For almost a year now Own Your Labs (OYL) has been in a kind of “Soft Launch”. It originated from our efforts to gather anonymized data such as through our #BloodTestingDrive at several conferences. Put simply, we’ve sought to (1) get people easier access to bloodwork, and (2) promote greater open science by putting together a publicly archived, yet anonymized set of advanced bloodwork and demographic data.
Affordable Private Labs = Independence
I know this is going to sound like “marketing speak”, but I’m quite serious when I say this – we want everyone who wants to order their labs privately to have the freedom to do so. Which means helping people find the labs they are looking for as affordably as possible, which means keeping our profit margins low AND encouraging comparison shopping. Yes, we even list our favorite competitors on our home page given current recommendation and experience in the community (which I’ll list here as well: Direct Labs, Ulta Lab Tests, Walk-In Lab)
A very large number of people have told us over the years that they’d love to get their bloodwork privately instead of waiting for every time it was setup through their doctor’s office. Often they’re interested in the same tests we are (like fasting Insulin, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), or NMR Lipoprofile) that simply aren’t ordered at all by many medical professionals. And while we’d always encourage everyone to take this data back to their doctor, we agree they should have the freedom to get it in the first place.
Because of how many tests Siobhan and I get on a regular basis (“power users”) and a bit of negotiating behind the scenes, we have an in of sorts with LabCorp which is how we got this pricing. Moreover, as we build on volume of tests with others through, this will give us stronger negotiating with LabCorp in the future to potentially get better pricing.
So in short, yes, our prices are pretty great. But again, that isn’t the real reason we started OYL…
Give Everyone the Option for Citizen Science
The second (and really, biggest) reason we started OYL was to give everyone the option to contribute their data anonymously. We want to build a large, publicly accessible dataset available to formal and citizen researchers alike. If so many of us are getting these advanced tests on our own, why not share it with the community along with some basic demographic data? This will be especially useful for the low carb demographic given how little open data is available for this group.
So we set it up OYL to make this its central theme. You can either (1) use our service as you would any other online, or (2) submit your data to get a “Citizen Scientist Discount” of 10% off the order.
While we had no idea just how many would opt for this choice, I’m pleased to say it’s about 4 out of every 5 who have used OYL to date!
We don’t yet have the anonymized data pool posted as we want to collect a high quantity of submissions to even further anonymize it for those participating. But we will likely meet that threshold in the coming months and launch it here at CC.
Now Ready for Prime Time
When we launched OwnYourLabs.com last year it was a simple cart system in a WordPress site. It has been growing ever since, which is great. However, it had a number of things we wanted to improve on. The number of tests listed were limited to 10 a page, it couldn’t sort alphabetically, and the consent to submit anonymized data required a tricky use of a special coupon code tied to our Terms of Service.
As of yesterday that’s all history. Now OYL is far more intuitive and easy to use. Tests are now in an infinite scrolling list with a real time search. Sorting can be done either in the drop down or by the column you prefer such as the name or price.
Best of all, we have a new consent checkbox that both opens the demographic form and applies a 10% discount all in the same click.
While both Siobhan and myself are partners in OYL, it’s been much more a labor of love than a Big Business Venture. Currently we forward all proceeds toward the Citizen Science Foundation. That said, it’s popularity is taking up more and more of our time, and this refresh might be taking that to the next level.
I certainly welcome the challenge of greater and greater volume to OYL to build this data pool (CSDA) and to help take us take this chapter of Citizen Science to the next level. I’m excited to see the many different analyses it will inspire from both formal and citizen researchers.
Do you know if similar schemes operate in the U.K.?
There may be – but I’m not familiar with them off the top of my head. You may want to ask in the Cholesterol Code facebook group, as someone there might know/be able to recommend some if there are.
Kudos to you both!
Thank you, Paul!
If you ever get around to it, could you include example results? For instance, you list multiple advanced lipid tests, one with a graph, but I do not know what the differences are.
Hi Bob – Sample Reports are available on the LabCorp pages for specific tests, so it’s a good suggestion – I’ll ping Dave to see what we’d need to put together some for ourselves.
Is this available in Australia?
Hi Deb, at the current time Own Your Labs is only available to those with access to a LabCorp in participating areas of the United States. However, if there are any updates to this we’ll definitely make it known!
This is awesome! Since I don’t have insurance, I’m always ordering my own labs and ‘m always looking for ways to save!
Great to hear it may be useful for you, Sheryl!
Potential hyper-responder here. Hey Dave, I am a 33 yo LCHF NSNG advocate with recent blood work done showing LDL >250 HDL > 80 and Triglycerides <65. I ramped up my physical activity at the turn of the new year and these results were from about a week ago. I understand you are collecting data on people like me. Let me know if I can contribute. Thanks
I did blood test in private lab 2 days ago and I’m just learning about lean mass hyper responder
Total cholesterol 7.62 *
Triglycerides 0.47 * mmol/L
Apolipoprotein B 1.13
Cholesterol fractions HDL-Cholesterol (1) 2.56 mmol/L
LDL-Cholesterol (1) 4.84 * mmol/L
Non-HDL-C (1) 5.06 mmol/L
Chol/HDL (1) 2.98
I’ve been on keto only few months but I’ve done low carb before
I’m 5,3 tall
Body fat 22.6%
I’ve been on keto few months (moderate) but I’ve done low carb before
Hi, we can’t give medical advice as we’re not doctors, so we can only share our thoughts in case they may be of interest.
