Have you ever wondered where you come from? Ancestry DNA offered me the chance of reviewing their DNA testing service and finding out my geographical genetic make up.
When people used to take the piss out of me at school for having ginger hair I used to think at least I know where I come from from how I look. Imagining my ancestors to be fiery Celts or Ancient Britons, my red hair is a visible throwback to my British ancestors. Or so I thought. Would this ruin my romantic vision of myself?
The testing is really simple. Everything comes in a simple, small box and you spit saliva into a tube, up to a certain level, screw the top on to release a blue liquid into the sample, I guess to stabilise it, and then you put it into the pre-paid box and post.
It said it would take 6-8 weeks and I received regular e-mails updating me on the process and when I could expect it. I was fast-tracked because I was press and it wasn’t long before my results came through.
I was told I have quite a high percentage of Great British DNA in comparison to the average Brit. (See the chart left).
My results were 61% Great Britain - Northern England & the Midlands - this is correct as my paternal grandmother was born in Bury, Manchester. I was expecting more from the East of England as that’s where my surname is from.
Then finally, 1% Asia South. It circles India, so it could be a connection with the British Empire, but definitely not something I know directly about.
So, ultimately, I’m 99% from the United Kingdom. I’m a fucking pedigree! I jokingly told my friends I’ll be downloading the forms for Crufts for next year. Expect sponsored posts from Pedigree Chum coming soon!
But, seriously, none of this really matters, but it’s something interesting to think about and also opens up conversations within your family.
I sent Ancestry DNA a few further questions after my results had come through.
Can consumers ask further questions or is this another cost?
There should be enough information online, but there is a support team that can help with consumer questions free of charge.
How far does it go back?
What’s the margin for error?
AncestryDNA uses advanced scientific techniques to produce your results. We measure and analyse a person's entire genome at over 700,000 locations. During the testing process, each DNA sample is held to a quality standard of at least a 98% call rate. Any results that don't meet that standard may require a new DNA sample to be collected.
Then we compare your DNA to one of the most comprehensive and unique collections of DNA samples from people around the world, to identify overlap. As our database of DNA samples continues to grow, you could receive updates with new information.
Is my DNA stored somewhere now?
The results of your DNA test are stored in a secured database — your AncestryDNA results are stored in a secured database, which employs a number of security measures. As well as protecting the information from unauthorised access from those outside of AncestryDNA, we strictly limit access to this database from within the company as well.
The lab processing your DNA doesn't have access to your name, address and other contact information — DNA samples are tested in a secure third-party testing lab in the United States. We separate your name from your DNA sample throughout the testing process. Instead, we use a unique Activation Code provided in your kit to track your DNA through the testing process and in storage.
Your DNA sample is securely stored — After testing is complete, any remaining DNA from your test is archived and stored in a temperature-controlled, secure facility with 24-hour monitoring and limited access.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) — United States law (the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or “GINA”) generally makes it illegal for health insurance companies, group health plans, and most employers to discriminate against you based on your genetic information. Learn more about GINA here.
You have the choice to delete your DNA test results — Once a DNA test result is deleted, that choice is permanent. You will no longer see the results in your account. Also, your DNA matches will no longer see your username among their list of matches. So be sure you want to delete a DNA test result before you do it, as there is no way to recover the data after it’s deleted.
If you have given your consent to participate in ongoing research efforts and you delete your DNA results, your consent will be withdrawn and your information will not be used in future research. Please note, however, that information cannot be withdrawn from studies in progress, completed studies, or published results.
Your raw DNA data is secured by a number of security measures while in our possession. For example, your DNA sample is identified only by a bar code—even our testing laboratories don't have your identity. We also store all DNA data in encrypted databases to ensure restricted access, even within the company. These protections will remain for the copy of your raw DNA data that we possess but you will need to secure the raw DNA data if you choose to download it.
Will the ethnicity results tell what information is specific to my maternal or paternal line?
The type of DNA that is being tested looks at ethnicity across both maternal and paternal lines. It does not currently isolate ethnicity results to only your maternal or paternal line.
My results were pretty boring, but they are also believable and fit what I already know about my family. We’re still close to a time when people didn’t move around as much and these geographical areas match.
It costs £79, and I think it would make an interesting gift for somebody who is impossible to buy for. The 6-8 week wait is quite long.
Ancestry DNA obviously want you to sign up for the additional, paid-for features on their website and for you to link into other family trees and information. While the Americans are very much into their ancestry, the British are more confident about where they come from and are less interested in proving their origins.
AncestryDNA says it can estimate your origins to more than 350 ancestral regions around the world—5x more regions than the next leading test.
I enjoyed telling my family and, being from a working class background, it’s interesting how private previous generations were with regards to their origins and also where they came from. This is the time when people's birth certificates didn’t match the name they used on a daily basis.
Somebody has already contacted me from New Zealand saying we have a genetic match on my paternal grandmother, but I’m also slightly cautious receiving e-mails from people I don’t know.
Overall, this was efficient, fun and a correct insight. It reflects the #me culture we currently live in.
Ancestry DNA Kit - £79
Below - My results
Whether religious or not, Lent is that perfect time of year, and a decent length of time, to challenge yourself to give something up or try something different. I’ve been thinking of trying vegetarianism for a while now and while I could have easily done it, after Christmas, as a New Year’s resolution, it could've felt a bit like jumping off a cliff edge, after the indulgence of Christmas, and I wanted to give it a proper go.
Lent is perfect, being in the middle of February, you feel mentally prepared and can block off the next 6 weeks as you countdown to Easter.
Christians traditionally abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and with Vegetarianism and Veganism growing in popularity, it felt like the right time to give it a go.
A few of my friends are vegetarians, so I’m going to tap them up for recipes and advice. I’m going to put some Quorn in the fridge for those days I may need something meat-like. My main worries are getting bored and also feeling hungry quickly after meals. I also don’t want to pig out on carbs or turn to sweet things to fill me up. I think I’m going to have to be more organised with my meals and less lazy with the snacking.
If I lose loads of weight and feel like a bag of bones, I’ll think about stopping. But, the main driving force is, it’ll be healthier for me and for the environment, and I want to take more vegetarian options into my everyday and maybe find a few things that I will enjoy and carry on eating. I’ll keep you updated.
See Part Two - here