- The Good
- Competitively priced
- In-depth reports
- Ability to find carrier status for health prevention
- The Bad
- Mildly invasive questioning
23andMe is a website that specializes in providing users with the scientific details of their DNA and ancestry. The services are competitively priced and include in-depth reports, but the process is lengthy, like that of most sites involving DNA research. Also, there are people who are mildly uncomfortable with answering some of the personal questions.
- Ancestry only
- Ancestry + Health
Users can get a full report, including genetic and ancestral information, for $199, or they can focus on ancestry only for $99. These price points are similar to other sites offering ancestry research at this time. Refunds may be requested in 30 days, but only if saliva has not yet been shipped.
- Genealogy Options
- Ancestry data file
- Relatives contact information
- No integrated family tree option
Users receive an ancestry report, a raw, uninterpreted, genetic data file and an interactive DNA map. They are able to view their genetic makeup by chromosome on a color-coded chart, and can see the split view between maternal and paternal-lines, as well as how they each contributed to the ancestry (if parents are connected to the network). Users can also access the DNA Relatives tool (to find the contact information of living relatives), and access the network for comparative purposes.
- Test Process
- Mitochondrial DNA test
- Autosomal DNA test
- Y chromosomal DNA test
- Results take 6 to 8 weeks
The company uses your saliva to obtain your DNA. A mitochondrial DNA test is the means for tracing your motherline ancestry using DNA located in the mitochondria. On the flip side, an autosomal DNA test uses DNA, which comes from autosomal chromosomes to uncover your ancestry and Neanderthal ancestry. Lastly, the Y Chromosome DNA test is a genealogy DNA test to research a man’s patrilineal ancestry using the male-specific, Y chromosome.
23andMe offers four main reports: Ancestry Composition, Haplogroups, Neanderthal Ancestry and Your DNA Family. All reports will be delivered electronically, as this company only provides electronic results. Users must have a working email address, along with a smartphone, tablet or computer, in order to receive results.
- Additional Features
- Genetic Health Risk reports
- Wellness reports
- Traits reports
- Carrier Status reports
In addition to the four main reports, some users also receive genetic health risk reports, which are designed to uncover a predisposition for Parkinson’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s, among other diseases.
Wellness reports detail things such as lactose intolerance, genetic weight, caffeine consumption and alcohol flush reaction. Traits reports give an overview of the genetic likelihood of attributes such as eye color, bitter taste perception, earwax type, freckles, unibrows, hair curliness and toe-length ratio. Lastly, carrier status reports detail the likelihood of being affected by disorders such as cystic fibrosis, blood syndrome, Canavan MCAD Deficiency and many other diseases.
23andMe: User Reviews
A site that offers the ability to trace your genetic and ancestral background via the use of your own DNA, 23andMe is a huge opportunity for users who want to find out more about the health of their family line or discover forgotten deceased or living relatives. In three simple steps, users can unlock a wealth of information with regards to their personal health as well as their ancestral history.
Using the many interactive features, people are able to better understand themselves and others by comparing and contrasting the information they receive. Millions have used this service and continue to find innovative ways to utilize this information. Moreover, by being able to view things such as Carrier Status, users receive vital information that can help with the health prevention efforts of themselves and their loved ones.
How Does 23andMe Work?
While the process is fairly lengthy, it is also very straightforward. First, users must choose either Ancestry or Health and Ancestry services. Although they receive the same kit for both, the latter includes much more involved research and analysis. The kit typically arrives in three to five business days. The users then follow the instructions given to collect their saliva in the tube provided. They must also register the barcode on the tube so that the lab knows who the tube belongs to, and then mail back the tube. The results are ready within six to eight weeks. The user receives an email when the results are ready to be viewed.
What Makes 23andMe Stand Out?
As mentioned, 23andMe offers a unique report, the Carrier Status report, which offers insight into the potential for developing certain disorders over time. Furthermore, both the Carrier Status report and Genetic Health Risk report meet the FDA criteria for being clinically and scientifically valid. In addition, the saliva samples required for these reports are processed in CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited labs only.
Common Reviews of 23andMe
Though reviews vary, on the whole, 23andMe has a reputation as a solid site that delivers consistent results. For the most part, users say their findings were accurate and that they were pleased with the experience. Furthermore, many report that it took much less than the potential eight weeks they were quoted (some say it only took about a month). This alone is a huge selling point for those anxious to know more about their heritage.
Also, the site includes things, such as general genetic trends among you and your relatives, which make using the site an entertaining experience for most. Furthermore, the customer service is said to be outstanding. Although the platform is simple to use, those who are not technologically inclined may need to request assistance on occasion.
Is 23andMe for me?
Overall, 23andMe is a great site for virtually anyone. While men get the more in-depth reports (due to the Y chromosome factor), everyone seems fairly impressed with the information they receive. Additionally, the service provides both ends of a serious spectrum: users can find out about matters such as the diseases to which they are genetically predisposed and also gain insight on more lighthearted things, such as the likelihood that they have unknown family members who live near them.
Either way, 23andMe can provide a wealth of knowledge that helps people better understand themselves and their families, as well as others. However, those who think they may have negative feelings in the event that they uncover ancestors of one ethnicity or another should certainly think twice before opening this Pandora’s box. The bottom line is that this is truly life-changing information, for better or worse, from a highly unique site.