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Interesting But Daunting

The health results that some consumer personal genomics companies offer can be a bit scary, writes Constance Watson at the UK's Spectator.

Watson recounts her experience with genomic analysis by 23andMe. Overall, she notes that the process of ordering a kit online from 23andMe, filling the vial with saliva, and sending it off again is straightforward, though she notes the spitting part can be "fiddly" and you need to "have had lots of delicious dinners in recent history that can be summoned to the forefront of memory."

She adds the website containing her results was easy to use, and the ancestry information it provided about her was "fascinating" — she learned 2.8 percent of her DNA could be traced to a Neanderthal origin.

But, the health data was a bit more worrisome, she says. "Genetic risk factors, inherited conditions, traits, and drug responses are all a little frightening," Watson writes. She adds that she learned she has a proton pump inhibitor metabolism that has a rapid response rate, but that she still hasn't figured out just what that means.

"23andMe is a brilliant invention, easy to use, and infinitely fascinating," Watson concludes. "But it serves to remind us that, all too often, ignorance is bliss."