I 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.
The geneticist said that over at 23andMe, they were worried that people would just see the number and stop reading. That there’d be all these worried people out there, who might need to be a bit careful – but didn’t need to go and start pricking their fingers and swearing off chocolate bars, either.
Hmmmm, I thought, biting into a cookie. Not me.
Our conversation got me thinking: I’ve always thought of myself as a worrier.
I worry about my kids getting hurt while they ride their bicycles. I worry about my husband working in the building right on top of Grand Central Station (images of 9/11 are hard to erase.), I worry about whether or not I should let my daughter pierce her ears.
If I had a dollar for every time my husband tells me I worry too much – well, I’d have enough money not to worry about paying for the law suit he’d file after I whopped him one for calling me names. Because, as it turns out, I’m not a worrier. I didn’t worry as I waited for the results of my genetic analysis, and I’m not worried about the few increased risk factors that showed up in my results.
This is an unexpected bonus to having used the service: not only do I know that I am genetically likely to have brown eyes (they are blue), genetically predisposed to Heroin addiction (never touched the stuff), and typically pre-disposed to nicotine addiction (I’m the kind of smoker smokers hate: I have one cigarette every three months!) I also know that I’m not such a worrier after all.
But if you kids think that means you can go biking without your helmets…well, think again.