I told my closest friends that I was going to take the "spit test" and get my DNA tested. My buddies couldn't understand why I wanted to do it. They thought I was crazy. They saw the results as indicative of medical problems they had and anything they didn't have right now they were happy not to know about. It's the deer in the headlights syndrome: it's just going to happen.
My book group buddies, however, were very interested. They asked questions about the process and what results to expect.
I talked Peggy into having a genome done. If the results weren't too scary I would do it too. My eyebrows shot up when I saw an email confirmation that Peg had ordered two kits. I had been willing to spend three hundred dollars to see how it all worked, but was shocked that we were spending six hundred dollars at Christmas time. Peg calmed me down by explaining that the prices, once around a thousand dollars for each individual being researched, was now down to less than a hundred. So for about two hundred dollars we could provide information to our children about our ancestry and health possibilities.
The website for 23andMe has short videos that explain what they can do. The current cost for processing your DNA and delivering the information is $99.
The kits arrived. I quickly read the instructions . . . well, kind of read the instructions and then filled my little plastic vial with saliva, sealed it and mailed it back. Peg's kit sat on her desk for well over a month. 23andme supplies surveys to complete that add additional information for their database. She was very careful with her surveys.
The information arrives via email. It takes about six to eight weeks to get back the first results. I held my breath and hoped for the best. Like many adults I was worried about markers for Alzheimer's Disease. I knew that there were four major ones. I was in for a big surprise. And it started with my ancestors. For my father's ancestry my sister Marsha could trace back the Doman line only so far, but being from Missouri I knew that I had relatives on both sides of the Civil War. I've always been a rebel.
The Forkner side of my dad's family she traced back to England, but the Domans remained stymied at 1809. For my mother's side it was said they came over on the Mayflower. In reality I think people from my mother's side were there to greet the pilgrims.
This is the ancestry map of my father's line for the haplogroup R1b1b2 circa 500 years ago, before the era of intercontinental travel. "R1b1b2 is the most common haplogroup in western Europe, where its branches are clustered in various national populations. R1b1b2a1a2b is characteristic of the Basque, while R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland and R1b1b2a1a1 is most commonly found on the fringes of the North Sea." Haplogroups are the major branches of the family tree for Homo Sapiens.
This is the ancestry map of my mother's line for the haplogroup X circa 500 years ago, before the era of intercontinental travel."While relatively rare, haplogroup X is a remarkably widespread lineage, scattered from northern Africa and western Europe all the way to North America. Groups with X2, the most common daughter lineage of X, spread dramatically through most of Eurasia after the glaciers receded at the end of the Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago." Ah, yes, we are first peoples. I knew there was some Native American blood; after all, my mom was born in Oklahoma. When she was alive I would delight myself by making comments about Oklahoma. In the feature film Hang 'Em High starring Clint Eastwood, his character is hung for rustling and left hanging. He is cut down later and revived. As he comes to he asks, "Am I in Hell?" The answer was, "Some people call it that, but you're still in Oklahoma Territory." I loved retelling that story to her . . . just to see the look on her face.
The DNA information is for more than fortune telling. The results don't tell you what's going to happen, but more the likelihood of things happening. Epigentics gives us hope.
Rod Dashwood, Ph.D., LPI Principal Investigator, Director of the LPI Cancer Chemoprotection Program explains the world of epigentics:
"Epigenetics has finally arrived front-and-center on the popular landscape. A recent cover of Time magazine showed an image of doublestranded DNA being unzipped next to the words, Why your DNA isn't your destiny. The cover stated: The new science of epigenetics reveals how the choices you make can change your genes - and those of your kids. Just how new this science really is can be debated, since it likely goes back to Darwin and Lamarck and opposing views of nature versus nurture. Whereas Darwin argued that incremental changes underlie the process of natural selection and survival-of-the fittest, Lamarck postulated that some traits were acquired within a lifetime due to environmental pressures."
(Check out the video at the bottom of the page by Neil Degrasse Tyson on Epigentics)
In other words our fate is not in our stars or in our DNA. What we eat, what we drink, and even the air we breathe can change our DNA. It's our lifestyle and even includes exercise. This means that the possibility exists of changing our DNA and improving our lifespan and healthspan. With good nutrition, exercise and an active social life, we can keep our bodies and brains in good health.
I'm still looking at the results and figuring out what this means to me and what I can do to change some possible outcomes. More later.
c. 2013 - Live2AgeWell.com
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The following video will give you even more information about epigentics to improve your health as you age: