'Who Am I?': DNA testing explores genetic history

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(WAND) – A simple method exists if someone is curious about their genetic history.

A DNA test from biotechnology company “23andMe” can give a person a close look at their genetic makeup, risk for disease and likely physical traits. To go through a test, the person needs to spit into a tube, then shake it, cap it and send it to the company for testing.

WAND-TV’s Sean Streaty decided to try it for himself. He discovered he is 66.7 percent European and 29 percent Saharan-African. He has a high percentage of British, Irish and West African DNA. He has mixed race parentage.

Sean also found out he has a variant in one gene that creates a slightly higher risk for onset Alzheimer’s disease.

He sent a second DNA test to Ancestry.com and hasn't received it back yet. His hope was to compare the two tests.

A genetic counselor says a number of factors can affect a person’s risk for disease.

“There are a lot of people walking around that have this copy or something two copies that never go on to get Alzheimer’s,” Scott Weissman said. “It really (is about) having that understanding that it is one risk factor in a variety of factors that can increase or decrease our risk for that disease.”

Going through with a DNA test does not come with any privacy risk. Weissman says “23andMe” does not share or sell your ancestry information.

“They can’t increase your rates (and) they can’t drop you,” Weissman said. “There are laws protecting (you against) employers getting your information.”

Click here to learn more about genetic counselors. 

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