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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Genetics of insomnia more similar to psychiatric conditions than to other sleep traits

February 25, 2019 By 23andMe under 23andMe Research   We’ve always known that getting enough sleep is important and can have a significant impact on one’s health, but scientists have just begun to unravel the genetics behind why some people are more prone to sleep problems. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults report short term problems, while about 10 percent report chronic insomnia. It’s also the second most common mental disorder. Recently, 23andMe collaborated with researchers from VU University Amsterdamand Netherlands Institute for Neuroscienceon one of the largest genome-wide analysis studies to identify genes associated with insomnia. Published in the journal Nature Genetics, the study used data from more than 1.3 million consenting research volunteers from the 23andMe database and the UK Biobank. “Our study shows that insomnia, like so many other neuropsychiatric disorders, is influenced by 100’s of genes, each of small effect,” said Guus Smit, a VU-University neurobiologist involved in the study. “These genes by themselves are not that interesting to look at. What counts is their combined effect on the risk of insomnia. We investigated that with a new method, which enabled us to identify specific types of brain cells, like the so-called medium spiny neurons.” Study Size The sheer size of this research cohort enabled us to ask questions about genetics of insomnia and its relationships with other conditions and sleep-related problems individuals may face. With this large dataset, researchers […]

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Diversity Matters in Research

By 23andMe on Fri, 01 Feb 2019 17:49:06 Africans and African Americans are among the most underrepresented populations in genetic health research, yet they face some of the most daunting health outcomes.   It’s a bitter irony of the current state of research that among those most in need are the least served by our ever-expanding genetic knowledge. Africans, African Americans, as well as Latinos, still make up less than four percent of individuals included in genome-wide association studies, according to a recent study. Genetic Diversity This despite the fact that Africans and people of African ancestry are more genetically diverse than all other populations in the world combined. This is because humans originated in Africa and have lived there continuously for more than 200,000 years, adapting to the varied climates and regions. The rest of the world was populated by small groups of people who first migrated out of Africa some 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. In genetics this is called the Founder Effect. Including people of African ancestry in genetic study will likely uncover unique genetic variation that help scientists better understand conditions that affect people of African ancestry, who thus far have not benefited from many of the breakthroughs in genetic science. Yielding Results 23andMe’s efforts to improve diversity in its research has yielded results. The most promising is that we now have one of the largest groups, if not the largest, group of African Americans who […]

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23andMe Receives FDA Clearance for Genetic Health Risk report that looks at a Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndrome

  By 23andMe on Tue, 22 Jan 2019 17:03:37   23andMe received FDA clearance to report on the two most common genetic variants influencing what is called MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP), a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome.This new clearance is part of… The post 23andMe Receives FDA Clearance for Genetic Health Risk report that looks at a Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndrome appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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