23andMe, a popular genetic service that offers information on health and ancestry based on DNA, is raising awareness of celiac disease and helping people discover whether they have a genetic health risk for the disease.
Celiac disease is hereditary, and people with a first degree relative with celiac disease have a one in 10 chance of developing it. However, the disease is often difficult to diagnose and many people receive a misdiagnosis and struggle with symptoms for years without knowing the cause.
But last year, 23andMe started offering a genetic health risk report on celiac disease that looks at two genetic variants, rs2187668 and rs7454108. According to their website, “People with one or both of these two haplotypes account for about 95 percent of all celiac disease cases, so if you have celiac disease, it’s likely you have one of these variants.”
However, if you have a 23andMe test and it shows one of the variants, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop celiac disease. According to 23andMe, 15 to 30 percent of people have one of the genetic variants that puts them at risk for the disease, but only about 3 percent of them will develop celiac disease. But if you don’t have one of the variants, it’s “very unlikely” that you will develop the disease. According to the website:
“But knowing you have one of these variants can be important especially for those who believe they have symptoms or additional risk factors. If they learn they have at least one of the risk variants, the report could help them follow-up with a doctor, who may recommend more rigorous screening. For most people with celiac disease, the most effective treatment is adhering to a completely gluten-free diet; this can help alleviate symptoms and allow the small intestine to heal.”
Currently, the test does not look at gluten sensitivity or any other food allergies.
Taking the 23andMe test is pretty simple and can all be done from the comfort of home. The company mails a kit to your home, you provide a saliva sample and mail it back to their lab. Results are ready in 6 to 8 weeks. 23andMe includes reports that meet FDA standards for clinical and scientific validity.
In addition to learning whether you have a predisposition for celiac disease, the health and ancestry report can tell you other things about your genetics, from risk of Alzheimer’s disease to genetic ability to match pitch or prefer sweet food over salty.
Recenty, 23andMe added a blog post about raising awareness for celiac disease, sharing the story of their customer Charlie, who spent years with undiagnosed celiac.
23andMe currently has a holiday sale for 30 percent off kits that ends December 25. To order a kit for yourself or for a holiday gift, click here.