In This Article
In This Article
Our Verdict: For a reasonable price, 23andMe gave me a lot of useful and interesting information on my ancestry, health, and other genetic traits.
Even without a membership, I received more than 150+ reports and access to its features, like the relative finder and family tree builder.
All it took was a saliva sample and a few weeks of waiting before receiving my reports. The 23andMe app made it so much easier to view my results.
But what makes 23andMe truly stand out from its competition are its comprehensive health reports.
While it couldn’t check for every possible health risk, it tested me for some of the most debilitating conditions–like type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.
There’s just one thing I don’t like about 23andMe: it doesn’t let you upload raw data from other companies like Ancestry or My Heritage.
So if you’ve taken other tests and downloaded your DNA data from these services, you can’t use them to find relatives or build your family tree on 23andMe.
While this is meant to protect your data and privacy, it’s a missed opportunity considering that 23andMe has the second largest database next to Ancestry.
23andMe offers DNA testing kits for ancestry, health, and other genetic traits.
23andMe tests are available online. You can take them at home and get your results in three to five weeks–making it a convenient way to learn more about your DNA.
I’ve been testing DNA kits for the last seven years and have taken every DNA test on the market. I’ve compared results and have been committed to testing and tracking any changes over time.
As an organization, we at KnowYourDNA are committed to helping you get the most accurate information about your ancestry, health risks, and other genetic traits.
We only choose at-home DNA tests that meet the standards of the DNA testing industry and provide reliable testing methods.
Our in-house medical experts help ensure the accuracy of our articles by reviewing them before publication.
23andMe offers two DNA test kits and a subscription program. You should pick the service that can provide you with the results you need.
Here’s an overview of 23andMe’s DNA tests and what you’ll get:
The basic ancestry kit from 23andMe includes ancestry reports, including where your ancestors originated and how they migrated across the globe.
You’ll also get reports on various traits that affect your appearance, taste, smell, and other things that comprise your unique genetic makeup.
This test has everything that the 23andMe ancestry test offers. However, you’ll also get a comprehensive health report that includes your:
The kit also checks for wellness traits that influence your health and lifestyle, such as your muscle composition and lactose intolerance.
This includes the 23andMe Health + Ancestry kit (plus all the reports that come with it) and a one-year membership to the DNA testing service.
Signing up for 23andMe+ gives you access to updated reports and new features you wouldn’t normally get if you simply purchased their kits.
You’ll also get additional reports on 20+ health risks, four wellness traits, and a pharmacogenetics report on genes that affect your metabolism of certain drugs.
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I personally went with the 23andMe Health + Traits kit and received comprehensive reports on my ancestry, health, and other genetic traits.
Here’s what they look like:
23andMe uses your DNA samples to look for insights into your genetic genealogy. This information is compiled into four separate reports, namely:
You’ll get a total of 50+ genetic ancestry reports which you can find in the Ancestry section.
The report gives you a comprehensive ancestry breakdown by telling you where your ancestors may have lived for the past five to ten generations.
You can access this information on the 23andMe website through Ancestry > Ancestry Composition. Here is my ancestry composition report:
23andMe says my ancestry is 100% European. My report further breaks down the regions and subregions my ancestors likely originated from within Europe.
For example, my results showed 50.1% French and German ancestry.
If I click that region, I can see the places with similar DNA as my recent ancestors–like the Netherlands, Germany, etc.
This report shows you the migration routes of your ancestors from up to 50,000 years ago. This includes ancestors from your maternal and/or paternal lines.
23andMe does this by testing your mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA).
Below is a report on my maternal haplogroups. You can access it by going to Ancestry > Ancestry Overview > Maternal Haplogroup > View Your Report.
Meanwhile, this is what my paternal haplogroups look like. You can see it on Ancestry > Ancestry Overview > Maternal Haplogroup > View Your Report.
These two reports tell separate stories of my ancestral origins and migration routes of my maternal and paternal lines.
They even include fun historical tidbits, like my maternal haplogroup being common in several European royal houses.
It was interesting to learn more about my family history. But you should remember that haplogroup reports will vary for men and women.
Men will receive full reports on their maternal and paternal lineages. Women only get a report on their maternal haplogroup.
If you’re born female, you can gain insights on your paternal haplogroup if you have a male relative that’s been previously tested by 23andMe.
This is because while men and women inherit their mtDNA from female ancestors, only men get their Y-DNA from male ancestors.
