A Personal Comment About 23andMe’s Announcement of a New Genetic DNA Report on Diabetes

NOTE: I earlier published “23andMe is Looking to Expand to Millions More Users with a New Genetic DNA Report on Diabetes.” The article is available at: http://bit.ly/2UwqYjV. Several newsletter readers asked questions about the new announcement. I decided to post my comments here in the newsletter in case others have similar questions.

I also have some personal comments.

All I know about the new diabetes reports is what is in the announcement from 23andMe, as published at https://blog.23andme.com/health-traits/type-2-diabetes.

The report does say, “This new report will impact …” I interpret the word “will” to mean it isn’t available today but will become available soon. Also, the same article states: “To learn more about the science behind 23andMe’s new Type 2 Diabetes report see our white paper” (which is available at: https://permalinks.23andme.com/pdf/23_19-Type2Diabetes_March2019.pdf).

Personal Comments:

I am especially interested in this new report because (1.) I am a 23andMe customer who has received earlier medical reports from the company and (2.) I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic 11 years ago.

Over the next few years, my diabetes became worse and worse. At one time, I was giving myself 2 different kinds of insulin shots every day plus 7 different prescription pills every day plus some over-the-counter medications. My bathroom’s medicine cabinet looked like a drug store! I was paying more than $500 a month as my co-pay for the medications while my insurance company paid a lot more than that.

One of the insulin injections cost more than $800 a month total. My insurance company paid about $500 of that charge but my co-pay for that one medicine alone was $340 a month. Then there were co-pays on the other 8 prescriptions, including a second kind of injectable insulin that cost me a co-pay about $120 a month. The various pills were cheaper, with co-pays varying for $5 a month to $20 a month each.

However, I recently enrolled in a medically-supervised program that has driven my diabetes into remission and I no longer give myself any insulin shots and a couple of weeks ago I stopped taking the last of my prescription pills. Since giving up all the prescriptions, I have lost an additional 10 pounds. In the past 5 years, (starting long before the present medically-supervised program), I have lost 34 pounds due to my diets. I expect to lose more. Best of all, I never go hungry!

I feel great and have more energy than I have had in years, along with no obnoxious side effects from all the drugs. I could write a book about side effects of prescription drugs. Life without drugs is great!


The family history problems

Diabetes is commonly found in both sides of my family tree. My father was a diabetic and my older sister also is a diabetic. So were one of my grandparents, one of my great-grandmothers, several of my aunts, uncles, and a number of my cousins. Obviously, in our cases, diabetes was caused by a poor choice of ancestors!

Therefore, I am very interested in the genetics involved and have already coached my daughter and several of my nieces and nephews about avoiding diabetes. (Science has recently proven that Type 2 Diabetes is usually avoidable, even if your ancestors were diabetic!)

Future Plans

I will be watching the story of 23andMe and any other company’s reports on inherited diabetes closely and probably will write about any such news in this newsletter whenever it becomes available.

Once I have completed the present medically-supervised program and if I feel the results are worth sharing, I probably will write an article about inherited tendencies towards diabetes and the solution I found to force diabetes into remission. Please note that I am saying “remission,” not cured. The article will not be written from a medical expert’s view as I certainly am not qualified to give medical advice. Instead, I plan to only describe my success with the program.

I cannot tell if the same program works for everyone or not. I can only describe one person’s results, that of my own. I can describe my own experiences and probably will encourage you to find your own solution(s), which might be different from mine.

For a “normal” article about diabetes or any other medical subject, I probably would not write about it in a genealogy newsletter. However, for INHERITED medical issues, especially issues that I am intimately familiar with, you can expect to find such articles in this genealogy newsletter.

For most people, even those of us with inherited tendencies, Type 2 diabetes appears to be avoidable!


The 23andMe blog was confusing as to timing. But I checked my account, my wife’s account, and my son’s account today. All three of us have the new Type 2 Diabetes report already. Interesting!


Thank you for this article. My husband’s family has many diabetics on both sides so we are trying to keep him diabetes free. I look forward to anything else you write concerning diabetes. Thanks!


It’s so wonderful to hear about your remission, and that you no longer need to take all those medications, Dick. It sounds as if it was particularly difficult –and extremely expensive– to keep your diabetes under control before you took part in the medically supervised study. The “brick walls” we face are not always genealogical; we’re looking forward to hearing more about your journey to better health.


Congratulations on your recent successes with your health…as a potential Diabetes 2 patient…I’m overweight…would love to hear what you’ve done, and what you wish you’d known or done when first diagnosed. You life with all those injections sounds like a heck of a way to live, and I’m so glad that appears to be very much in the past for you.


Very interesting article here, Dick. Thanks for sharing your experience. I too have lived with type 2 and figured it came – in some way – from my Mother, but I now have stopped all medication (never needed insulin) and am doing much better. I don’t really think that I ever actually had it but 30 years ago, things were diagnosed differently for sure.
Keep us posted on how it goes and congratulations on getting your health back.


Hi Dick, I was diagnosed as type II six years ago. I have never needed insulin but the a1c creeps up little by little. I will have another check in May and hope the diabetes is still under control. Congratulations on your own success. I will be interested in hearing more.


Very well done on getting off the meds.
Diagnosed with type 2 30 years ago, I have been able to (narrowly) avoid insulin, just take many tablets. At a checkup today I discover that my blood sugar is at a 10 year low. So I can start eliminating some of the pills.

18 months ago I was told I could not avoid insulin.

Key to this has been a massive diet change over the last year. Supporting my wife by joining her in a medically recommended and supervised health diet as part of a program she was in has caused massive changes in what and how we eat and given me a new direction in controlling the disease.


    —> Key to this has been a massive diet change over the last year.

