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What your doctor isn’t telling you about ’23andMe’ and other genetic testing

DIY genetic tests can reveal valuable health insights but also some risks. Here’s what you need to know before navigating your own genome.

Alix, a working mother in Seattle, had been troubled by symptoms of chronic fatigue, repeated illness, and ‘stabbing’ pains in her abdomen since childhood (here are some possible medical reasons for such stomach pains). Over the years, multiple doctors running multiple tests were unable to find a cause, and often told her the problems must be in her head. Finally after especially bad stomach pains prompted a rush to the emergency room, Alix turned to 23andMe, a personal genetics company. She ordered a kit that involved collecting a saliva sample and sending it back to the company, which then provided a genetic analysis. The results indicated it was very likely that she suffered from lactose intolerance. After over 40 years of pain and confusion, Alix says her symptoms ‘all made sense.’ She changed her diet, and now feels so much better that it’s as if she has a ‘new body’ and is finally able to fully enjoy life with her family.

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