Genetics tests -- Any worth at all to them?

(Bob M) #1

I’ve reached the conclusion that genetics tests are useless, at least for me. They seem to be nothing but correlations.

For instance, I gained 20+ pounds eating a high saturated fat diet. So I had a genetics test done, which would supposedly tell me if I was susceptible to gaining weight on a high saturated fat diet. The result? I did not have that set of genes. But I still gained a ton of weight, so those genes are suspect.

Then, from the same company, they tell me that I am not more likely (edit: I’m less likely) to get bitten by mosquitos according to genetics. Bwahaaaahhaaahhaa! I am the very first person bitten. When to St. Croix some 10+ years ago, came back covered in mosquito bites. No one else had any or had very few.

Uploaded my data to another, supposedly much more comprehensive place, which even does recommendations for vitamins and minerals. I get the “free” version, which only allows a few complete reports. One report says I am likely to be more anxious than 98% of people. This is completely wrong. While I do get anxious at times like public speaking, in general, I am – and always have been – basically not anxious. Decided I was going to go in the Navy when I was 17, and went. No second thoughts, no anxiety. Decided I was going to move to Arizona after the Navy (was living in California), no anxiety about this at all. Just did it. Decided I was going to move from Arizona to New England without knowing anyone. Just did it.

Then there’s the whole MTHFR gene. Here’s 23 and Me’s position on it:

If what they are is a bunch of correlations, is there any benefit to them?

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #2

Genetics are a lot less determinative, apparently, than we’ve been led to believe. I suspect they simplified the picture for us in high school (and of course the picture was a lot simpler coughfiftycough years ago, lol!).

As a rat owner, I was confused by some of the genetic concepts bandied about by rat owners, so I bought a copy of Genetics for Dummies, to see what I could learn in general terms. One of the big differences in how genetics is viewed these days is the distinction between genotype and phenotype, which can vary greatly. It’s not as simple as the picture of dominant and recessive genes that I was taught all those years ago. There is a lot of variability in how a gene gets expressed to begin with, and then there are epigenetic effects that inhibit or enhance how genes get expressed over time. Epigenetics is another idea that is new since I was in school.

I guess the way to sum it up is that the gist of what I understand Thomas Seyfried to be saying is that genetic predispositions to cancer are not going to determine whether people get cancer or not, all cancers are caused by metabolic damage to cells. So eating right (epigenetics) can help keep our cancer risk at a minimum, despite our genetics. And so forth for many other issues.

But one further complication is that epigenetic effects in the parents can affect their children and grandchildren. This sounds an awful lot like Lamarckian inheritance, which had been thoroughly discredited in the 1970’s. (Sort of like how the Higgs field is awfully reminiscent of the luminiferous aether, or how they are trying to bring leeches back as a serious medical treatment.) So how our genes get expressed depends not only on our own behaviour, but on the behaviour of our ancestors. Yikes!


Ahhhh… you have ratties? I absolutely adore rats. Haven’t had any for a few years now, but I’m considering it again as I really miss them.

(This is where you tell me you breed them to feed to your snake xD)

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #4

Oh, no, no, no, no, no! :scream:

Though I did know a few people who started out that way and fell in love with their ratties!

Alas, my last rat had to be put to sleep a while ago (she was such a sweetheart), and my circumstances don’t allow me to adopt any new ones just now.

Rats are such beautiful, sweet creatures. :rat::rat:


Phew :sweat_smile:

They really are the sweetest things ever :heart:

People always seem alarmed that I ever kept rats alongside cats, but cats learn VERY quickly that them ratties are no pushover xD They always end up being buds, though naturally I don’t take any chances and would never leave them together unsupervised.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #6


Sorry, Bob, we shouldn’t be hijacking your thread like this! :pray:


Oooops. Good point. Sorry! I often forget where I’m posting and just go off on one… probably in my genes :rofl:


I know little about genetics but rats are lovely! :smiley:
I couldn’t ever find a place to get some from and I would need to make a home for them first anyway… And we have 3 cats… But it would be lovely to have some rats one day :slight_smile:
I only had a mouse once, it wasn’t that interesting as 2-3 rats would be (girls as boys are lazy, I’ve heard. girls are prettier anyway).

Oh, that’s nice to hear… Our cats are big hunters but they don’t hunt bigger animals (unlike a cat I knew, she was a smallish house cat and caught the biggest rats). Pie (it’s the youngest cat, full name is Snugglepie) wasn’t interested in a guest guinea pig (she is a tiny girl, the piggie) but poor thing (the piggie) got shocked when Pie went near to her…
My cats can’t even stand each other, by the way.

(Bob M) #9

If you search, there are quite a few discussions of rats, or at least that’s what I remember. They are sprinkled everywhere, though.

I was thinking genetics could be helpful for something like dairy. As far as I can tell, I have zero issues with dairy. Yet others say it causes them a large amount of inflammation, and many others have to avoid dairy.

I would think (hope?) that genetics could decipher this. Maybe not for all cases, but many. But 23andme is useless for this.

Even my extremely high Lp(a), which is genetic. The companies should be all over this, yet at least 23 and me is not. I have to manually find the snips.

(Joey) #10

Loving the rat chat. Back to genes for a moment…

I’ve been given DNA test kits as holiday gifts (weird family?) and have passed them along to others. Reading the fine print terms of what you are agreeing to before submitting your DNA would be wise. Those terms are unacceptable to me.

Moreover, I suspect much of the results provided would be useless. Of course, if you’re into questionable medical info and racial/national identity politics, go for it.

Personally, how much of a half-breed I am matters not a whit (and for actionable medical info, I’ll go for real tests). :vulcan_salute:

(Horoscopes, anyone?)

