Same-Sex Sexual Behavior Partially Influenced by Genetics

August 29, 2019 By 23andMe under 23andMe Research A new genome-wide association study (GWAS) involving more than 490,000 individuals, including 75,000 23andMe customers who consented to research, offers an intriguing glimpse into the complexity of sexual behavior. While the study found thousands of genetic variants with very, very small affects on same-sex sexual behavior, it did not find any “gay gene,” nor did the researchers expect to.  The study, “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” reveals some differences in the genetics of same-sex sexual behavior between men and women, for instance. It also shows that human sexuality is more nuanced than many believe. Rather, like personality and other complex human traits, a mix of genetic and environmental factors influences sexual behavior.  The researchers — in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia, —  did not find any patterns among genetic variants that could be used to meaningfully predict or identify a person’s sexual orientation or behavior.  “[M]any loci with individually small effects…additively contribute to individual differences in predisposition to same-sex sexual behavior,” they write, describing genetic patterns consistent with many personality, behavioral, and physical traits.  23andMe is just one of the many institutions involved in this international collaboration, which includes scientists of different disciplines and areas of expertise from some of the world’s top academic and research bodies. Because it’s a controversial topic, funding has historically been limited and recruitment of participants was difficult — many of the studies that […]

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23andMe Explores Dietary Habit and Health Outcomes

August 6, 2019 By 23andMe under 23andMe Research By Rafaela Bagur Quetglas, PhD You are what you eat, is the old adage, but what does your diet actually say about you?  23andMe has a unique opportunity to explore that question, as we investigate how dietary habits, along with genetics, demographics, lifestyle and other data can influence overall health outcomes. Looking at diet specifically, our scientists analyzed the data of more than 850,000 people who consented to participate in research and who shared details about their own eating habits.  Using machine learning techniques* we were able to see that dietary choices clustered into four distinct types of eaters, which were mainly characterized by two dietary behaviors. The first one represents the spectrum of foods’ nutrient content from high nutrient-dense foods (i.e. low caloric foods with high nutrient content like vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, beans or whole-grains) to low nutrient-dense foods (i.e. high caloric foods with low nutrient content like. processed foods, sweets, sodas, pastries, saturated fats or  fast food). The second main behavior differentiating diet groups is the meat intake, in particular, red and processed meat (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, ham, or cured bacon).   Dietary Types Using these two behaviors as axes, we can plot the four main diet groups:  On one end, we find people who eat high nutrient-dense (HND) foods like  vegetables, leafy greens and fruits and tend to avoid high caloric foods with low nutrient content like refined carbs, processed foods, saturated […]

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