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My Genes Say What?

NBC News health writer Maggie Fox shares insights and experiences centered around her foray into direct-to-consumer genetic testing, focusing on spit kits from 23andMe, Vitagene, Helix, and Orig3n.

From a detailed, research-heavy 23andMe report, for example, Fox learned that she may be less prone to weight gain — but likely still susceptible to clogged arteries — when wolfing down high-saturated fat foods.

That report also provided feedback on common variants implicated in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer. 23andMe's inclusion of health-related variants in BRCA1/2 and other genes has been long-debated and met with some recent opposition from health professionals.

Similar saturated fat and ancestry clues came from Fox's 23andMe and Vitagene tests, she writes, though the reports contained conflicting information on her caffeine metabolism. Her Vitagene report also included probiotic, vitamin, and supplement recommendations not supported by research cited in the piece.

Along with such tidbits, Fox delves into some of the recent literature around DTC tests as well as the limitations inherent in focusing on common variants, which may not provide definitive health or lifestyle predictions. As for the other two DTC tests? "Helix and Orig3n say they lost my results," Fox writes.