Dec 5, 2022 - Health + Traits

A Gift of Knowing

23andMe is a gift as unique as those who receive it. It offers insights that are personal and often profound.

Throughout this holiday season, we’re highlighting a few people who shared  how the gift of 23andMe changed their lives.

For Christmas one year, Josh King received a 23andMe Health + Ancestry kit. Josh assumed his results would tell him a bit about his genealogy.

Josh King

“But I had no idea it would be pivotal to my personal health,” he said.

Hereditary hemochromatosis

After returning his sample to the lab and waiting a few weeks, he received an email that his reports were ready. Josh was surprised to learn he had two genetic variants that made him much more likely to develop something called hereditary hemochromatosis.*

Hemochromatosis is a genetic condition that can lead to iron overload. That can in turn cause damage to the joints, liver, pancreas, or heart, among other things.

It’s a genetic condition that can lead to iron overload, which in turn can cause damage to the joints, liver, pancreas, or heart, among other things. It’s most common in people of Northern European ancestry, and symptoms are usually diagnosed in males between the ages of 40 and 60. Josh was in his early 30s at the time.

A visit to the doctor

Accordingly, he went to see his doctor, shared with him his report. Confirmatory testing from his doctor showed that Josh indeed had iron overload. His doctor told him he had never diagnosed the condition in someone as young as Josh. Fortunately treatment is relatively straightforward, regular blood draws and reducing alcohol and iron-rich food in your diet.

“I have spoken with many people who are hesitant about genetic health data – they’re not sure they would want to know any negative news,” Josh said. “I gently suggest they get over it. Data is your friend. These genetic markers are not the indelible hand of fate. You might learn something that you can easily manage now and add years, or decades, to your life.” 

*The 23andMe PGS test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. The test is  not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment.The Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HFE?Related) genetic health risk report is indicated for reporting of the C282Y and H63D variants in the HFE gene and describes if a person has variants associated with an increased risk of developing iron overload related to hereditary hemochromatosis.  The variants included in this report are best studied in people of European descent.

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