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23andMe Review 2021: What This DNA Test REALLY Reveals

Our score:
9.6
User score:
9.6

Expert opinion:

Ancestry, haplogroup migration, paternal and maternal lineage, genetic predictions, health reports, and traits. That's a lot of information from two simple saliva tests! Are 23andMe's results interesting, informative, and accurate? Is it good value for money? Can it match you with your relations? I put it to the test to find out.
Written by Gemma Davison
Last updated on October 6, 2021
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness
Written by Gemma Davison on October 6, 2021
  • Ancestry
  • Health & Wellness

The DNA tests from 23andMe promise to provide a comprehensive ancestry breakdown as well as a complete picture of your genetic health and wellness, all from a saliva sample.

How does 23andMe dig deeper into your ancestry?

By comparing your DNA to that from over 2,000 reference populations – in some cases right down to the country level – 23andMe can give you an accurate estimate of your heritage.

Plus, if you’re interested in the migration patterns of your more ancient ancestors, 23andMe also analyzes mtDNA and Y-DNA to discover the movements of your maternal and paternal lineages respectively.

What about health?

Your DNA is analyzed for numerous genetic variants that are linked to an increased risk of certain diseases and congenital conditions that can be passed to your children. We looked closely at the features offered, results reports, pricing, support, and more.

The only way to determine if 23andMe could live up to its claims was for me to take the test and find out.

Overall, the ancestry and health tests from 23andMe are a great choice if you’re looking to learn more about your heritage, sub-regional ancestry, and to evaluate your genetic risk for several health conditions.

Plus, you’ll also get DNA matches, wellness reports and insights, and genetic predictions on over 30 physical and sensory traits.

Discover Your Origins with 23andMe!

Cheap Ancestry DNA Test!
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Get the great value-for-money 23andMe Ancestry + Traits DNA test for just $99, plus FREE shipping. Learn your ethnic and geographical origins and discover your predispositions for a number of interesting traits.

Two Kits that Do It All

23andMe offers two DNA testing options, an Ancestry + Traits test, and a Health + Ancestry test, the latter of which I took myself for the purposes of this review.

As well as the UK and US, 23andMe ships to an additional 50 countries, including across Europe and several Asia Pacific countries.

23andMe DNA Kit

The DNA tests from 23andMe analyze your DNA to discover your ancestry, find potential relatives through DNA matching, your predisposition to certain traits, and your genetic risk and carrier status for several health conditions.

23andMe also has a membership that includes everything from the Health + Ancestry Kit, plus access to exclusive reports and enhanced ancestry features.

The comparison table below should help you decide which 23andMe service is right for you.

Ancestry + Traits Health + Ancestry 23andMe+ Membership
Total Reports 80+ 150+ 160+
Ancestry Reports
DNA Matches
Automatic Family Tree Builder
Enhanced Ancestry Features
Genetic Risk Reports
Carrier Status
Wellness Reports
Family Health History Tree
Pharmocogenetics Reports
Trait Reports
Ongoing new reports & Features

Your Saliva Holds the Key

So you know what to expect from the DNA testing process with 23andMe, I ordered the Health + Ancestry test and was pleased that it arrived in less than a week.

The at-home DNA test kit contains a saliva collection tube with stabilizing fluid, a baggy with a cotton pad to secure your sample, and an instruction booklet.

23andMe Saliva Collection Kit

Before collecting your saliva, you’re reminded to register your kit by heading to the 23andMe website to enter your kit’s unique code and create an account. This allows the lab to determine who the DNA sample belongs to and to post updates on your kit’s progress via your account and email.

The instruction pamphlet makes collecting your samples easy. Just be sure to bear in mind that you’re not to eat, drink, or chew gum for 30 minutes before taking the test to ensure the best quality sample.

Personally, I didn’t particularly enjoy spitting into the collection tube over and over, and it certainly isn’t as quick as swabbing the cheeks as you do with the MyHeritage ancestry test. However, within 5 minutes I had filled the saliva collection tube to the level required, even if I did have a dry mouth at the end of it.

All that’s left to do is stabilize your sample with the vial of fluid provided, and you’re ready to send it to the lab. You ship your sample in the box the kit came in, saving on waste, and shipping is already paid. I simply had to pop it in my nearest postbox and wait for my results to be ready, which takes between 4-6 weeks.

Order Ancestry Tests from 23andMe Today!

5 Standout Features of 23andMe

Ancestry Composition

Your results from 23andMe include an Ancestry Composition, which is a list of your population percentages arranged in a hierarchy from continental to the regional level. This includes a percentage breakdown of the ethnicities that make up your heritage.

To determine your ancestral breakdown, 23andMe uses an algorithm that analyzes short pieces of DNA that are compared to reference populations made up of thousands of individuals with known ancestry of 45 individual regions and ethnicities.

23andMe Ancestry Composition

My Ancestry Compositions show that I am 99.3% European with the remaining 0.6% being Sudanese and North African. The majority of my heritage is British & Irish, with some Scandanavian in there too.

Select any of your ethnicities from the interactive color-coded map to learn more about that particular heritage, how the genetic signature has found its way into your DNA, and DNA matches that share the ethnicity. You can also discover some extensive historical and cultural information, which is great for history buffs.

"3andMe Ethnicity Estiate Information

Dig a little deeper into your report and you can discover your recent ancestry from the last 200 years that can pinpoint your origins at the sub-regional level. They do this by comparing your DNA to that from over 2,000 reference populations, consisting of 400,000 samples.

To be assigned a recent ancestor location, you must share identical DNA segments with groups of people with known ancestry from that location. Your regional ancestry locations are arranged by the strength of probability of recent ancestry. As the research advances and the sample size of the reference groups increases, more regions may be added to your ancestry breakdown in the future.

