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Boonsri Dickinson is an Assistant Editor at DISCOVER magazine. After graduating with a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she pursued journalism. Boonsri bought[…]

Boonsri Dickinson had three direct-to-consumer companies analyze her genetic susceptibility to disease, and the results were all over the map.

Paul Hoffman: So I’m curious, you’re very young. You were 25 when you did this [had genetic testing by Navigenics, 23andMe, deCODE genetics]? 

Boonsri Dickinson: Uh-huh. 

Paul Hoffman: Have you altered your lifestyle in any way because of the results of these tests? 

Boonsri Dickinson: So I’ve changed a few things. I wear sunglasses now and I eat spinach. And my friends to try to get me to drink less, and now I do. And now they’re always begging me to drink more.

I think the whole experience has made me think more about my health. When I was 20, I got really sick and I just ran from the possibility that I was actually sick. So now, when I get the cold I’ll run to the doctor. I certainly think more long-term about my health.

When I wrote this story [“How Much Can You Learn From a Home DNA Test?”; from the September 2008 issue of “Discover” magazine], my editor wanted me to write it in the first person because I’m young. And when I handed her my story, her eyesight began to fail and she can hardly read the words that I wrote and over the next few months, I watched her get really sick. So that experience has made me think more about my own mortality and the diseases that are presented in these tests, suddenly became more real to me. And while it scares me, I can’t live my life in fear.

So I wouldn’t really recommend that you guys go spend your money on these tests. They’re not ready for primetime. But if you want a way to lead a healthier lifestyle, then maybe this is one way to do it. But it does have a psychological effect. So you just need to be aware of how you’re going to react to the information. How you deal with it.


Recorded on: July 14, 2009.