Health Watch: New Year’s Resolutions, Reproduction and Rare Diseases

Like many people around the world, the health content team at 23andMe rang in 2012 with resolutions of staying healthy and it seemed fitting to delve into the genetics underlying response to diet and exercise, eating behavior and cholesterol levels. As we eased in to the new year, we segued into reproduction, updating our existing reports on male infertility and gestational diabetes, and we also recently added new genetic associations for tuberculosis susceptibility, Hodgkin lymphoma, and atopic dermatitis.

In the end of February we paid tribute to rare diseases by celebrating Rare Disease Day and putting out new reports for sarcoma and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) — rare cancers that we are particularly passionate about as evidenced by our innovative research efforts for these conditions.

Read more about some of our new and updated reports…

Tying genetics to diet and exercise
Does exercise help you lose weight or does it barely seem to make a difference? Have you ever wondered why some people who eat a lot of fatty foods don’t gain weight while others seem to pack on the pounds? Our Response to Exercise and Response to Diet reports may provide insight into the genetics underlying these complex topics that are already known to be strongly influenced by behavior and environment. Similarly, if you tend to reach for second helpings, our report on eating behavior may also shed some light!

Insight into your cholesterol
Have you ever wondered why your LDL cholesterol level is naturally low or why it seems to stay high despite your best efforts to lower it? Towards the end of January we added a new report for LDL cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol that is associated with heart disease — and updated our report on HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol that is considered protective against heart disease. These reports may offer some clues for you,  but it’s important to keep in mind that the genetic landscape of cholesterol levels is highly complex and that lifestyle also plays a big role.

Genetic findings on reproductive health in Asians!
Sexual reproduction is what keeps the human species going, but from getting pregnant to having a healthy child, it doesn’t always work like a well-oiled machine. Approximately 15% of couples experience difficulties getting pregnant and about half of these cases are due to male infertility. We’ve updated our Male Infertility report to include genetic variants that influence sperm count in Asian men. In February we also added new findings for Asian women to our report on gestational diabetes, a pregnancy complication with symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes that affects about 3-5% of pregnant women.

Revving up reports for rare diseases
In the United States, a disease is defined as “rare” if it affects fewer than 200,000 individuals, or roughly one in 1500. Sarcoma and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) fall into this category and in early March we added new reports for both of these rare cancers. Although these reports are considered “preliminary research” findings, mainly because they were generated with relatively small study groups, they are still exciting progress in research on these rare disorders.

23andMe customers can find more details on these and other conditions in their accounts. Not a member? Visit our store, or set up a free trial account to browse these and other reports.


  • Shil

    Keeping cholesterol levels in check is the key to a healthy heart.

Return to top