Mail away DNA

Updated: Monday, November 25 2013, 11:17 PM CST
Mail away DNA story image
The food and drug administration has ordered DNA testing company, 23 and me, to stop selling  its over-the- counter DNA test kit.
They say the tests are being marketed illegally to diagnose diseases and there's no proof they're  accurate.

It's the same kit we used in our story, "Mail Away DNA." As Channel 3's Kathryn Daniel reports, these tests are gaining popularity since they can help determine health risks and even trace family history.

A few years back, morning anchor, Jared Willets, was hit with a tough diagnosis.

"For the great majority of my life, I've been perfectly healthy and then one day at 57, you know, I was told, you have a really nasty prostate cancer.  Where did that come from?"

Within months, both of his brothers would face the same aggressive cancer.

"Well gee, what other genetic surprises might there be down the line?"

Enter the 23 and me "spit kit." After making the necessary deposit, Jared mails it away.
In about a month, Jared's genetic map will return, 240 health conditions and traits identified, which diseases he's at risk for, and not.
Jared knows very little about his family medical history, and is looking for answers, albeit lightheartedly.

"And things I can blame on my genes you see.  Honey, it's my genes."

A month later, Jared's results are in via e-mail.
Wellness expert, Doctor Kenneth Mitchell, goes over the report. One section is locked, that one contains Jareds' risk for four conditions.

Dr. Kenneth mitchell/wellness expert; "One is for breast cancer, one is for Alzheimer's, one is for Parkinson's and the other is a rare neurological condition for which there is no cure."
Jared can unlock the info if he wants too. He admits to getting a little worried.

"For a second I did, whats up with this?"
The news is good, Jared is at less than average risk for all four conditions.

"I was really concerned honestly about the Alzheimer's thing.  My dad was kind of in and out of it toward the end there."

He was also interested to learn about his risk for pancreatic cancer. More good news, it's very low.

"My sister had it and they don't know why, so I felt good about that."

The test shows Jared has a high risk for prostate cancer, a condition he's already beaten, and for lung and stomach cancer.
Doctor Mitchell says knowing that, Jared should get a yearly chest x-ray and pay close attention for prolonged bouts of digestive trouble.
Mitchell says he thinks that in the next decade or two, newborns will leave the hospital with similar DNA Information.

"Here is the blueprint of your child, here are the things that you need to look for an watch for."

Which will lead to more tailored screenings.

"A lot of the testing will be targeted based on risk.  I think your surveillance for the various cancers is gonna be based on whether you have the gene for that."

Jared says if he had known sooner, he would've been more vigilant about prostate screenings. But now he can arm his 22-year-old son with that knowledge so he can begin checking earlier in his life.
There were a few surprises in the results.

"I think what struck me the most is how much neanderthal is coursing through my veins."

Three-point-seven percent cave man to be exact, much higher than the average human.
Jared has some famous distant relations: Stephen Colbert  and everyone's favorite Parrot Head, Jimmy Buffet.
"At a concert, Jimmy, Jimmy, it's Cousin Jared, 800 times removed."
Jared's DNA strands indicate longevity, Mitchell says he should live well into old age pretty healthily.

"A little bit of a lark and a little bit of science and it was kinda fun."

Kathryn Daniel, Channel Three News.

Mail away DNA
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