    That appears to be the “secret.” Actually, it is not a secret at all. Diet control has long been known to be far better than drugs for all sorts of medical problems. However, most of us seem to expect the doctors to always give us drugs to cure any medical problem. In many cases, taking drugs only masks the problem(s), never fixing the underlying causes.

    I am not a medial expert but even I recognize that drugs are not a cure-all for everything.


Thank you for your article. My father was diagnosed as diabetic in the 1920’s so we lived a very food controlled life when I was growing up (he died at 63 – surviving far longer than most) and at 89 I’ve had no indication of it. My wife’s father was a Type II, but neither of our children had it – although they both died young so who know if they might have gotten it (they had a very food controlled life, too). My dad was also on two different insulins but they sure didn’t cost that much.


Lu Vaccaro-Bailey March 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

I am a diabetic. That said 23 and me is not the dna test for me. I feel it has too many intrusive questions that I don’t want the answers out there.


Congratulations Dick for conquering a big problem for many of us. I’m a retired physician who did not treat diabetics in my career. However, as a senior medical student 50 years ago, I was taught that the majority of those patients with type II diabetes that I helped care for could be essentially cured by life style changes: healthy diet with weight reduction and exercise. Thank you for underscoring this principle with your own success.


Way to go! Would love to hear what dietary changes you made and what diet you are following. Thanks for sharing.


    —> Would love to hear what dietary changes you made and what diet you are following.

    OK, I wasn’t going to tell what I am doing until AFTER I had been on the program for a year or more and then only if I was pleased with the results. However, you and several other people have asked so I will tell what I am experimenting with. If it turns out to be successful after an extended period of time, I’ll write about the details at some future date.

    Insert disclaimer here: I am not a medical expert and am not qualified to give anyone medical advice. I can only describe my own experiences. The same experiences may or may not work for you.

    After experimenting with several other diets, exercise programs, and recommendations from so-called “gurus,” I have now been on a keto diet for several weeks. In other words, I am limiting my food and drinks to an extremely low number of carbohydrates per day. With this diet, I can eat all the very low-carb food I want, within reasonable limits. I never feel hungry.

    For more information about keto diets, start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=keto+diet&t=h_&ia=web . You can learn far more about keto diets from those web sites than what I could ever tell you.

    However, please be aware that not all the recommendations on all those web sites agree with all the other recommendations. I have found some contradictions amongst the various “gurus.” I cannot tell you which recommendations are right or wrong. I am following the advice of one expert who has excellent credentials in the area of diet control for diabetics. I hope his ideas are good ones but I cannot tell for sure just yet.

    Again, I have only been doing this for a few weeks so it is far too early to declare a victory just yet. However, the early results are encouraging.

    Since my diabetes appears to be inherited, I probably will write about the results in this genealogy newsletter after I have been on the program long enough to be able to declare victory (or failure).

    Let me repeat the disclaimer: I am not a medical expert and am not qualified to give anyone medical advice. I can only describe my own experiences. The same experiences may or may not work for you.


Lori Smith Miranda March 12, 2019 at 10:36 am

My husband and I follow a similar program to the one I suspect you are doing – ours through a local nutritional consultant recommended to my husband by his cardiologist. I went along because it is also considered an anti-inflammatory diet. 2.5 years later, and it’s our way of life. I’ve been following the science both outside and from within the program as it is published and am very excited for the possibilities. BTW, I was ‘pre-diabetic’, but my last a1c was 4.5. I hope you continue to improve and enjoy the increased energy (and never feeling hungry)…


This is wonderful news! I’ve known that 23andMe has been popular among some of my paternal cousins for the ability to identify genetic traits that may lead to chronic or familial illnesses. My paternal side fears are brain tumors (including the whole head and ears) and T2DM and of course the resulting heart problems. I’ve been planning to also get my DNA tested w 23 although I already have Ancestry & My Heritage DNA testing. I’m also thinking since so far I’ve escaped anything chronic or catastrophic, at 80 I’m not too prone for illnesses. Ou of fear and only fear I’d rather not have Alzheimer’s and Dementia from my maternal side predicted … after all, if I do succumb to it in the next 10 years – and so far I’m not presenting any signs – I won’t even notice it, so let me be spared. Because yes, I’d rather have any of the previously mentioned or another short term treatable breast cancer like in my mid-40s than Alzheimer’s or Dementia. AS a healthcare provider treating many with DM how fortunate for you Thomas that you were able to identify your potential health problem and reverse it through diet and discipline. Keep up your good work and continue to keep us objectively informed. You’ll reach your perfect control point with your blood sugar and be able to ease up and balance the Keto regimen by choosing the right low glycemic index high fiber carbohydrate foods.


Scary. What happens when insurance companies start using these tests to find out what diseses you are predisposed to develop?


So delighted to read about your recent GOOD health news! My mother and grandmother had diabetes and my mother’s is currently in remission as well; not really sure how that happened, but I am so grateful it is. I am happy for you and send many well wishes your way. I appreciate your newsletter very much and the advice you have imparted to me in the past.


I am a very low key diabetes person, but I also had stage 3 kidney diease, I guess that was due to the diabetes. Once the kidney doctor took me off a number of the meds that I was taking (metforman was one of the meds) , the kidney diease went away. So my question is, why do we take so many meds and are they really good for us?


When you tested with 23andMe, was it the v5 chip or an earlier chip? From what I read, only those who tested with the v5 chip will get the reports. I tested with v3 so I won’t get the results. They let me know future reports won’t be available for those who tested with earlier chips, but they plan on offering an upgrade option. No word on when it will be available or what it will cost. If it’s a reasonable price, I would pay for the upgrade, but I expect it will be cheaper to buy v5 kit when it’s on sale for $49.


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