(Bob M) #11

Well, we haven’t gotten into ancestry, which I did not care about originally. But, when I saw that I was zero percent Italian, and I knew my Dad’s family came from Italy (they all lived in the same house, all spoke Italian), I got curious. I learned:

  • I have a half sister I believe to be the offspring of my “dad” and my mother
  • I am not related to my “dad”
  • My brother is not related to my “dad”
  • My brother and I are half brothers (only related to each other via my mother)

My brother is currently meeting our half sister.

(Robin) #12

Crazy connections and revelations these days.


I think they’re good in the sense to see what you’re likely to be more susceptible too, but like we know, genes are turned on/off by many factors, so for true answers I like actual labs tests that tell us what we’re actually dealing with in real time.

I think that MTHFR is the most overblown one of all, ok, so maybe we don’t methylate perfectly… so? How much do I? Maybe I have the gene but I’m still at 90% and it makes no difference? I think more bioavialble forms of minerals and vitamins are good either way, since we are supplementing them and want them to work as good as possible, but WOW do people make such a big deal over it.

You should see the never ending comedy over on /r/supplements on Magnesium, the nitpicking of the form and then the amount of elemental magnesium in each one and never endind studies… damn Magnesium! It’s called supplement a good form or a blend and STFU about it! People like to complicate simple.

(Joey) #14

Wow, that’s a lot of family complexity to digest! Are these revelations you’ve noted above - all of which seem contrary to what you were told - confirmed by reliable family sources?

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #15

Good points overall, but confirmed or not, if the Y chromosomes don’t match, there’s no way the guy can be your dad. Maternal matches are best confirmed with mitochondrial DNA. Brian Sykes did a couple of books on all this, The Seven Daughters of Eve and Adam’s Curse. Fascinating reading.

(Rebecca ) #16

I recommend a Bioavailable B Complex to most of my customers…not to be overdramatic, just because I know it is a useful form.

(Rebecca ) #17

The only genetic test I have ever had is the BRCA gene test. We (Mother, Sister and I ) are all positive and have all had it. Gratefully, we’re all still alive and well!

(Bob M) #18

Everybody has passed. My mother, my “dad”, in particular. His family would be of no use, as they thought we (my brother and I) would be his children, as did (I believe) my dad. I think he paid child support for two children who weren’t his.

My mother came from a family that ended up having 18 children, many of which were taken by the state. The dad – my grandfather – was an alcoholic, abusive coal miner. He kicked alcohol, and cigarettes, over time, but by that time, the damage was done.

A few of them are alive and I can find them, but honestly, there’s not much reason for me to contact anyone. I thought briefly about attempting to find out who my father really was, as I have a first cousin via genetics, but there’s really no reason to do so. It’s in the past, and almost 60 years so. Not a lot of reason to go looking.

If you look at my dad’s family, you can determine who his mother was and her sisters and brothers were. You can then determine the children they had, and even the grandchildren, and a few of these are in the 23 and Me database. They are all on my half-sister’s genetics, but none of these are on either my or my brother’s genetics. She’s also listed as a certain percentage of Italian, and neither I nor my brother have any Italian lineage.

When you start searching backwards through ancestry, you don’t know what you’re going to get. My dad was born out of wedlock, and we don’t know who his dad is. But my “grandmother” (my dad’s mother) should be 100% Italian, as both her parents came from Italy. So, my dad should be 50% or so Italian, which means if either me or my brother were his, we should have some Italian in us, but we don’t. Zero.

Note: Even our half-sister, who we believe is offspring of my mother + my “dad”, is a lower percentage of “Italian”, for reasons I’m not sure about. But she has a high enough level of Italian that she has some relationship to my dad, whereas my brother and I are zero percent Italian.

(Joey) #19

@ctviggen Remarkable family history. Like most families, you’ve got the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly all rolled together. Package deal.

At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, I’m not sure there’s really an “Italian” gene. Needless to say, Italian is a nationality, not a genetic condition.

Having said that, going back in history, the Romans did a lot of cross-pollinating throughout what today is known as Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. How much of that was forced upon the local women as opposed to arising from romance (note: etymology) is hard to know and unpleasant to ponder.

I guess what I’m saying is that the “Italian gene” that 23&Me reports is likely a deep blend of many other genotypes - reflecting combinations of many different modern day “nationalities.” Who knows what “zero” Italian might actually mean - as compared with some non-zero level of “Italian” - in terms of ancestry?

Just musing aloud.

(Bob M) #20

There’s definitely something “up” with “Italian”, as according to my half-sister, they keep changing her level of “Italian-ness”. That is, the percentage of “Italian” she’s supposed to be.

But, my brother and I are still zero.

And I’ve done enough research into the ancestry on my mom’s side to know that my estimated genetics seems correct. For instance, they’ve estimated I’m 71 % Eastern European, and I know my great-grandparents came from there. They were all “Polish” on that side of the family. (My grandmother - edit, great-grandmother, not grandmother - came from Czechoslovakia, so I’m not sure why we called everyone “Polish”, but there you go.) Similarly, my grand-dad’s parents were from a location (can’t remember now what it was), and that’s also in my genetics. Was told by my grandparents one of their relatives was from the UK, and that’s there too.

Now, my real “dad” had to factor in here, as my brother (with yet another “dad”) is much less Eastern European according to his test. But since neither one of us know who those people are, we can’t research.

And the area (Pittsburgh, PA) and surrounding area has a lot of Italian and Polish immigrants. So, my genetics fits it with the area’s genetics, too (though the entire area is much more diverse then just these two sets of immigrants).