So, here in the UK last night there was a rather interesting (if a little fluffy) BBC programme called Meet The Izzards which showed the comedian Eddie Izzard discovering where his parents’ DNA came from. Last night’s programme showed him tracing early human history through Africa and then connecting his mother’s specific markers to Italy, Turkey, Denmark and back to the UK. (If you’re in the UK you can catch the programme on BBC’s iPlayer for the next week or so here.)
The reason I mention it here is I found it fascinating to see a more specific version of the personal genetics testing I did as part of my 101 goals in 1001 days back in 2010-11.
It’s not all that common to get a genetics test here in the UK but as a geek and a family historian it’s something I’d been thinking about for a while. Plus I have a very varied family history (Portuguese, Chinese, Scottish, French, English) which I was keen on learning more about and I’m lacking health information for my father’s side of the family. So in 2010, when the the company I was most interested in using, 23andMe, had an early Christmas sale I clicked the ‘Buy’ button and then the fun began.
I wrote a series of posts about what happened next: the practicalities of ordering the (charmingly named) ‘spit test’, the health information I got back (including disease markers like certain types of cancers), the family history related information, unexpected results in my genetic mix and using the 23andMe Relative Finder feature to connect with genetic cousins in Finland. You can see those posts here:
23andMe Post Series:
Perhaps the most exciting thing since doing the test has been seeing how the database has grown and all the new data that 23andMe is regularly making available. There’s a couple of interesting new things I’ve found out since I wrote these posts so I’ll be adding an update to the series at the weekend. The bottom line is that I really would recommend taking a genetics test if you’re curious, I’ve found the experience genuinely fascinating. :)