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September 1, 2020
Product Reviews

23andMe Review | 5 Things You Should Know Before Buying

A 23andMe review curated by Experts. Everything you need to know about the costs, reports, quality, and value of 23andMe DNA test kits!
By
Tomohiro Takano

The Genomelink team has been working in the genetic testing industry for a long time. Based on our knowledge and experience, we can offer expert reviews of DNA test kits in a standardized format! This article covers 23andMe, and examinizes everything they have to offer. Check it out!

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1. About the Company
2. Test Results and Sample Reports
3. Reviews
4. Cost
5. Upload Raw DNA Data from 23andMe

 

1. About the Company

Quick Facts:

 Company Name: 23andMe, Inc.
 Foundation Year: 2006
 Location: Mountain View, California, United States
Number of employees: 501–1000 (Crunch Base)
Monthly Visits: 7 Million (SimilarWeb)
Number of Users: 10+ Million (DNA Geek)
Website: www.23andMe.com
Social Media: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

23andMe is one of the most well-known consumer genetic companies focusing on health and ancestry DNA testing. From the time it was founded, the company has been passionate about becoming the leader in using genetic information to improve people’s health. For instance, 23andMe is currently leveraging the data from their genetic tests to conduct research on coronavirus to determine which groups of people need to be more cautious while COVID-19 is spreading!

Founded by current CEO Anne Wojcicki in 2006 and backed by Google Ventures, the company is one of the pioneers in the Direct-to-Consumer genetic testing industry. Wojcicki is married to a Google co-founder and worked in the healthcare industry for decades, while 23andMe's other co-founders (Linda Avey and Paul Cusenza) brought a wealth of scientific and marketing knowledge to the table.

In the beginning, 23andMe offered a larger variety of genetic traits analysis, including health and disease risks. Typical of a Silicon Valley company, 23andMe quickly pushed the limits of medical research and genetic reports. In 2013, the FDA (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration) banned the company and other testing companies from providing such information without FDA approval or the involvement of physicians. However, 23andMe quickly changed their marketing and customer results to comply with FDA requirements.

Today, the company provides disease risk and health condition information, such as Carrier status for genetic diseases, genetic risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and many other conditions. Recently, the company was also authorized to provide pharmacogenetics (how DNA affects your ability to metabolize the chemicals in medications) reports for several common medications. In 2018, 23andMe entered into a partnership with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to help leverage their data into making better pharmaceuticals. The company also has very competitive DNA ancestry tests, making them a top choice for most consumers!

 

2. Test Results and Sample Reports

23andMe offers its users two different packages. One is simply an Ancestry Service (including non-health traits) and the other is a Health + Ancestry Service. 23andMe uses cutting edge scientific research to continuously expand its database of health information correlated to genetic data. In fact, they were the first company to gain FDA clearance to warn users of increased risks from certain genetic traits and carrier status reports related to genetic medical conditions. Users are encouraged to participate in online research and give feedback via online surveys to help researchers link their data to various study topics.

Ancestry

Using Illumina chips that process over 700,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (genetic variants), pulling massive amounts of genetic data from your DNA. With this and a massive testing kit database that trumps most companies, 23andMe is one of the only home DNA tests that can correlate your ancestry to over 2000+ global regions! Here's what you get with an Ancestry + Traits testing kit:

  • 50+ reports including Ancestry Composition, Ancestry Detail Reports, Maternal & Paternal Haplogroups, Neanderthal Ancestry
  • DNA Relative Finder (opt-in): Find and connect with relatives in the 23andMe database who share DNA with you.
  • Family Tree Builder (new!): Software automatically builds your family tree based on your DNA!

