2 minutes reading time (411 words)

Snow joke: it's in my DNA

Two inches of snow: brilliant. Yes, our road is icy but I have a four wheel drive car. And the school is open. Shame I have to have heating on, but the cats sharpen their claws every time I approach the thermostat to turn it down. I do love cold weather. And now I know why: it’s in my genes

Like most Londoners, I’ve always known I had a complicated, multi-national ancestry. My son is fascinated by his forebears. So of course we jumped at the chance of a cut price DNA test. Well, not that cheap: it was something like £120 including postage for the two of us. We duly spat into mini test tubes and posted them off. A few weeks later, just after Christmas, we got the results.

And here’s the reason why I’ve a fondness for snow, smoked fish and Nordic TV programmes. My profile shows I’m 22% Scandinavian. I’m also 34% Western European (French, German, Belgian or Dutch); 22% British and 19% Irish. So, a typical Londoner: I’ve even got tiny percentages of Spanish and North African blood, apparently. The boy’s DNA shows he is more British than I, though no North African: it’s replaced by more Spanish blood and a drop of Italian-Greek stuff.

All nonsense, of course, although quite fun. We didn’t go for the kind of test which tells you what dread diseases we might contract (who on earth would want to make their lives deliberately miserable?). But if you have proper predictive genetic testing (rather than diagnostic) – which presumably means that it would be done by medical professionals, insurers can ask for the results if you apply for life or critical illness cover. But, according to the Association of British Insurers, they can only do this if the test for was Huntington’s Disease and you want more than £500,000 of life insurance.

And while insurers can use your family history to set your life insurance premiums (understandably they may want to know if your father died of heart disease in his forties, for example) that’s not all they use: where you live, what you lifestyle is (smoking, weight) and occupation affect them too. Life insurance can be really cheap if you are young/slim/non-smoking: a few pounds a month. Use a comparison site such as www.moneysupermarket.com to check premiums. Remember, life insurance does simply what it says on the tin so buy on price alone.

There’s more information on DNA here: https://www.abi.org.uk/Insurance-and-savings/Topics-and-issues/Genetics/Genetics-FAQs.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2019