Proactive Medical Testing Part III – 23 and Me and A Couple of Things

What a difference 5 years make! Five years ago I had cancer and genetic testing was expensive, not covered by insurance and not commonly used. And Direct to Consumer testing hadn’t exploded yet.

Looking more in depth at what is out there was initiated by my test through my doctor’s office. So this is the last of the three tests I took. I have compared two Direct to Consumer tests with one done by a Doctor who specializes in genetic testing.

From AARP Magazine/ Oct/November 2018 Mega Gene Test for Targeted Cancer Treatment. FoundationOne CDx is one-stop shopping for genebased treatments. Just one test can check for mutations in 324 genes involved in cancer growth allowing oncologists to identify the most promising treatments quickly. FDA approved.

I first heard of 23 & Me when I started my bio family search in 2015. I tested with them because I tested with everything that was available.

I thought about Genetic Testing in relation to my cancer but not in the Direct-to-Consumer kind of way.

In 2015 23 & Me was dealing with the FDA on their ability to market various health tests.

Just this last Sunday 23 & Me announced its New Diabetes Tests. Basically from the reviews I read about it say it is good for white European people.It also said that they ” provides a polygenic score based on gene variant research data from roughly 2.5 million customers, 70,000 of which reported diabetes”Jon Fingas@jonfingas03.10.19 in Medicine.

So they did some kind of scientific math thing that they say equal outs the fact that the majority of data come from White European people.
23 & Me says this test is accurate for black, Asian and Latino customers. But there are people in the scientific world that contend that the polygenic score results just don’t hold up for this group.

In March 2018, the FDA approved … one for a DTC test for three specific BRCA mutations that are the most common BRCA mutations in people of Ashkenazi descent; they are not however the most common BRCAmutations in the general population, and the test is only for three of the approximately 1,000 known mutations. These mutations increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, and the risk of breast and prostate cancer in men.“FDA authorizes, with special controls, direct-to-consumer test that reports three mutations in the BRCA breast cancer genes”. FDA. March 6, 2018. Wikipedia

The BRCA test is one of their Health Predisposition tests.

The examples above shows a possible difficultly for the consumer when they do direct to consumer tests. You hear BRCA you think Breast Cancer or Diabetes Type 2 and don’t realize the depth and breath that any genetic testing involves. And the information you receive is not black and white.

Most importantly is this geared for you and your goals. Do you want to know the answers to these questions.

As mentioned before the most exciting thing for me initially was my Neanderthal Ancestry. I am just fascinated by them. I am also grateful for the variant I got from them for having less back hair.

Image result for Neanderthal photo 23 & me

At 23 & Me currently you get beside the Neanderthal report the Health Predisposition, Carrier Status, Wellness and Traits reports. You can also add additional information on 23 & Me which they keep in their data base, if you wish.

The Traits Report

There are 28 of them,and it is no surprise it is a report about traits you may or may not have. True my hair will lighten in the sun and have either straight or wavy hair.

The Wellness Report

It tells you how your body reacts to sleep, diet and exercise. It gives you 8 reports. It turns out I am a power athlete.

Studies have found that almost all elite power athletes (including sprinters, throwers, and jumpers) have a specific genetic variant in a gene related to muscle composition. You have the same genetic variant as these elite athletes. 23 & Me web site

Carrier Status Report

Keep in mind that while our Carrier Status reports cover many variants, they don’t include all possible variants associated with each condition. So it’s still possible to be a carrier of a variant not included in our test. 23 & Me

There are 28 of these reports and at this point are not of much interest to me. As stated above from 23 & Me most/all reports have some kind of disclaimer.

Health Predisposition

Includes both reports that meet FDA requirements for Genetic Health Risks and reports powered by 23andMe research. Currently includes 11 reports.

Image result for Brca Test photo 23 & me
Talked about this test at beginning of blog

In this day and age of instant answers most if not all people just hear the “sound bites” and jump in. I would guess that with millions of people doing some kind of direct to consumer genetic testing there is not a lot of in-depth research going on.

I am not for it or against it. Like with anything and especially with something so new to consumers research before you decide what to do. There are not a lot of rules and your own personal level of privacy and what you are comfortable with should be of concern as well.

I decided to do these tests for a variety of reasons not just one. And as I continue to review the information and as I receive additional test results I will give copies to my doctors and see what tomorrow brings.

These like with everything on this blog are my thoughts and if not mine I do my very best to credit who’s thoughts they are.

See below Blaine’s Bettinger’s and Debbie Parker Wayne’s thoughts from their book Genetic Genealogy in Practice about genetic testing. (I read the book and a good read and explanations for the non-scientists among us.)

Also no one pays me anything for writing what i write. It is what I have either researched and/or experienced and/or concluded….

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