I saw this last night in an e-mail from 23andMe – 23andMe’s Traits of Summer – July 2, 2019: https://blog.23andme.com/health-traits/23andmes-traits-of-summer/.
Some key points to consider. First, 23andMe has a habit of using a handful of markers out of the known markers. In at least one case, the number of markers used 2 out of a significantly higher number of known markers for a potentially deadly condition. Next, they often rely on statistical models to come up with predictions. That works great much of the time, but we have seen enough cases where something defies a statistical model turn out horribly wrong. If you have a 23andMe account, check out the Forums to see how often one of two scenarios play out – 1) people assuming they have a condition because 23andMe shows they have the markers for the condition – having the markers and actually having the condition are generally not cause and effect. 2) People posting they have condition X even though 23andMe indicates they don’t have the markers or the odds of them being at risk are low.
As we slip into another season of long sunny days and warm nights, a few of 23andMe’s trait reports might be particularly interesting for you this summer.
So if you’re warding off mosquitoes at your next BBQ, or catching a few rays at the beach, you might be curious what role your genetics plays in those moments. Here are a few insights you can glean from 23andMe’s trait reports.
Summertime often means a lot more time outdoors in the sun, and for some, that added exposure tends to lighten their hair. 23andMe Hair Photobleaching report looks at dozens of genetic variants influencing whether the sun will lighten your hair. For people of European ancestry, about 86 percent reported that their hair lightens when exposed to the sun.
It is an oddity of nature that the sun lightens your hair but darkens some people’s skin. The exposure results in freckling in some people when the pigmentation in skin cells, melanin, is produced unevenly across a person’s skin. If more pigmentation is produced in some areas than in others, you get freckles. 23andMe’s Freckles report looks at 34 genetic variants and other factors to tell you if you are more or less likely to get freckles.
Ice Cream Flavor Preference
Not that you need a reason to indulge in a frozen treat on a hot summer day, but if you’re looking for one 23andMe new Ice Cream Flavor Preference report will give you the scoop on what your genetics says about whether you’re more likely to choose vanilla ice cream or chocolate. The report relied on a statistical model and data more than a million 23andMe research participants to identify 739 genetic variants associated flavor preference. Sorry but there’s nothing in the report on whether you should put hot fudge on that ice cream.
Mosquito Bite Frequency
Along with all the sun and fun, summertime brings out the bugs. It turns out that, at least to mosquitos, we’re not equally enticing. 23andMe’s Mosquito Bite Frequency report can tell whether you’re more or less likely to get bitten by mosquitoes. Using data from about 400,000 23andMe research participants, we identified 285 genetic variants associated with mosquito bite frequency. The pesky insects are attracted to humans by specific molecules given off in body odor or breath. Depending on the mix of these molecules, some of us are just more attractive to mosquitoes than others.
Curious about your summer traits, check them out here.
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