In a previous blog post, I detailed my experience with 23andme, a service for using your DNA to determine your ancestry. (You spit in a tube, send it off, and wait six weeks.) This Southern Belle learned that she is Northern European but I was very excited to learn I am four percent French. Now the FDA has given the company permission to release health reports. I received the email saying my reports were available.
What is powerful here is that I could learn whether or not I have a variant for late onset Alzheimer’s. My mother died after eight years of the disease at the age of 92. It was not a pretty picture of this lady who had been healthy and a strong-willed woman. It was early morning when I received the email. I was up before my Favorite Yankee, which is unusual. I logged onto the 23andme site and there was the link for health reports.
I sat and thought for a while. Did I really want to know if I have the Alzheimer’s variant? What if the answer was yes? Would I tell anyone? Would it help to know for end of life planning? Would it change how I faced the future? I clicked and opened the report. The result? “Variant not detected for late onset Alzheimer’s Disease.” Of course there is the disclaimer: “Our reports do not include all possible genetic variants that could affect these conditions. Other factors can also affect your risk of developing these conditions, including lifestyle, environment, and family history.” But the finding gives me hope. I also learned that I do not have the variant for Parkinson’s Disease.
What I do know as I age is that I have a great deal of control over the future if I eat right, exercise my body and mind, and maintain relationships. For an introvert like me, those social contacts are important. Here’s to the future- whatever it brings.