I read an interesting blog post today about a woman and her wife deciding to have their DNA examined for their anniversary. They both had a general idea of their ancestry, but were also surprised by a few things. It’s a well-written post, definitely worth the time to read.
Some of the surprises included some pretty scary health issues, Alzheimer’s for one.
Using your DNA to learn about your ancestry seems to be becoming more and more common, or maybe I’m just more aware of people doing it. One of my co-workers did it not too long ago. He split the cost with his two sisters and provided the sample because apparently you can learn more from a male than a female. He didn’t mention learning anything about health conditions, but did mention a few ancestry surprises.
I do not claim to even begin to understand the science behind it. Science has never been my "thing". I’ve found it somewhat interesting when people have talked about it. I enjoyed the blog post, it was interesting hearing some of what my co-worker learned, and Nick and I once spent a very enjoyable evening listening to one of his aunts talk about their Native American heritage.
All of that being said, I’ve never really felt a need to discover my roots. Sure, there have been fleeting moments of thinking it might be interesting to learn about some of the less obvious parts of my heritage, but I don’t think that’s what makes me who I am. Maybe it factors in some, I’m not sure. Like I said, I don’t claim to understand the science at all. And honestly, it costs around $100.00. There are lots of other things I’m much more interested in spending $100.00 on.
Finding out about possible health issues was something I hadn’t really considered. If I’m being honest, it’s one thing that tips the scale in favor of not investigating my DNA. I understand that, to an extent, it makes a lot of sense to be aware of health issues that run in your family, and do what you can to help yourself. But to go out and look for possible issues seems a bit like asking for trouble to me.
I don’t think I want to know that my genes are somehow tainted. Take the Alzheimer’s for example. Three out of my four grandparents have or had it. The fourth died in a car accident at 56, so may well have had it too, had he lived long enough. This scares me. A lot. It scares me for my parents, and it scares me for myself. Any time my dad forgets to pass a message on to my mom there’s the icy voice of fear whispering in my ear that both of his parents more often than not don’t know where they are, what year it is, or what’s going on. Knowing that our genes are tainted, that’s it’s likely, would turn that whisper into a roar. And I’d wonder when those bad genes were going to get me. I don’t want that. Alzheimer’s currently isn’t preventable. I’d rather hope that maybe it’s not as hereditary as people think. I’d rather spend that time, energy, and yes, money, on something that isn’t going to keep me awake at night worrying.
Maybe I’m unreasonable, maybe I’m taking too narrow of a view on it, but I just don’t see the point in setting out to find out something that might really upset you, especially if it’s something you can’t really do anything about.
So of course I’m curious. Have you had your DNA examined? Would you consider it? Would you want to know about a scary disease?