23andMe was launched in 2006 and offers to consumers DNA genetic testing to help determine a persons ancestry, genetic health risks, carrier status, traits, and overall wellness (based on the persons genes). In all there are more than 75 reports that customers can get access to (depends on service ordered). 23andMe.com currently have over 2 million genotyped customers. The name of the company refers to how the human DNA is organized into 23 pairs of chromosomes.
For testing DNA all that is required is a saliva sample you collect using the 23andMe kit which you will receive after you place your order. 23andMe is available only in English but can be ordered from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and a number of countries in Europe.
When analyzing your DNA, 23andME uses a process called Genotyping. This means they use certain DNA sequences and compare them with known DNA sequences that have been determined to cause certain traits, health issues, etc. Humans have over 3 billion base pairs of DNA so comparing a small group of DNA sequences uses this process is much quicker while still producing accurate results.
How It Works
It is a simple process. First you need to visit 23andMe.com and create a free account and then place your order for the service you want. Your saliva collection kit will then be mailed to you (it is the same for all services) and should arrive within 3 to 5 days. Express shipping of the kit is also available.
Once you have received your kit you will need to follow the instructions of how to spit into the provided collection tube, how much of a saliva sample is needed, and how to combine it with the buffer afterwards with the funnel on the tube. The buffer is an important part of this process as it stabilizes your sample and allows it to be stored for up to 6 months in a wide variety of temperatures (making it safe to mail from anywhere). Important: On the collection tube you will find a bar code. This number code will need to be registered with your 23andMe account so the company will know who the sample belongs too. If the sample is not registered then it will not be processed. Once you have your sample you need to put the tube in the biohazard bag, and then the bag into the 23andMe box. Seal the box and then place it in the mail. The box has prepaid posting on it so there is no additional cost to you.
On the 23andMe website you can follow along and track your sample to see what process stage it is at. Once you mail your sample you can expect it to take 6 to 8 weeks before your reports are ready. 23andMe will send you an email once they have received your sample and then again when the reports are ready. Once your reports are ready you can log into 23andMe to view the reports and discovery more about your DNA. Your reports can only be accessed online and are never emailed to you.
This video below offers an excellent overview of the entire process:
Privacy is an important part of 23andMe mission. Your data is protected physically, technically and through administrative measures. 23andMe gives you control over how you share your information. This includes things like if you want your saliva sample stored, have your account visible to other 23andMe members, and if you with to participate in the DNA Relatives tool which connects you to other 23andMe members. Most privacy options are opt-in which means it is not shared automatically and you must manually agree to share.
23andMe does no sell or lease your individual level information to and third party without your prior consent. They do share aggregate information (information stripped of any identifying information and combined with others) to conduct research and improve services.
Services & Costs
23andMe offers 2 DNA genetic testing services. Standard shipping costs for the kit is $9.99 but usually 23andMe will have some sort of promotion which gives you free shipping.
This service costs $99 and offers 4 reports which allows you to get a global breakdown of your ancestors.
- Ancestry Composition - Find out where your DNA comes from based on 31 different populations worldwide
- Haplogroups - Trace your ancestors to a specific group of people from over 1,000 years ago. Based on generations in your family
- Neanderthal Ancestry - What percentage of Neanderthal DNA do you have?
- Your DNA Family - Overview of the people who share your DNA
You can also opt-in to the DNA Relative Finder and connect with other 23andMe customers who share DNA with you. Message them and find out what genetic similarities and differences you have.
Health + Ancestry Service
This service costs $199 and offers over 75 reports. This includes the reports from the Ancestry Service along with 4 reports explaining your Genetic Health Risks, 8 Wellness reports, over 15 reports on Traits, and 40 plus Carrier Status reports.
Genetic Health Risks
These tests check on different variants of specific genes. If the variants of the genes exists then there is a greater risk of you inheriting the specific disease. Having the variant doesn't mean you will get the disease as there are usually other factors involved like your age, lifestyle and environment. Each report will explain the disease (how common it is, symptoms, how it is treated), what the testing checks, limitations of the tests, and other factors involved. Remember these tests do not diagnose the disease, just the risk of you getting the disease.
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - An inherited disorder that can cause lung and liver disease
- Hereditary Thrombophilia - Blood clots in blood vessels caused by an abnormality of blood coagulation
- Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease - The most common cause of dementia in people aged 65 and older
- Parkinson's Disease - A long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mostly affects the motor system
Get 8 different reports related to weight, sleep, muscle, and tolerances to ingredients in foods (like alcohol and lactose). The report will explain what it is checking for and how your genes predispose you to it. The report explains how the result was calculated and what the average is and where you genetically should be. If you actually fall above or below what your genetics suggest you should be at (for example your weight) then the report will explaining ways to improve your situation.
These 15 plus reports show how predisposed you would be to specific traits dealing with smell, taste, and physical features. For example the Taste report explains the likelihood of how extreme your bitter taste perception is, and if you have a salt or sweet tooth. The reports also compares your results as a percentage with the rest of the 23andMe customer base (that have opted in). You also get an explanation of the biology behind the traits, how it has evolved in humans, and any other factors that could affect it beyond genetics like gender, age, and stress.
Other interesting trait reports includes:
- Bald Spot, Hair Color, Taste, Cheek Dimples, Cleft Chin, Earlobe, Type, Eye Color, Freckles, Skin Pigmentation, Unibrow, Widow's Peak, and others
These reports are more interesting by the information they provide about the trait, other factors that affect it, and how prevalent it is in the world. Since the trait report is about you, what is less surprising is how predispose you are to the trait since for the most part they are physical traits and those are easy to confirm by just looking in the mirror.
These reports are ideal for those starting a family who wish to know if they are a carrier for certain inherited conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, Hereditary Hearing Loss, and Sickle Cell Anemia (plus over 40 others). Carriers only have 1 variant for the condition and usually do not have the genetic condition but if both parents are carriers then their is a 25% chance their child will have the condition.
Relevance of each of these reports varies based on ethnicity. According to 23andMe their:
... PGS test uses qualitative genotyping to detect clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva collected using an FDA-cleared collection device (Oragene·DX model OGD-500.001) for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks and reporting carrier status. It is not intended to diagnose any disease...
23andMe are careful to say that their Carrier Reports are not meant to tell you about the risk of getting the disease or about the health of your children and the risk of them getting the disease. For more information on any of these genetic tests please visit 23andMe.
All prices in USD unless specified other wise. Prices may or may not include shipping, handling, and taxes. If available in other countries prices may be different. Costs were last checked on August 07, 2017.
23andMe has a very in-depth online help and customer support system. Online you can search their FAQ which is organized by category making it easy to find the important information you are looking for. Help articles are easy to read and include photos and videos which explains things further. Customer Support can be contacted via a message form found on 23andMe.com or you can reach out on Social Media on the 23andMe Facebook page, Twitter page, and YouTube Channel.
- Connect and share your 23andMe information with your MyHeritage account
- For those adopted use 23andMe to help find your biological relatives and information about your genetic ancestry
Disclaimer: While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of our information at Review Chatter we shall not be held responsible for any discrepancy. There is a possibility that the information provided here is outdated or wrong, please check with the companies website directly for the most recent information. As always you should read your terms of service before purchasing any product online or signing up to any online service.