In this report, you’ll find out how much Neanderthal DNA you have. 23andMe also shows how your results compare to most people who have taken the test.
For example, I have more Neanderthal DNA than 32% of 23andMe customers. I also have less than 2% Neanderthal DNA in comparison.
You can access this information by going to Ancestry > Ancestry Overview > Neanderthal Ancestry > View Your Report.
Most people have an average of 2.5% Neanderthal DNA. People with a higher percentage of this gene may have more body hair or shorter stature.
Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were prehistoric humans who interbred with modern humans (Homo sapiens) before disappearing 40,000 years ago.
Though Neanderthals were like modern humans in many ways, they had bigger brains and muscles.
23andMe is the only at-home DNA testing kit approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test for genetic risks that you or a future child may have.
The health and traits section includes reports on your:
You will receive a total of 55+ health reports and eight wellness reports. This section also covers 30+ genetic traits that make up who you are.
As of 2022, 23andMe has three FDA (510)k clearances and five “de novo” authorizations to provide health reports.
23andMe tests for genetic variants linked to disease. This report tells you which variants you have and whether you’re at increased risk of developing them.
You will receive over 10+ health reports on the following health risks:
Some of these health reports (like prostate cancer) are exclusive to men. There are also reports (like ovarian cancer) limited to female test-takers.
Below is a snapshot of my health predisposition reports. You can find it through Health & Traits > Health Predisposition.
My report says I have genes linked to age-related macular degeneration and hereditary hemochromatosis. However, the report also tells me these genes are not enough to put me at risk.
You can click on each condition to learn how it affects your health and which genetic mutations they’re associated with.
Here’s what I see when I click on one of them:
Keep in mind that having a genetic health risk doesn’t guarantee you will develop a health problem.
Unhealthy lifestyles–such as poor diet and lack of exercise–may also put you at risk for some diseases, even if you don’t have the genes they’re associated with.
The test simply identifies health conditions that you may be at risk for based on your genetic information. It isn’t meant to diagnose actual illnesses.
If you have genetic health risks, you should talk to a doctor. A doctor can assess your health and give you instructions and guidelines to reduce or prevent health risks.
Not all genetic mutations will directly affect your health. You can carry them in your DNA and pass them on to your future offspring.
A carrier status report tells you whether or not you have genes that may cause health problems in your children.
23andMe can test your carrier status for 45 diseases, including:
You can find all 45 reports through Health & Traits > Carrier Status. Here’s a snapshot of my carrier status page:
If you’re a carrier for a particular disease, talk to a licensed doctor or a genetic counselor.
Your wellness reports feature genetic traits related to your health and lifestyle. You’ll get a total of eight wellness reports. Some of these include:
Here’s a snapshot of my wellness page. You can view it on Health & Traits > Wellness.
Your results may not surprise you, but it’s quite interesting to know their genetic cause. If you want to investigate each trait, you can click on the reports.
The trait reports provide insights into your unique features and characteristics.
Here, you’ll learn some fun-to-know facts about yourself that you probably didn’t know were genetic, like:
You can get up to 37 trait reports, depending if you’re male or female. Some of these reports (like your risk for early hair loss and bald spots) are for men only.
This is no doubt the most fun report I received from 23andMe. It’s largely a novelty feature. But it’s a great way to explore which strange traits you have.
Here’s a snapshot of my trait reports. You can access your report by going to Health & Traits > Traits.
The DNA service offers these features as well, depending on your membership and the kit you purchased:
This report is exclusive to 23andMe+ members. It shows you how your body might react to certain medications, including:
Many of these drugs are used to treat depression and cancer. They’re also used to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
It’s an optional feature you can get with 23andMe kits. If you decide to opt-in, 23andMe will find your DNA matches across its 12 million users.
People who sign up for 23andMe+ can use enhanced ancestry features, which include advanced filtering and access to 5,000 more DNA relatives.
You’ll receive email alerts about possible connections and how they might be related to you. You can view these connections as a list, a family tree, or a map.
You can see your possible relatives or family connections under Ancestry > DNA Relatives. Or you can go directly to the Family & Friends tab.
This feature is available to anyone who buys a 23andMe test. But you can only access it if you enable DNA matches.
It automatically creates your family tree using your DNA matches and by comparing your DNA with others who have also taken the test.
There’s an option to add relatives manually to your 23andMe family tree.
The 23andMe family tree builder can show your connection to close family members, such as your parents and siblings–up until your third cousins.
Another advantage of 23andMe is the ability to download your raw genetic data.
