23andMe: Are there health traits I may be missing?
23andMe is a great testing company if you want to learn more about how your genetics influence your health. They also offer ancestry testing, the ability to search for family members in their DNA database, and predictions on certain physical traits. 23andMe test results report on well-researched traits and have very clear correlations with certain health conditions and outcomes. You can also use their chromosome browser to look at different areas of your DNA! However, legally and logistically, they cannot report every health trait that has been correlated to autosomal DNA.
What stops 23andMe from reporting all health-related genetic information?
The science of genetic testing has uncovered far more health traits than found in 23andMe DNA results. 23andMe testing services do not report certain traits for a number of reasons. First off, there are simply far too many genome-wide association studies for 23andMe to reasonably report on all of them. Scientists across the world are constantly researching genetic correlations to a wide variety of traits.
Secondly, 23andMe DNA kits only report on traits that have been confirmed by multiple studies. This means that multiple studies must confirm a trait is correlated with a genetic variant before they will include it in their reports. This is a good practice because most users don’t fully understand how correlation studies work, and confirmations from multiple studies increase the reliability of the trait.
Lastly, 23andMe has previously been chastised by the FDA for over-marketing the validity and importance of their reports. Because of this, they are now very careful about what traits they include and how they market those traits to users. While this is good for the average consumer, there is actually a wide variety of health traits that 23andMe does not cover.
What information does 23andMe not report?
23andMe covers many important health-related genetic traits, from your risk for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease to your risk for developing breast cancer. These traits have been highly researched and have multiple published studies supporting the results. For example, Alzheimer’s disease has been investigated by hundreds of published studies of genetic variants.
However, traits like Wilson’s disease, which causes copper to build up in the body and is not as well understood or researched, is not included. Only a handful of studies have attempted to correlate the disease to specific genes, and along with its statistical rarity, traits like this are excluded from 23andMe’s report.
There are hundreds of other diseases and health risks that are likely influenced by genetics that 23andMe cannot cover for various reasons. But, if you have a family history of a certain disease or simply want to know as much as possible about your genome, you should consider looking to other sources for additional information.
Where can I find more health-related genetic information?
There are a few different options for finding additional genetic health information not provided by 23andMe. These sites analyze your raw DNA file provided by 23andMe, and can tell you about a wealth of information that 23andMe does not provide.
At Genomelink, you can get information about 25 genetic traits for free, by simply uploading your DNA data file. Many of these traits are health-related and are not reported on by 23andMe for various reasons. Our expert editors review the genes involved, the science behind the correlations, and condense it down into informative and helpful articles on various conditions.
You can also subscribe to get a longer extended list of health traits and reports based on your genome data! Through these reports and the Genomelink dashboard, you can find a ton of useful information. As a bonus, we also email new weekly traits to continue informing our users more about themselves. This is a great way to discover all the different ways your genes affect your health, wellbeing, and lifestyle!
Promethease is a site that can connect you directly to the scientific literature that has been published on genetic variants you carry. However, Promethease does not translate the science for you, like other sites. Instead, Promethease scans your raw data file for any correlations that have been reported in the literature. The program is a literature retrieval system that links the genetic data you carry directly to the scientific publications describing genetic correlations.
Promethease works with SNPedia, which is essentially a Wiki site for all genetic variants. SNPedia records all genetic studies and which variants they are related to. Using Promethease, you can get information on many of the genetic variants you carry, and you can use their analysis tools to determine for yourself how rigorous and informative the science is. You can read our article on using Promethease for more information on how this process works and what you can learn! Alternatively, you can check out this sample Promethease report to see the complex wealth of information you can uncover.
Do More With Your Raw DNA Data!
While the above sources are great for finding information about health-related genetic variants, there are a number of other traits not related directly to health that you may want to learn about. This includes ancestry DNA reports, family finder services, DNA testing for nutrition, and general wellness and lifestyle information based on your DNA file. Many of these sites offer free analysis! Check them out!
To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"