Wednesday, January 26, 2011

23andMe Results

I recently received 23andMe DNA results. There's nothing earth-shattering in the report. For example, I have a 1% chance of a heart attack over the next decade. Also, as of January 2011, my carrier statuses indicated that all of the relevant variants were absent for the selected disease categories, including--I kid you not--Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B.

Basically, I'm "typical" in most categories. One category where I have a higher than average risk? Heroin addiction. Yes, it's weird and interesting at the same time, because Alexander the Great introduced opium in the Middle East and Persia. (I was born in Iran, and both my parents are Iranians with a long line of Iranian descendants.) More access to a particular drug in a particular region might skew results relating to the drug's susceptibility, so all genetic data has to be taken with a grain of salt. Below are more selected results, in case you are interested:

In addition to having higher odds of becoming a heroin addict, I am a likely sprinter (i.e., not a long distance runner), built for short bursts of speed and power; resistant to stomach "flu"; I "effectively learn to avoid errors" (although it's entirely unclear how it's possible to analyze this trait from a genetic profile); and I have reduced sensitivity to sweaty odor (Tell me if I stink, people! Apparently, I can't help it :-)

Globally, my genetic similarities most closely match peoples in Southern Europe, then Northern Europe, then the Middle East. I have some similarities with Sephardic/Spanish Jews and Lebanese (Phoenician?) people; ancestrally, 98% of my chromosomes are closely related to Europeans with 2% closely related to Asians.

On my dad's side, it looks like his profile closely matches Southern Europe as well as Iran. From his side, I have similarities with Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Crete, and Italy, as well as modern-day populations of Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, and Albania. (Note: I don't entirely understand how 23andMe matches specific religions with genes. All human beings are closely linked genetically, so if more Druze than Jews provide data to a particular genetic study, isn't it possible for the researchers to start referencing "Jewish" genes as "Druze" genes? How can a genetic study accurately classify more or fewer study participants from one race or religion than exist in the general population? In other words, isn't it possible to have skewed results if the participants providing genetic data do not match the percentages of races/religions in the actual population?)

On my mom's side, it looks like her profile closely matches Russia/Finland or Morocco (including Basques and the Saami (Lapps) of northern Scandinavia). It sounds improbable to be similar to both Finnish and Moroccan people, but the people known today as Finns apparently split up about 6,000 years ago. Some of them crossed into Morocco, while others continued to modern-day Finland. Also, the Aryans came out of India and moved throughout modern-day Europe, parts of Northern Africa, and parts of the Middle East. (Anyone from two parents and grandparents who were born near a large body of water probably has a diverse genetic mix.)

Regarding the potential link to Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, do I look like actor Hank Azaria or Oded Fehr? I'm not sure. (Note: Oded Fehr is an interesting case--both his parents are Jewish, and his father appears to be of Northern European descent (German) while his mother appears to be of Southern European descent (Spanish).) Persian, Spanish, and Northern African Jews have an interesting history--for starters, look up the Biblical story of Esther; Cordoba or Qurtuba, Spain (and compare Cordoba under Muslim rule to 400 years later, i.e., the beginning of the Catholic Spanish Inquisition); the Golden Age of Arab Rule in Iberia; Maimonides; and the Almohad conquest of Cordoba in 1148.

If I am an Iranian with genetic links to Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, it doesn't surprise me, because my Persian ancestors protected Jews during the Persian Empire. Unfortunately, you wouldn't know that important fact from all the inane rhetoric and verbal pissing contests between modern-day Israel and modern-day Iran. Seems like these days, people try to look for reasons to be different or hostile towards one another--even when the facts justify a more nuanced perspective.

Disclaimer: I do not waive my privacy rights in any way, shape, or form. I have only disclosed a small portion of my available results.

Update on 7/2/13: well, this is interesting--the site has updated my ancestry:

99.7% Middle Eastern and North African;
0.1% European; and
0.3% Unassigned

It has a new feature as well: I am 2.6% Neanderthal, which is in the 32nd percentile. [Update in 2014: this now shows as ranked in the 60th percentile.]

Update on 9/22/14: the site updated my ancestry again:


Seen another way, I'm 86.5% Middle Eastern; 2.2% Southeast Asian; 2.1% European; 0.8 Yakut; and less than 0.1% Ashkenazi.

Some interesting drug response updates: someone with my genotype 1) typically metabolizes PPIs at a rapid rate; 2) may be more sensitive to warfarin; 3) may have slightly increased sensitivity to phenytoin; and 4) and may have somewhat reduced ability to clear sulfonylurea drugs from the body.

Disclaimer: I do not waive my privacy rights in any way, shape, or form. I have only disclosed a small portion of my available results. 

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