Your raw DNA contains a series of numbers and letters. These combinations represent all the genetic variants and mutations you tested for.
While other DNA companies use proprietary names for these variants that make them difficult to identify, 23andMe uses rsID numbers.
Reference Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Cluster ID (rsID) is the standard naming convention used for most genetic variants.
This means you can do your own genetic research and look up your variants in studies and comprehensive databases like SNPedia.
However, there are other things you can do with your genetic data, such as:
Since 23andMe offers different tests, there is no simple way to answer this. So we looked into the accuracy of each test:
23andMe is highly accurate for determining ancestry composition. It has “precision and recall values” of 80 to more than 90% for most people.1
High precision means that 23andMe has great confidence in its ability to identify DNA segments that match the company’s reference populations.1
When it comes to identifying recent ancestors and where they lived, 23andMe can provide test results with a confidence level of up to 80%.2
23andMe is “extremely confident” in locating your DNA relatives.2 But it can only predict your relationship based on the information it has.
Its accuracy will depend on the number of biological relatives in 23andMe’s database. You’ll get better accuracy if more family members take the test.
Both the Genetic Health Risks and Carrier Status Reports from 23andMe meet FDA standards for “analytical and clinical validity.”
Its health reports have >99% accuracy in identifying genetic markers linked to the increased risk of certain diseases. Though it has its limitations.2
Health conditions may be associated with thousands of genetic mutations, and 23andMe only tests for a few of them.
So if you have a genetic variant that the company isn’t testing for, you can still have that genetic risk.
For example, 23andMe can assess your risk of developing breast cancer and other cancers by checking for three variants in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
But there are other variants linked to cancer that 23andMe may not be able to identify.
23andMe protects your privacy in three ways:
I took the time to read the company’s policies on privacy and data protection. Here’s a summary of what I found:
To help protect your privacy, 23andMe also lets you control the information shown to your genetic matches in the DNA Relative Finder.
For example, you can choose to display your full name or initials to other 23andMe members. Alternatively, you can use a pseudonym.3
If you hide your name, your DNA matches will have to send you an exchange request. You can only send to or receive messages from people you add as a connection.
The DNA testing company works with pharmaceutical companies and researchers to develop treatments and study certain conditions.
You can decide whether or not to share your data, join clinical trials, and take part in surveys. If you decide to participate, 23andMe will de-identify your data.
This prevents researchers from connecting your name and other identifiable information to your data.
23andMe won’t share your data with insurance companies, employers, and law enforcement without your consent and unless required by law.
In fact, 23andMe received 11 requests for the personal information of 15 members as of October 2022–but has not released this data.4
23andMe has General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, which is currently the “toughest privacy and security law” in the world.5,6
This means 23andMe meets the data protection standards of European countries and that consumers who take the test are protected by law.
In the U.S., 23andMe does not need to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAAA) since it isn’t a medical test.
Still, it follows state regulations on privacy and disclosing personal information.
23andMe also received various certifications for its Information Security Management System (ISMS), such as ISO/IEC 27001:2013, 27018, and 27701.7
This suggests that 23andMe has adequate security measures to protect your data from unauthorized access, like hacking or a data breach.
A DNA test kit from 23andMe costs $99 to $199. It depends on which test you’re buying and if you’re signing up for a membership upfront.
23andMe offers $30 off on the Health + Ancestry test if you get a one-year membership upfront. So instead of $228 you only have to pay $198.
You’ll get the same saliva collection kit no matter which test you order. Here’s what you get with your 23andMe test kit:
First, you’ll have to order a DNA test. You can buy one from the 23andMe website or through Amazon, although the latter runs out of stock sometimes.
Once you receive your kit, open the package and follow these steps:
23andMe combines autosomal DNA testing with Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. This allows the company to provide comprehensive ancestry results.
Your 23andMe kit should arrive within three to five days of purchasing it online. But you can get it faster if you opt for express delivery.
23andMe DNA results are usually ready in four to six weeks from when a sample arrives at the laboratory.
You can’t go wrong with Ancestry if you want to know more about your ancestors or find people you may be related to.
Compared to 23andMe and its 12 million users, AncestryDNA has a much larger database (22 million) that gives you better chances of finding genetic matches.
Ancestry also provides access to billions of historical records for an added fee. It’s a great option if you want to dig deeper into your family history.
That said, 23andMe is better for tracing maternal and paternal lines. It’s also the only company to offer FDA-cleared genetic health tests.
