From Watershed DNA: A Brief Note About Diabetes Risk Report From 23andMe

We have written in the past about updates from 23andMe and what their risk reports can tell you about your Colorectal Cancer Risk and Breast Cancer Risk – but we thought Brianne from Watershed DNA did such a good analysis on 23andMe and their new Diabetes Risk Report that we’ll re-share hers! 

You can find out more about Watershed DNA here.

– Grey Genetics

23andMe released a new health report this week, and it’s quite a bit different from the other types of reports they’ve released in the past.

Most conditions that affect people (like type 2 diabetes) are complex in origin, meaning that even if it’s “genetic,” it’s not necessarily easily-tested by DNA. This is due to reasons such as polygenic factors being influenced by environmental factors (diet, smoking, exercise, etc.). Polygenic refers to the fact that there can be dozens – if not hundreds or THOUSANDS – of genetic factors involved, each one having only a tiny impact on overall risk.

This is what you’ll eventually see if you keep scrolling down your 23andMe report, and it’s important to read and understand these things before you take anything away from your diabetes risk as reported by 23andMe. It’s important to know what a DNA test can’t tell you, as much as what it can.

Here’s the list of limitations you’ll see if you keep scrolling down your 23andMe report.


Interested in reading more about this topic? This article in MIT Technology Review brings some good points to the table. This article on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy’s wiki gives a good introduction to polygenic risks scores. If you are looking for a licensed and certified genetic counselor’s help in understanding your report, reach out or schedule with me. I’ll be happy to go through it and answer your questions!

Do you meet genetic testing criteria for hereditary breast cancer risk?