Photo is taken from 23andMe Media Center

Health

  • 10+ Health Test reports including:
    - Breast cancer and ovarian cancer for BRCA1/BRCA2 gene (selected genetic variants)
    - Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease
    - Parkinson's disease
    - Type 2 Diabetes (1000's of variants covered!)
    - Celiac Disease
  • Carrier Status reports
    - 40+ reports including Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hereditary Hearing Loss
  • Wellness reports
    - 5+ reports including Deep Sleep, Lactose Intolerance, Genetic Weight
  • Traits reports
    - 30+ traits including Male Bald Spot, Sweet vs. Salty, Unibrow

Photo is taken from 23andMe Media Center

If you love what 23andMe has to offer and you want your results as fast as possible, consider the VIP Health + Ancestry package! With this test kit, you get bumped right to the head of the line with priority lab processing. Plus, you get 1 year of premium customer support and a 1-on-1 session with a trained expert to guide you through your ancestry results!

Here are some sample reports you can access before you make your decision!

Sample reports by 23andMe

 

3. Reviews

23andMe is very transparent about their customer experiences. You can check detailed customer stories and reviews on their website.

- 23andMe customers on Customer Stories
- Review powered by Authentic Review (4.1 of 5 Stars!)
- What people are saying about 23andMe on Reddit
- Find out more about what people are Twitter are saying about 23andMe.

One thing you should know about their health report is that recently in 2019 a concern for its BRCA test was published by Invitae, another clinical DNA testing company. The research revealed that “23andMe DTC Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk Test Misses Almost 90 Percent of BRCA Mutation Carriers”.

If you are considering purchasing this test solely to check your cancer risk, you should think twice about it. The 3 BRCA variants that 23andMe has been authorized to test for are found mostly in the Ashkenazi Jewish population and only cause about 5% of breast cancers. If you are not part of that population and are concerned about breast cancer, you should look into genetic health testing that is more specific and covers more variants. You can find some great companies on our Best DNA Test Kits page!

 

4. Cost

23andMe offers Ancestry and Health reports separately. You can buy an Ancestry report for $99 or an Ancestry + Health report for $199. Both kits require collection of a saliva sample and come with everything you need to get started. It is possible to upgrade your Ancestry kit after the fact, since 23andMe analyzes the same variants regardless of the kit you purchase. This means that after you buy a $99 Ancestry report with a DNA test kit, you do not have to pay the full $199 to get the Health + Ancestry report. However, the upgrade is $125. So, if you decide to upgrade later you will be paying about $25 more than if you get the Health + Ancestry kit the first time.

$99 Ancestry report
$199 Health + Ancestry report
$19/month Weight loss program

23andMe has recently started its own weight loss program in partnership with an AI-based diet app company called Lark. You can subscribe to Lark’s diet program which is personalized according to your genetic profile on 23andMe. The fee is $19/month, but the program is recognized by the CDC as a Diabetes Prevention Program!

In addition, 23andMe is actively expanding its database for non-European populations, including Asian and African. If you are eligible, you may be able to join 23andMe's Global Genetics Project and get a Health + Ancestry test for free! They are currently recruiting individuals with all four grandparents born in the same country from the list of countries below:

Angola / Benin / Bhutan / Botswana / Burundi / Chad / Cote d'Ivoire / French Guiana / Gabon / Madagascar / Mali / Mozambique / Niger / Paraguay / Tajikistan / Tanzania / Turkmenistan / Uganda / Vanuatu / Zambia

5. Upload Raw DNA Data from 23andMe

Your DNA experience does not end when you get the results from 23andMe! You can download your original DNA file and upload it to other websites for additional analysis. Here are 10 major websites that accept DNA data files from 23andMe.

Know "More" About Your DNA Data

1. Genomelink — FREE
2. Promethease (genetic health risk)

Ancestry Tests

3. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) — FREE
4. MyHeritage DNA — FREE
5. LivingDNA — FREE
6. GEDmatch — FREE

Nutrition and Fitness

7. Genopalate
8. Athletigen
9. Vintage
10. DNA Fit

To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"


Did you get 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or MyHeritage results back? Upload your raw DNA data to access 200+ traits for FREE at Genomelink!
Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO