Jul 15, 2021 - Health + Traits

23andMe’s Traits of Summer

Two Friends Jumping Off Jetty At Lake Together

It’s summertime, you’ve got the beach chair, a trashy novel, and sunscreen, but do you have your 23andMe results? 


As we enter into the height of summer, we thought it might be worth revisiting a few of 23andMe’s trait reports that seem particularly relevant to the season.


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 might play in those moments. Here are a few insights you can glean from 23andMe’s trait reports.

Mosquito Bite Frequency

You’re not the only one getting out more during the summer, so are those pesky mosquitoes. And it turns out that, at least to mosquitos, we’re not equally enticing, and genetics may play a role. Mosquitoes are attracted to specific molecules in body odor and breath, and depending on the proportions of these molecules. Some of us are just more tasty to mosquitos than others.


 23andMe’s Mosquito Bite Frequency report can tell whether you’re more or less likely to get bitten by mosquitoes. We do this by creating a statistical model that includes 285 genetic variants we’ve identified that are associated with mosquito bite frequency and sensitivity. These associations were identified using data from more than 380,000 23andMe research participants. Then, using those genetic associations and other non-genetic factors, we estimate the likelihood of whether you get bitten by mosquitoes more or less often than others. 

Hair Photobleaching

Summertime often means a lot more time outdoors in the sun. For some, that added exposure tends to lighten their hair without going to their favorite hairstylist. 


23andMe Hair Photobleaching report looks at dozens of genetic variants that influence whether the sun will lighten your hair. About 86 percent of people of European ancestry reported that their hair lightens when exposed to the sun. The bleaching effect happens when high-energy ultraviolet rays from the sun break down the hair’s pigment molecules, altering its color. 


23andMe’s Hair Photobleaching report can tell you whether your hair is more or less likely to lighten due to sun exposure due to your genetics. Again, we can create a statistical model that includes 48 genetic variants associated with hair photobleaching. These associations were found by looking at data from more than 340,000 23andMe research participants of European descent. Using these associations and non-genetic factors, we estimate the likelihood of your hair lightening when exposed to the sun.


It is an oddity of nature that the sun lightens your hair but darkens some people’s skin. 


We’re not just talking about tanning. Sun exposure results in freckling in some people. This happens when the pigmentation in skin cells is produced unevenly across a person’s skin. If more pigmentation is produced in some areas than in others, you get freckles. Your genetics plays a role in your likelihood of getting freckles from sun exposure.


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. Those genetic associations were identified by looking at data from more than 150,000 23andMe research participants of European descent. We then created a statistical model that considered both genetic and non-genetic factors to estimate the likelihood of developing freckles.

Curious about your summer traits, check them out here.

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