September 20, 2021
Product Reviews

23andMe Review | 5 Things You Should Know Before Buying

A 23andMe review curated by experts. Everything you need to know about the 23andMe costs, reports, quality, and value of 23andMe genetic DNA
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 reviews 23andMe and examines everything they have to offer. Check it out!

Curious about Genomelink? We're a DNA analysis site. Try it free – no credit required. You get an analysis of your first 25 traits for free.

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 DNA testing 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 and 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 DNA 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 analyses, 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 genetic DNA testing companies from providing such information without FDA approval or the involvement of physicians. However, 23andMe quickly changed its 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 ancestry DNA testing kits, 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), 23andMe pulls massive amounts of genetic data from your DNA. With this and a massive DNA testing kit database that trumps most companies, 23andMe is the only home DNA test 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!

23AndMe Ancestry Composition
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

23AndMe Glucose Intolerance Chart
Photo is taken from 23andMe Media Center

If you love what 23andMe has to offer and you want your DNA analysis results as fast as possible, consider the VIP Health + Ancestry package! With this DNA testing 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. 23andMe Reviews

23andMe is very transparent about its 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 on 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 Testing Kits page!

4. How Much Does 23ndMe 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 testing 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 the price for 23andMe Ancestry + Health report.

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

23andMe 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 DNA 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".

Do 23andme Kits Expire?

The genetic testing industry comprises teams of experts with cognate experience in DNA test kits. There are numerous DNA analysis sites in the industry, and 23andMe is one of the most famous companies renowned for consumer genetic DNA testing.

The company focuses on DNA testing for both health and ancestry approaches. Since its establishment, the passion for becoming the industry leader in using genetic information to enhance human health has continued over the years.

Very often, customers of DNA test kits ask the question - 'do 23andMe DNA test kits expire?' Yes, it can expire. Customers can identify the expiry date on the "Collect saliva by" date on the side of the collection tube. Ideally, any date later than that on the side of the collection tube implies expiration. 

In some cases, however, DNA ancestral kits can be used for a minimum of one year beyond the date of purchase. If there is a DNA kit with you for more than a year, 23andMe allows customers to activate the kit and send in their sample regardless.

Read on to learn more details concerning 23andMe as a company and its DNA test kit.

Why Genealogical DNA Testing?

Genealogical DNA testing fosters a better understanding of your ancestry and its origin. It also encourages better human-to-human connections with living relatives while you explore your family's past much better.

Its combination with health screening for close to 100 traits pre-dispositions and conditions translates to the bottom line of 23andMe's offer of an excellent tool that everyone should look into. 23andMe DNA test kit does two things:

  • Estimation of your ancestry. This can be done by region or ethnicity. It also allows you the opportunity to connect with even your long-lost relatives.
  • Testing your health to identify your genetic wellness, its traits, and health risks.

23andMe Offers a Replacement for Expired DNA Test Kits

Under the 23andMe DNA test kit replacement policy, customers are encouraged to provide their samples before the "Collect saliva by" date indicated on the collection tube. Basically, in case of a lost or damaged, or expired kit, the company offers to ship down a replacement at no cost.

But the company's policy is that replacement kits can only be shipped to the country used for the original order. Note that the kit's expiry date is on the "Collect saliva by" date on the side of the collection tube. In other words, you should provide your sample before the date; otherwise, you face the risk of the kit becoming expired.

Again, as already mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this post, there are cases where you can go on to use the DNA ancestral test kits for at least one more year after the purchase date. In addition, if you have a DNA kit with you for more than 365 days, the company permits customers to use the kit as long as they can activate it and send in their samples.

Other Related FAQs

Can I give my replacement kit to someone else not indicated in the order?

Of course, the company allows customers to give a replacement kit to another individual even though they were not indicated on the order. Upon purchasing 23andMe service for someone who does not want to provide a sample or is unwilling to do so, you can transfer the collection tube to someone else as long as the collection tube has not yet been registered.

Oftentimes, a collection tube is connected to or attached to a specific person during the registration process. But there is also a way out if the collection tube has already been registered. You can contact the company's customer care section and they will help you find options available to you.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to mention that a replacement kit that has failed because of sample failure must have been assigned to some other profile. Hence, it cannot be given to someone else.

How can I get a replacement kit?

Very simple! You can get a replacement kit by contacting the Customer Care Team of 23andMe. Provide the barcode on the current kit and state your current shipping address. In some cases, also, you may be asked about specific information concerning the original order before you can get a replacement kit shipped down.

What is the importance of registering my replacement kit?

You must register to enjoy the 23andMe offer. This is pretty straightforward- if you replace an unregistered kit, the new kit will be unregistered. Since the replacement kits have an association with the profile on the original kit, the profile owner must sign in to their account to register the replacement barcode.

You can check the company's website for additional information on this. In case you are not sure if the kit is registered, enter the barcode. You will be notified if it has been used, registered or you will get a prompt to complete registration.

For how long does 23andMe keep my DNA?

According to the company's policy, your DNA test results will be with 23andMe for up to 10 years.

Conclusion

The concept of genealogical DNA testing is to help you learn more about where you hail from and your ancestral history. Also, to connect with relatives still living and explore the past of your family more profoundly. 23andMe, the leading genealogical testing company, also offers DNA testing kits.

23andMe does expire. In a situation where you have an expired kit, contact customer support for a replacement. You will be asked some questions, and you can wait for your replacement.



Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO