I’d been eyeing on the commercial DNA test since I moved to North America, but was hesitant about the accuracy of such test. Not until recently my boss took the test and showed me how “fun” the results were. So I decided to grab the (discounted) kit and sent my sample to the lab. I chose 23andme as one of the commercial service provider here in North America.
So why would I splash CAD160 only to reveal my ethnicity compositions (the kit comes with traits, and health analysis, too). I’ve been asked by so many people my whole life, why I physically look different than common Indonesians, particularly than the rest of my family members. Very light (to fair) skin, brunette, hazel eyes. My most effective, end-of-discussion answer, would be “… because I have European ancestry…”. My parents also use the same answer.
But the truth is, no one… no one ever, can actually verify it. And deep down inside, I am never sure about having such ancestry. It just doesn’t make sense, because I am the only one in the family with such features (few cousins share common features, though, which is so random).
I also got so many questions about why I am always underweight, and my answer is “It’s genetics” only because my two brothers are also underweight. But we are not sure.
I took the test, to find out the truth. Of course I didn’t do it without research. I set my expectation by doing lots of reading on the service. The conclusion? It’s a “recreational science.” It’s not necessarily proven and their level of accuracy relies on their data set. it’s about percentile: how you are compared to the set of data they own. Meaning, the more data set of people who share the same genetics with me, the more “likely” the result corresponds to reality.
I finally received my result just few days ago. It displays so many interesting findings and details, from ancestry percentage, genetic-based health factors, and traits. I won’t elaborate everything (you should try it, it’s amusing!), but here’s two important highlights which (finally!) serve as the answer of some of the most pressing questions about my genetics:
- I am definitely Asian. No European. But, the result says that people who share similar genetics with me will have everything the opposite of my physical features. So why do I have all those features? I have no idea. Some irregular variations maybe? (Disappointing explanation, duh?)
- I tend to weight less than average. This explains why I am underweight my whole life. Weight has genetics factor guyss!
But it’s a “recreational science” after all. Those results are no way near accuracy nor reality. Why? The provider admits their analysis are based on estimations, and they particularly don’t have enough data set on people of my ethnicity. They even provide results on traits based on assumption from genetics of different ethnicity, which is not necessarily relevant.
Do the results serve as facts? I would say it gives some senses about my ethnicity, traits, and health tendency. It’s scientific, but it’s just for fun. At least for me, now I have better ammunition in dealing with questions about my ethnicity and weight.
But I think the test is worth taking. It’s a fun experience to find something new about yourself and something you are not aware of before. Lots of revelations, although don’t take it seriously.