Based off the profile you’ve provided, this does look close to the profile of a Lean Mass Hyper-responder, with LDL only slightly below the cutoff e.g. someone who is typically lean, active, and powered by fat (e.g. on a low carb/ketogenic diet). You may be interested in the Lean Mass Hyper-responder facebook group as there are many there with similar profiles who explore the latest research regarding it, their experience, their perspective, and how they’ve approached having the profile (e.g. taking steps to move away from the profile and how they did so, sticking with it but getting additional testing to keep an eye on things, etc). Dave has also done a presentation discussing the possible mechanism behind this profile (what he calls the Lipid Energy Model) discussed in depth here.
We can’t say whether this profile is of concern or not (again we’re not doctors), but we can offer some resources to explore different perspectives on the topic. For example there’s this presentation from Dave looking at high LDL in the context of high HDL and low triglycerides from a cautiously optimistic perspective, plus this post from Dr. Nadolsky looking at the same topic from a cautiously pessimistic perspective.
I hope that helps get you started on exploring this.
I just want to say thank you for this. I started LCHF diet around mid-January and at the time I weighed about 195 lbs. A year ago I weighed around 235 lbs so I’ve been losing weight for awhile. I’m also 6′ tall and 34 years old with blood pressure 116/68 on average.
A year ago my lipid panel looked like this while I was on a rather poor diet and weighing 235 lbs, a vaper but active as I walked 3 miles per day to the office:
VLDL: (was not measured/calculated)
After I started LCHF diet in January, I decided to see what my yearly lab would look like after three months. I have also been on a 20/4 IF feed schedule and my weight dropped from 195 lbs to 173 lbs. The results came back like this:
Not sure why TG went up but I attribute it to weight loss, fasting for 20 hours per day and possibly being much more sedentary than last year when I took the previous panel. At first the LDL number scared me, however after doing more research and seeing my TG/HDL ratio is not bad, I feel a little better. Needless to say, my doctor immediately started throwing the word “medication” around. I convinced him that it is probably due to weight loss and that I’d like to re-test in a few months and he agreed.
Because I can now do lipid panels pretty cheaply thanks to you, I am going to alter my diet a bit to include some more soluble fiber in oatmeal, berries, beans and a bit less saturated fats to be replaced with more monounsaturated fats. I’ll then re-test after a month and possibly every month hereafter. My weight is kind of settling down and should settle after the introduction of more unrefined carbohydrates. I am also going to start weight lifting and cardio again.
Hi CMJ, thanks for sharing your results. We’re not doctors and can’t give medical advice, so can only comment our thoughts in case they may be of interest.
Regarding the triglycerides, I’d be curious as to whether both of these tests were taken while 12-14 hours water-only fasted (no coffee, no tea, no caffeine during the fasting period). While I’ve seen similar changes from expected fluctuation with triglycerides in myself and some others (they tend to be one of the ‘noisier’ markers from what we’ve noticed), not being water-only fasted or water-only fasting outside of the 12-14 hour range has sometimes shown itself to be a potential confounder I personally always try to keep an eye out for (hence why we personally prefer sticking to 12-14 hours water-only fasted for bloodwork to sidestep the potential confounder).
An update after 1 month of going on a more Mediterranean diet:
Weight has stabilized and have been more active. I expected about a 20% drop based on research and that’s exactly what I got.
Thanks for the update with your results!
Hey, Dave! Just had to share this with you. For reference, been low carbing it since 2001, and carnivore since 2018 in July. So…a month ago had a blood draw and it was spectacularly BAD. I mean, total C topping out at 495; my Trig were at 189; my HDL at 80. My PA immediately wants me on a statin. I say: “Man these numbers are so different from the past, what say we wait one month and redo and we go from there?” So yesterday had blood draw again. Total: 237. HDL up to 99. TRIGs DOWN big time to 63, 120 less than last time. And the number that really matters is the Trig/HDL and mine comes in at .64. The difference? None of my unfiltered coffee. I had some unfiltered and buttered coffee in the a.m. last time, so wasn’t strictly fasting. This time I was: no coffee till I got home from the blood draw, and I had fasted for 16 hours before the draw. I am eager to hear what the Dr. will make of this, because those folks don’t tend to think the numbers swing like that!
Thanks for sharing, William! We have definitely seen this in data reported back from others over time as well – namely that not being 12-14 hours water-only fasted (up to 18 hours as max) either via being fasted less than 12 hours *or* not being water-only fasted (as you mentioned; e.g. coffee, tea, or caffeine had during the fasting period) can act as a confounder.
It’s actually the most common one we see, and it’s listed in our high triglycerides on low carb post.
Worth noting, that so far when we see that someone has higher than expected triglycerides paired with an expected level of HDL it typically turns out that something has confounded the test (usually via not being water-only fasted 12-14 hours water-only prior to the blood draw).
Thanks, Siobhan, for the reply and for all you guys have done. So illuminating!!!
I just placed my order for bloodwork through Own Your Labs–this is my second time using the site–love it; the only tests I was hoping to order but didn’t see, were three that are suggested in the Wheat Belly/Undoctored group: Omega-3 Index, Omega 6:3 Ratio and Methylmalonic Acid. Perhaps you will consider adding those in the future??
If we gain access to those, particularly if we’re able to negotiate good pricing, then we would definitely want to of course. By the way, for best response time on questions relating to OYL emailing us or calling us (under the ‘contact us’ on the own your labs site) is your best bet to make sure we can ensure a quick reply to any questions or suggestions! 🙂
Just had my first labs drawn this morning. All went smoothly at LabCorp. Thanks!
Hey Dave and Siobhan, I don’t see B7 testing available over at OYL. Is it just too durn expensive? (I see it for about $200 at LabCorps) Not sure why biotin is not as accessible for us citizens scientists.