Here are some of our most frequently answered questions.
Questions about Genetics:
What is a genotype?
Genes are made up of DNA and are the basic units of heredity. A collection of genes in the genome becomes an organism’s genotype.
DNA is made up of the nucleotide bases adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).
As a member, in the genotype report sections, you will see your genotype for specific spots in a gene.
What is a genetic variant or SNP?
We all have differences in our genes – changes to the DNA that get passed down from our ancestors. This makes us all unique.
A genetic variant, or a SNP, is just a different nucleotide base in a specific spot on your DNA. Where the majority of the population has an A, your data may have a G.
Many genetic changes make no difference at all to how the gene works. However, researchers have discovered that some variants cause a gene to work slightly differently.
Genetic Lifehacks is all about explaining the small changes in gene function due to genet variants.
Are all SNPs important?
No. Just because you have a genetic variant, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it affects the function of your gene at all. That is why we need lots of genetic research to show which SNPs are actually important and which likely have no functional effect.
Can genes change over time?
Yes and no. But, for the most part, no.
Your nuclear DNA gets copied each time a cell replicates. An error can occur in the replication process, causing a mutation in the replicated cells. (Mutations in oncogenes are how cancer occurs.)
In general, though, your genes are what you were born with. If you do another DNA test a decade after the first test, it should show the same data.
While your DNA doesn’t change (much) since conception, see the epigenetics question below for information on how the genes are turned on or off.
What is epigenetics?
Epigenetics is the study of biological systems that cause genes to turn on and off. Biological systems affect how cells read genes and then ‘when or if’ proteins are made. Genes shouldn’t remain on all of the time. Regulation is important for certain signals to turn them either on or off.
Can I influence the way my genes turn on and off?
How you live your life is the biggest modifier to turning on and off your genes. What you eat, how you exercise, how you sleep, live, and interact with people all influence chemical changes in your body that influence how your cells translate the genes into proteins.
Can I modify my risk of certain diseases?
Absolutely! A healthy lifestyle and environmental changes affect and influence how your genes express (how they turn on and off). These changes can reduce disease risk if you are genetically predisposed. Everyone knows that they should eat healthy meals, be active, keep stress levels low, and avoid smoking for disease prevention. But there is more to the healthy living puzzle. We include a section called Lifehacks in each of our articles. These ‘hacks’ include practical, evidence-based solutions based on your genes. By including current health and genetics research, you can fine-tune your supplements or lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life.
What is an imputed genotype? Should I use my imputed data file?
Researchers have found that certain changes in a gene are usually inherited in segments. Thus, they can impute, or give a statistical guess, as to what your genotype is for other SNPs in a gene. Some of the imputation algorithms are pretty accurate – 98% or more. But that still leaves a 2% chance that the imputed genotype is incorrect. For researchers who are using large datasets of genotypes, the imputed accuracy is likely good enough for making research discoveries. However, for an individual looking for the unique reason why they have a health issue, that 2% chance that the imputed data is wrong could send you down the wrong path.
What does it mean when my genotype is – -?
There are a couple of reasons you might find dashes instead of your genotype. If you see dashed for all of the genotypes, then you likely aren’t connected to your raw data file. Be sure to unzip the downloaded data and connect to the .txt or .csv file – not the .zip.
If you are just seeing dashed in a few of the genotypes, it is likely that your raw data file doesn’t include the information for that specific rs id.
The genotype section in each article indicates whether it is available on 23andMe versions 4 or 5 or AncestryDNA v.2 data. Most of the SNPs listed for 23andMe v4 are also found in the v3 data.
What do the different version numbers for 23andMe mean?
For 23andMe, the version of the raw data file indicates when that version was in service. When a new version is released, the company changes some gene sequences. Therefore, each version has a different set of sequenced genes from the previous version.
23andMe v4 data ranges from 2014 to mid-2017
23andMe V5 data started in mid-2017 and is the present version.
I have data from more than one genetics provider. Can I use it?
If the raw data is in the .txt format used by 23andMe or AncestryDNA, it will work with the membership features. MyHeritage .csv files also work.
You can combine the two files if you have both AncestryDNA and 23andMe data. We have instructions on the process here. Alternatively, you can clear the connection to one file and then connect to another file.
Can I have multiple accounts with the same login?
For the Genetic Lifehacks membership, you will need separate email addresses for each account.
How do I cancel my monthly membership?
While we hate to see you go, it is easy to cancel your subscription. Just log in and go to the member’s account information page. Click on Subscription to manage or cancel your subscription.
Privacy and Ethics on Genetic Lifehacks
Why aren’t there any ads on Genetic Lifehacks?
Allowing ads on any website comes with an unwanted price to privacy: Ads track your data across the internet.
In the case of genetics-related articles, tracking what you read could reveal very private health concerns. The business side of collecting data is very profitable and ubiquitous, with just about every company online.
At Genetic Lifehacks, we didn’t want that for our readers. Thus, we are a member-funded website. No ads. No tracking across the web.
Additionally, we don’t use Google Analytics to track site statistics. Again, it is important to us that you are not tracked on Genetic Lifehacks.
Will you sell your member’s genetic data?
We can’t sell your genetic data because we don’t have it. Genetic Lifehacks membership is set up to connect to your data file on your computer or phone. Your data stays under your control.
The exception is that if you order a Top 5 Topics consultation report and cheat sheet, you’ll need to upload your genetic data. That data is then stored offline for a few weeks while completing your order and answering questions. Then your genetic data is deleted.
Genetic Lifehacks will never use your genetic data to sell you products. Most importantly, because genetic data is not stored, Genetic Lifehacks cannot sell your data as a company asset. (Yep, other genetic report companies consider your genetic data and personal information a company asset when selling out to big tech.)
How do I look up a SNP (rs id) on 23andMe?
23andMe allows you to browse your raw data from your account. Log in to your 23andMe account and click on your name in the upper right corner. In the dropdown, choose ‘Browse Raw Data’. After selecting the ‘Browse Raw Data’ option, you can type the SNP rs id information into the search bar. The information shown will include your genotype for that specific sequence. We also recommend that you download your raw data and store it safely.
Related article: How to log in to 23andMe and download raw data.
How do I look up a SNP (rs id) in AncestryDNA data?
You must download your raw data file from AncestryDNA before you can look up an SNP. Once downloaded and unzipped, it will be a text file. While you can search a text file for the specific data, it is easiest for future searches to go ahead and import it into an Excel file. Once in Excel, you can search your data using the Find command in Excel. Here are step by step directions on downloading your Ancestry.com raw data: How to log in and download your AncestryDNA raw data.
What do the different version numbers for 23andMe mean?
Next to each rs id in Genetic Lifehacks articles, you will see whether the information is available for 23andMe or AncestryDNA raw data in parentheses.
For 23andMe, the version of the raw data file indicates when that version was in service. When a new version is released, the company changes some gene sequences. Therefore, each version has a possibly different set of sequenced genes from the previous version. V4 data range from 2014 to mid-2017, and V5 data started in mid-2017 and is the present version. Most of the rs ids marked as V4 will also be available in V3 data.
Do you have an unanswered question about using your 23andMe data?
We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about 23andMe. Some examples include, ‘Which 23andMe kit should I buy?’ or ‘Can my 23andMe data tell me what to eat?’ You can find those answers and more about 23andMe here.
What is the best DNA test kit?
If you have decided to test your DNA, you may be overwhelmed by all of the choices available today. You can find our quick reference guide that compares the well-known companies that offer DNA testing here.