Tag Archives: genetic testing

My DNA Has a Story to Tell, So I Gave it a Pen and Paper

I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m a hundred percent that health nerd who’s definitely gonna blog about it… 

Thanks to a serendipitous sequence of events, I procured two DNA test kits right around the time I began the PREDICT 2 study in early September 2019. Genetic factors are an important piece of the personalized wellness puzzle. What will my DNA test say about me?

The test kits come from a company called Pathway Genomics, and the two DNA analyses I submitted were “PathwayFIT” and “CannabisDNA.” I’ll talk about CannabisDNA in another blog post, but PathwayFIT provides a personalized genetic report about what my DNA says about my unique diet, nutrition, and exercise needs and tendencies as well as addictive behaviors and weight-related health conditions. 

My plan is to compare the results of this PathwayFIT DNA test with the results of the PREDICT 2 study, which will provide a similar report based on my blood glucose and blood lipid responses to food as well as a microbiome analysis (at a later time). As a reminder, I did provide a DNA sample for the PREDICT 2 study, but at this time, DNA analysis is not part of the report I’ll receive from them. The comparison between PathwayFIT and PREDICT 2 will potentially be extremely insightful, but just to clarify, there are a lot of factors that affect the content of these types of health response reports, and we should keep this in mind while drawing insights from the comparison.

Pathway Genomics cites research estimating that genetics is responsible for 40 to 70 percent of an individual’s predisposition for obesity. Whether someone taking the PathwayFIT test is wanting to lose weight or maintain weight, Pathway Genomics claims that the information provided in the report may help someone “modify” their behavior. In the report, they recommend that an individual talk to their primary care doctor before making changes as a result of the content of the report.

The tests included mailing a simple cheek swab to a lab for analysis. It went like this:

  1. I registered the kit online, creating a profile on Pathway.com.
  2. There are two cheek swabs per test kit, so I filled out two labels and placed each one on a collection tube.
  3. I swabbed the inside of my right cheek for one tube and the inside of my left cheek for the second tube. The test instructions recommended swabbing with the “same force you use to brush your teeth.” I brushed up and down while rolling the swab for at least one minute per cheek/tube. After the minute was up, I was careful to insert the swab into the collection tube without touching any other surfaces to prevent contamination. 
  4. After that, I placed the tubes in the prepared bag for mailing, and I dropped it off in a post box later that day. 

I sent in my samples on September 6, and I received an email 5 days later confirming the receipt of the samples:

Once my results are ready, I will be able to log in to my account on Pathway.com and view my results on an interactive dashboard optimized for a computer, smart phone, and tablet. I couldn’t find any information on the website about how long it will take to receive a report with my results, but here is what I’m expecting to find out: 

  • Diet & Eating Behaviors
    • Diet Type
    • Satiety (feeling full)
    • Food desire
  • Nutrients
    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin B2
    • Vitamin B6
  • Food reactions
    • Caffeine Metabolism
    • Response to polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids)
    • Response to monounsaturated fats
  • Health predispositions
    • Obesity
    • Metabolism
    • Weight loss-regain
  • Exercise & fitness
    • Muscle power
    • Endurance training
    • HDL (good) cholesterol response to exercise
  • Diet Guidelines

Here’s a link to a sample report. It’s pretty conclusive so it’s a long report, but SUPER interesting for a health nerd like me. Pathway Genomics uses a “scientific strength” four-star rating system to express the “strength of the research evidence for the genetic marker and the associated result.” The more stars, the more confident one could feel about the volume of research supporting a given finding or claim. The less stars, the more cautious one should feel about a statement.

If you’re interested, there are different kinds of DNA collection kits you can order from Pathway Genomics (not promoting a product here, just an FYI):

  • PathwayFIT (this is the kit I submitted)
  • Sport iQ
  • Skin iQ
  • Nutrition iQ
  • FIT iQ
  • SkinFIT

Pathway Genomics heavily advertises their various accreditations:

  • College of American Pathologists (CAP)
  • U.S. Health and Human Services’ Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)
  • California Department of Public Health

And leading institutions that have provided input in the development of the test:

  • UC Berkeley
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Scripps Clinic
  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • University of Copenhagen

I’ll be writing again once I receive my results and have time to analyze the report and make comparisons with the PREDICT 2 results. Stay tuned!