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Honest, FDA guys, my wife made me take that 23andMe test

November 25, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • The Food and Drug Administration has ordered genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits.
The Food and Drug Administration has ordered genetic test maker 23andMe… (Associated Press )

OK, FDA guys, when it comes to that 23andMe genetic test I recently took, I just want to make one thing absolutely clear: My wife made me do it!

It’s a story as old as Genesis, really. My little Eve offered me — well, not an apple but a simple saliva test. “Here,” she purred, “aren’t you curious. Who knows what it will show?” Meanwhile, I noticed later that my insurance papers were missing from the family safe. Oh Lord, where art thou?

Not that I am trying to blame her, mind you. She is a wonderful woman who has only my best interests at heart. I think.

Now, in case you missed the big news Monday (no, not that Iran nuclear deal stuff), the Food and Drug Administration has ordered 23andMe Inc. to stop marketing its $99 mail-order genetic test. Seems the FDA is concerned that some folks might actually, you know, believe the results. And then they might do something stupid, like perhaps have their breasts removed because their test showed they’re at risk for breast cancer. 

The FDA says the company doesn’t have the proper governmental clearance to market its kit. Nor, apparently, has it tried very hard to get said clearance. But it has cranked up new marketing campaigns for it.

Nice to know capitalism is alive and well in these here United States.

Personally, I’m glad the government is looking out for me. Then again, I’m not bothered much by nanny states. Probably because I grew up poor and didn’t have a nanny, so I’ve always had a bit of “nanny envy.”

Also, true confession, like most men, I was just going to ignore the 23andMe results. Unless, of course, they showed that I was somehow of superior intellect and/or fitness, which would allow me to be even more of a jerk than usual about such things. Or that I had a high genetic tolerance for junk-food consumption.

Also, I wasn’t really sure what the results were supposed to show anyway. Yes, my wife explained it to me. But the Alabama-LSU game was on at the same time, so I heard only every fifth word or so. I just spit in the little tube — after first enjoying some leftover Halloween candy, which I suppose might skew the results — and snapped it shut and handed it to her and she mailed it off. She said something about we’d hear back in a few weeks.

Now I don’t know where we stand. Our tests are at 23andMe headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The website says they’re being processed. (Well, my wife’s is; I can’t remember my user name or my password to sign on and find out about mine. Do you suppose my test will give me bad news about dementia?)

And the stories I’ve read don’t give me much guidance. The FDA says no more test kits, but does that mean no more test results? Am I grandfathered in? Do I want to be grandfathered in? Will I ever be a grandfather?

So many questions, so little time (at least, that’s what I figured my test was going to show: that I had a rare and fatal genetic disorder. Then again, I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac. Recently, my toes started to burn, and a quick Google search convinced me it was diabetes. A friend who’s a nurse had a different take: athlete’s foot.)

In the end, I’m going to do what I do really well: nothing. I’ll let the FDA and 23andMe sort this out. Probably my results will show up in a few weeks. My wife’s too.

Who knows, I might even look at them.

Unless there’s a game on.


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