Tag Archives: South Asia

Genes and ancestry

Back in April, 23andme had a special offer by which you could get their personal genome screen for just the price of a one-year membership. Having read Gene Expression off and on for the last few years, I have gradually grown more interested in the world of personal genomics, but what really caught my attention was when Zack Ajmal started his Harappa Ancestry Project back in January. His focus on Indian ancestry really opened up new possibilities for me, and by following his blog (and paying more attention to Razib’s posts on the subject) I felt a great to desire to join in the fun.

So, back in April, I ordered my kit. And then I did nothing with it for a few weeks. It was nice to contemplate it, savour the sense of possibility. But there was also the matter of not eating, drinking or brushing your teeth within half an hour of giving the (saliva) sample. And it seemed like every time I realise that the kit was sitting there – I had just broken one of those rules. Eventually I got myself to do it, mailed off the kit, and a few days ago I finally got my results. And I was faced with a new question – now what?

The first set of results I got had to do with things like disease status and traits. I learned that I am likely to be at higher risk for some diseases, at lower risk for others. It was interesting observe my own reactions to these results – my initial reaction was to downplay both the negatives (the higher risks of certain diseases) while also downplaying the positives. The former makes sense – the odds of most of these things are low enough that even if my risk is higher, it’s still very small. On the other hand, even if my risk of Type II diabetes is about 20% lower than the average, it’s still shockingly high – mostly because the average risk is shockingly high. After a while though, I came back to the realisation that, with regards to the things that might pose a higher risk…well, I need to use that information to my advantage, keep an eye out for things (without being a hypochondriac) and maybe a little knowledge might let me catch a problem sooner, rather than later… (More later)