While Ancestry tests for a few health-related traits–like genes that affect your nutrition and physical fitness–it’s not quite as robust as 23andMe’s health tests.
Both companies have ancestry and health tests. But LivingDNA lets you buy these tests separately and for a more affordable price.
LivingDNA also has unique DNA reports and actionable steps. For example:
Unfortunately, LivingDNA only compares your DNA with 150 regions. If most of your ancestors are from outside these places, you may not get reliable results.
Here is our LivingDNA review if you want to learn more.
MyHeritage has a smaller database than 23andMe with only 6.6 million users. But it has a few advantages, including:
However, MyHeritage isn’t accurate for everyone. It also can’t provide you with in-depth results like 23andMe.
And while it can test for your risks and carrier status for some genetic diseases, you have to purchase the service as an add-on to the ancestry test.
This service also doesn’t have clearance from the FDA to give you these health reports, unlike 23andMe’s offering.
You can find out more by reading our MyHeritage review.
Family Tree DNA offers unique services, including separate tests for maternal and paternal ancestry, as well as a combined kit for family ancestry.
It can also test for variants that affect your health. Depending on your results, it suggests DNA-based meal plans and workouts to improve your wellness.
Sadly, Family Tree has a much smaller database and may not give you accurate results like 23andMe. Read our Family Tree DNA review for more information.
We evaluate at-home DNA tests like 23andMe based on seven criteria:
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A reputable DNA testing company is transparent about the services it offers. Some important details that should be publicly available are:
A reliable company also lives up to its claims. For example, if they say that your results will arrive in five weeks, then it shouldn’t take longer than that.
We looked up DNA testing companies and what customers are saying about them so we could get a better feel of whether or not people trusted them.
23andMe is transparent about its testing process, the tests it offers, and the reports you will get with each test.
But there are consistent complaints of kits and test results arriving late for buyers from outside the U.S. or packages getting lost in transit–among others.
Despite its shortcomings, 23andMe remains one of the most trusted DNA companies.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Most DNA companies have a range of genetic tests. The type and depth of information they provide depend on the test and the provider.
Finding a useful test is subjective and entirely up to you. In general, you should buy a kit that gives you the results you’re looking for.
23andMe is a good option if you want to know your mother’s and father’s ancestry. If you take the health test, it can identify diseases that you and your child might be at risk for.
While it gives you valuable insights into these diseases, it doesn’t tell you what to do about them. You’ll have to take these results to a doctor or a genetic counselor who can offer professional advice and guidance on the next steps.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Apart from your test results, companies may provide access to features that will help you learn more about your ancestry, expand your family tree, and so on.
We took tests from different DNA testing services to see what features they offered and compared them with others.
23andMe can use your results to build your family tree and find potential relatives in its database. The company also lets you download your raw DNA.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you the option to upload your data or provide access to records that might be useful for investigating your family history.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Several factors affect the accuracy of DNA tests. Some of them include the:
We found that the most accurate DNA tests have large databases, a greater variety of reference populations, and more regions to compare your results with.
23andMe has the second largest database next to Ancestry DNA. It compares your genetic profile to its 12,000+ members and reference panels from more than 2,000 global regions to uncover your ancestry.
Samples are analyzed in laboratories certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP).8
This ensures the accuracy and reliability of 23andMe’s results.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Most private DNA tests comply with the latest data privacy standards. If there are changes in their privacy policies, they will let you know.
They’ll also give you full control over your data and always ask for your consent on what to do with it.
23andMe has taken extra measures to ensure your privacy. For starters, you’ll have complete control of your data and be able to download and delete it.
The company won’t share your details (not even with law enforcement) without your consent or a court order. Plus, 23andMe has GDPR compliance and various ISO certifications.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
At-home tests are meant to be convenient. From the moment you buy a kit up until the moment you send your samples–the process should be easy.
You can order tests on 23andMe’s website using a wide range of payment methods. Your package will include a prepaid shipping box so you can conveniently send back your samples.
Taking the test is just as simple. The instructions are printed out for you, but there’s also a video on how to collect your saliva sample.
Our 23andMe Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The best DNA tests give you your money’s worth. They should be priced reasonably, depending on the reports they offer.
While features are sometimes hidden behind a paywall, they should still be affordable.
You might also want to consider buying a test covered by your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spendings Account (FSA).
23andMe has some of the most affordable tests in the market. You can access most of its features just by buying a kit. Membership is affordable, and you can use your HSA or FSA to cover a portion of the costs.9
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