When Joshua Cohen realized at the age of 10 that he was conceived through a sperm donor and his father was not his biological father, he hid under his bed and cried. Cohen says, “I felt as if a part of my identity had suddenly come into question.”
For almost 30 years, Cohen was surprised that who was his biological father. “It was always the great secret of my life.” Everyone knew that the city where sperm donation came from – the donor was a medical resident in a hospital – and his mother had requested a Jewish donor.
During his 20’s and 30’s, Cohen discovered online for male doctors who had completed his stay in the city in the late 1970’s, where his mother donated sperm. He usually took people with Jewish nickname and tried to find their pictures online. “But none of them matched my face.”
In 2016, Cohen heard a story about a man like himself, who never knew his biological father and found it through 23andMe, a mail-order or direct-to-consumer DNA test. Cohen says, “That’s why I decided to do it.” “I spit in a tube, left it in the mail, and waited for my results.”
23andMe is one of at least two dozen companies that performs DNA tests in the market, you can give your own order to get information requested by a health care provider over a decade ago. Cohen’s trials gave him information about the risk of having some diseases; Estimated breakdown of their ethnic makeup; And – the part in which he was most interested – a social platform where he could connect with those people who might be related to him because they share DNA. Most major competitors – hereditary DNA, my heritage, National Geographic – offer one or more of those features.
In a few weeks, Cohen’s results were on the company’s website. They included an analysis of their DNA for genetic diversity or difference, which could increase their risk for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and breast cancers. Before the client can get their results, they should go through the educational modules to ensure they understand the information they receive.
Although Cohen had ordered a trial to find his biological father, he felt that the health part had troubled him.
They say, “I had my husband’s kit, first see the health section to see if there is something that I do not want to know. “I did not have any gene variants that he had tested at that time, so this was a great relief.”
Experts have warned that people should not be given much relief or should be very concerned about their health results in these one-size-fit-all tests. For example, testing for the risk of Parkinson’s does not look for more than 41 DNA variations associated with the disease. What is more, if Cohen’s DNA was different, then the risk of their disease would vary depending on their ethnicity, in which there are many things about their diversity and their lifestyle.
“Who knows how many people are living with the belief that they have some destructive genetic versions, when they are not actually,” says Brian Kirkpatrick, a licensed and certified genetic counsel in Crown, VA.
But, according to 23andMe, most customers can understand the information they receive. The company had to prove that the FDA should get the approval of the tests. “As part of the FDA review process, we conducted extensive user testing in a broad demographic – age, gender, education, ethnicity – and were able to show more than 90% understanding of the genetic concepts stated in our report,” One Company spokesperson.
Test for the risk of breast cancer, while there is a concern for men, it is also completely far away. Academic modules of 23andMe show that more than 1,000 variations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the likelihood of breast cancer. 23AndMe tests for those three variants, which are the most common among Ashkenazi Jews.
A positive test for one of three variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2 does not provide enough information, for example, to show whether you should start the mammogram first and do it more often. If you had a history of a strong family of breast cancer, for example, your doctor will order a more probable test which was seen for the genome version of your family.
If you are interested in your health information, especially if you have a strong family history of a certain illness, then a doctor or genetic counselor can point to the best test for you. If you have already done a test on your own, or have put a heart on trying it, then understand that health information is not diagnosed and provides limited risk information.
“This is the only first step in the process,” says Premetric. The results of these tests require confirmation. “To look after the doctor or genetic counselor, take the next step, spend extra and leave you in the limbo period, where you do not know for some time to be worried or not.”
Some test companies, such as Colors, Veritas, and Helix, try to bridge the gap between your doctor and the conventional way of ordering the test through direct approach. You choose the test online, and a doctor who works with the company physically orders that test.
“Because a physician is ordering the trial, it is not subject to the same FDA rules as are strictly direct-to-consumer tests,” says Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Robert Green, a medical geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. . “But this is not just a regulatory solution. In some cases, doctors raise smart questions about the history of your family and the specific test versus the suitability of a different test.” Companies which use doctors can test their tests Used as a tool to market, which patients can use for their care with their doctors.
Ethnicity from around the world
In addition to providing health information, some direct-to-consumer companies use the science to make their best guess of where your ancestors came from. They compare your DNA with “reference” DNA, which is known to people with a long history in a fixed location, such as Finland or Nigeria. Companies offering ethnicity testing provide charts that show that the percentage of your DNA is similar to those in areas around the world.
How did Cohen find out that the hospital did not honor his mother’s request for a Jewish donor. His test showed that he was only half Jewish She got that part from her mother. As the rest, he says, “I am about 20% British, 8% French and German, some Southern Europeans and about 4.5% Lebanese. Perhaps Lebanon is where my color came,” he said of his olive Says about
For Cohen, learning about their health and half of their genetic make-up meant a lot. “I was crossing my fingers that I do not know much, but it was very interesting.”
DNA Relatives You Never Knew
One of the most popular features of the Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test is the social media platform that connects people with relatives – other customers in the database who share the same DNA bits. On average, your siblings and parents share about 50% of your DNA. Half of the brothers and sisters, aunt, uncle, niece, and nephew share approximately 25%. The first cousins share approximately 12.5% of your DNA share. Fourth cousin share .2%. Service adopts adopters, donor-conceived children, and others who hope to find unknown relatives.
Hand trembling, Cohen continued to wait until he reviewed all other parts of his profile, then he clicked on his DNA relatives. “There was an anonymous person at the top of my list, and he said, ‘predicted the step sister.’
Because he was anonymous, Cohen had not imagined that he would never learn anything about him, but he took an opportunity and sent a message through the website. He told him some bits of information about his biological father and asked if he knows more. It was midnight till now. He closed his computer and went to bed.
“When I woke up, he had already written it,” he says.
Deb was an American living in the Middle East. Born and raised in the United States, she did not realize that her father (a doctor) had ever donated sperm, but she asked him and it was true. After sharing several emails with Cohen, Deb reported to him: His father was not interested in meeting him. “He said it was just a donation,” Cohen said. “She never expected to hear from anyone, and there were between three and 10 other people like me.”
Cohen had prepared himself for the occasion that the mail-order test should lead him to a father, who did not want to meet him. “I expected that and I expected that it looks terrible, but it was not really. Having a picture of her, knowing her name and having a relationship with [my step sister] felt a lot. ”
A few months later Deb flew to New York. Cohen, her husband and her 2-year-old daughter left for Manhattan from her home in Germantown to meet him. “As soon as he sat in the car, he began to cry,” Cohen remembers. “She said she does not expect me to look like her father.”
They spend the day together, know each other, know about them, whatever they have. “He told me, ‘You always wanted to be a brother.’
What do you know about raw data
Some direct-to-consumer genetic tests include access to your raw data – a downloadable document containing a long list of letters and numbers that represent your genetic code. You do not need to do anything with this document, but here’s what some people do:
- To find more relatives available in your testing company’s database, upload to third-party sites like GEDmatch and DNA.Land.
- To know what scientific research is about health-risks, upload it to third-party sites such as Primates, Exod life, and Genetic Genie, which can prevent your specific gene variants.
Before moving forward, understand some things:
- Sites that explain what your genetic makeup can mean for your health, it only gets your genes sent in the database of scientific literature. Analysis is only as good as the site’s most recent research update, and they are notorious for false positives.