8 Dec 2017
Apparently, I have at least 1,234 DNA relatives that the 23andMe testing company knows about. That’s based on a saliva sample I submitted to them. Granted most of these relatives are “distant” but they did find two second cousins and quite a few “second or third.” There’s a strong likelihood that there are even more out there since these are just the people who’ve submitted to 23andMe and I have to presume that’s only a very small fraction of the population.
I’m not all that surprised by the second cousins showing up. My dad had told me long ago that my fraternal grandfather had siblings but that he had disconnected from them, most likely after my grandmother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 34. My grandfather remarried soon after and then the family breakdown occurred. My grandfather had also shortened our name, but thankfully I knew the original and recognized it as I scrolled through the list of cousins who wished to identify themselves.
I haven’t reached out to anyone. I’m not sure I have any real desire to. At this point, they are strangers and I don’t feel any kind of familial pull. But I added my name to the list and we’ll see if one of the cousins contacts me. Most of my DNA relatives are in the California area. I have no idea why the migration occurred but I do hate the cold so maybe there’s some sort of genetic thing going on (joking… maybe). And one of my third cousins is Neil Young. Nope, not “the” Neil Young – bummer.
The numbers are interesting too. So while I share 50% of my DNA with my sons, I share 4.32% with one second cousin and 2.84% with another. There are a bunch of “second to fourth” cousins as well. We all share in the neighborhood of 1% of our DNA. I’m not a scientist and know nothing about genetics but have to guess that finding relatives could be important for people looking for organ transplants. I’m sure there’s other good that could come of it as well. I just hope no one wants to borrow money. Do any of them look like me? If they’re lucky, they don’t resemble my grandfather. Enough said.
There’s another other piece of the testing that I’ve taken my time here in getting to. I paid the premium with 23andMe and was also supplied with “wellness” and “genetic health risk” reports. I’m “likely” lactose intolerant. Who knew? I’m also less likely to be a deep sleeper. Yes, I did already know that. I was also relieved to not have the variants for certain diseases though, of course, there are still plenty of things not tested for. But beware of what you choose to learn about yourself. I held my breath as I opened some of the results and I would not have been at all prepared to handle certain findings if they had come up. So while it’s informative, don’t enter into this piece of the reporting lightly. And while all of this is supposed to be anonymous, potentially hacking could, at some point, also jeopardize people’s privacy.