Today marks the 66th anniversary of the discovery of DNA’s double helix. It happens to coincide with one of our Engineers’ waiting for his results from a popular DNA testing brand. We asked him to explain his decision… 

I decided to get my DNA tested for a number of reasons.

  1. This might be a post rationalisation but I’ve attended a number of health-related conferences where I have heard about the wonders of personalised and precision healthcare, and how it surely is the future.
  2. I’ve been listening to podcasts on the impact of ‘biological variability’ and know that my body will react differently to a certain diet than the next person. Being healthy is a constant aspiration of mine so surely any insight that might improve my health is worth a shot, right?
  3. The underlying truth is that however I try to rationalise the £149 purchase from 23andMe, the real driving force was just plain curiosity.

At the end of the month I’ll be receiving 125+ reports about my ancestry and health based on a saliva sample I sent off to Canada roughly 6 weeks ago. According to the website, the clever people in the labs will be able to detect whether I am a genetic risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, determine what time in the morning I should be naturally waking up, and whether I am more or less likely to be scared of heights, among other things.

Of all of the reports available, it is the wellness section that I am most interested in.

The big question for me is around whether the reports will reveal information to me that could help me make healthier lifestyle choices, or at least be more conscious of them when I know I am making a poor decision. I want to take the government guidelines for nutrient intake to the next level and have it all tailored to me.

My expectations, however, are more realistic. I suspect deep down that the technology is not quite there yet and this won’t be the holy grail of personalised health. I have seen some sample reports and the information provided is very basic:

Well duhh…

I posed my big question to a friend who was an early adopter of the technology and has had his results for a number of years. On finding out he has a genetic condition that puts the retina in his eye at risk, his reply was “Ummm… I wouldn’t bungee jump anymore”. Useful to know, but not exactly life changing.

I have committed to a follow-up blog once I have received my results. I’ll be able to tell you with greater confidence whether I think DNA testing really is the future of healthcare or whether it’s just going to be another dose of guilt for when I think about my cookie intake.

Categories: Health

BY ENGINEER Nick Campbell

nick.campbell@thevalueengineers.com