even the clinical alternative to the word spit, “saliva,” seems salacious. It sounds like one of your “female” parts, the uterus, the vulva, the saliva.

So I’m not a spitter. You can imagine, then, how I felt when I saw the amount of saliva I had to produce for 23andMe. (I couldn’t help but notice that the thing you have to spit into for 23andMe is called a vial! Get it? Vile/Vial. Accident? I think not!)

But you know what? It wasn’t that bad. I think my problem with spitting has always been the distance thing. Projectile spitting is not my forte. Spitting directly into a little tube, however, was perfectly fine. Gross, but fine. I got all the saliva in there without too much difficulty.

Once I had the spit, I took a look. I haven’t seen that much of my own saliva in one place since I was fitted for a retainer in seventh grade. But this spit was different, special. It was sort of like a test-tube baby. All this promise in a tube: the promise of learning about my heritage, delving into my genetic make-up, solving, perhaps, the mystery of why I’ve never, ever, been good at math.

Who knows what all this spitting will bring? Maybe I’ll start to associate spitting not with old men and phlegmy handkerchiefs, but with knowledge and medical breakthroughs. But for now, I think I’ve spit enough. Excuse me while I go wipe my chin.

Full Disclosure:  I am a founding member of the 23andMe and me Pregnancy Community, which sponsored this post.

Part of the mission of 23andMe is to increase research into pregnancy and pregnancy related issues.  You can be a part of it (even if you don’t spit!) The more women who participate by answering surveys, the better the reasearch will be. If you are currently pregnant  or have been pregnant before please visit http://www.23andme.com/pregnancy and complete a short survey.

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23andme-logoSo the 23andMe pregnancy community launched today on Good Morning America.

And since I’m officially a “founding member” of the community, I was wondering…what do people think of getting tested while pregnant?  Some people are saying too much information isn’t always a good thing.  I say, how can we know too much when it comes to the health of our children?  I also say, it isn’t necessarily about you.  The more women who get tested, the more data will be out there, the more possibility there is for real discovery and change.

(Full disclosure again: I’m a (nominally) paid blogger for 23andMe. But they DO NOT tell me what to say.  Except to let you know I’m a nominally paid blogger.)

I’d love it if you weighed in on this one.  Take the poll below, then feel free to elaborate in the comments section.

And one last thing: You can help out with the research even if you don’t get tested— if you are currently pregnant  or have been pregnant before please visit http://www.23andme.com/pregnancy and complete a short survey.

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