Maternal and Paternal Haplogroups

The 23andMe haplogroup reports can shed light on the origins and migrations of your ancestors going back tens of thousands of years. Your maternal haplogroup tells you about your maternal-line ancestors and is inherited from your mother’s mtDNA. If you’re male, your paternal haplogroup tells you about your paternal-line ancestors and is inherited from father to son from Y-DNA.

As humans spread out geographically it was reflected in variations in mtDNA and Y-DNA, and by looking at the pattern of variants in present-day populations, they can be used to trace human genetic and migration history. How fascinating!

23andMe Maternal Haplogroup Report

Everyone can trace their maternal ancestry to a single woman who lived between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago, but with maternal and paternal haplogroups you can trace your ancestry to a more recent common ancestor. For example, my maternal haplogroup is H, which indicates I’m descended from a woman who lived in the Middle East 18,000 years ago.

Neanderthal DNA

Neanderthals were prehistoric humans who interbred with modern humans, before becoming extinct around 40,000 years ago, but a part of them still remains…in our DNA.

Research suggests that 1-2% of the DNA of all modern humans with Asian, Native American or European ancestry is Neanderthal in origin. You can find out just how much you have with 23andMe’s detailed Neanderthal ancestry report.

23andMe Neanderthal DNA

My Neanderthal report showed that I have about 2% Neanderthal DNA, which equates to 242 gene variants out of the 7,462 tested. The report also includes:

  • How your level of Neanderthal DNA compares with other 23andMe customers
  • Traits associated with your Neanderthal DNA variants, such as your likelihood to have a fear of heights
  • Lots of interesting facts about Neanderthals, including what they looked like and how intelligent they were

Find out how much Neanderthal DNA You’ve Got With 23andMe!

DNA Matches

Following analysis of your DNA, 23andMe searches for users in their database with DNA segments that match yours. You’ll discover the percentage of DNA you share with your matches, which is used to form an estimate on how you’re related.

23andMe DNA Matches

My DNA matches indicated that there are currently 1,500 people in the 23andMe database that I share DNA with.

Inspect each match more closely to discover where on your chromosomes you share DNA, where they fit on your family tree, how their ancestry breakdown compares with yours, relatives you have in common, their haplogroups, and proportion of Neanderthal DNA. You can also contact your DNA matches and potentially learn more about your shared heritage.

23andMe Family Tree

Your close DNA matches are automatically added to your family tree based on your estimated relationship. The family tree builder is free and very easy to use, with a simple input method.

23andMe has recently launched a new tool for Health + Ancestry service customers in the US and Canada, called the Family Health History Tree. It presents as a regular family tree but includes the ability to include important medical conditions, giving you a visual record of past and current health issues for you and your close relatives. This may help you understand more about your own health and the health of your children.

It’s not quite as sophisticated as those offered by Ancestry and MyHeritage, which also provide access to vast historical databases, but 23andMe’s family tree builder does provide a good starting point for your genealogy journey.

Health & Traits

Included in the Health + Ancestry test from 23andMe are 100 personalized health and traits reports through which you’ll learn how your DNA can affect your chances of developing certain health conditions, your carrier status for congenital diseases, several wellness reporters, as well as, how your genes influence certain physical, sense, and weird and wonderful traits.

23andMe DNA Health Report Categories

Health Predisposition reports are currently available for 14 conditions including Celiac disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer. By knowing your risk level, you can access your personalized Health Action Plan to discover what steps you can take to mitigate your risk.

23andMe Health Predisposition Report

By screening for certain genetic variants in my DNA, my Health Predisposition report indicates that I have a slightly increased risk of both Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Each individual report provides more information including what gene variant I have, how this variant may be present in your family members, lifestyle factors that also affect your risk, and more.

You’ll also get Carrier Status reports for 44 congenital conditions to see if you have genetic variants that can be passed on to your children. If you’re planning on starting a family, carrier testing can tell you your risk of passing on Canavan disease, Bloom syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and much more.

But that’s not all! 23andMe also provides 8 wellness reports, which help you discover how your body responds to diet, exercise, and sleep. For example, my results found that I’m likely to consume more caffeine and I’m predisposed to weigh less than average.

23andMe Genetic Weight Wellness Report

In each wellness report, you’ll learn how the result was calculated and what habits and lifestyle changes you can adopt based on your genetics, as well as the scientific evidence that has led to these conclusions.

Then there are the 34 trait reports, which explore the genetics behind your appearance and senses, including the likes of cheek dimples, earlobe type, hair texture, newborn hair, bunions, and even wake-up time.

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Reading Your Results

In the instruction pamphlet, it states that it can take between 4 and  6 weeks to receive your results. Through my online account, I received email notifications when my sample was received by the lab, when the lab was genotyping my DNA, when the team was reviewing my genetic data, and when my results reports were ready. From shipping off my sample, it took a little over 5 weeks later that I received my results.

Ancestry Reports

When signing in to my online account it’s easy to navigate to your chosen reports. I started with the ancestry reports and my Ancestry Composition, which shows me a percentage breakdown of my ethnicities, along with my sub-regional ancestry.

23andMe Ethnicity Estimate

I was expecting British and Irish, and Scandinavian ancestry from what I know about my family history, but the real surprise was the North African and Sudanese trace ancestry, which chromosome painting revealed was found on my 1st and 5th chromosome, and X-chromosome respectively.

This trace ancestry can be picked up by 23andMe as they can calculate ancestry percentages down to the 0.1%, which is very impressive.

23andMe Chromosome Painting

The color-coded map is a great visual representation of my heritage, but it would have been nice if the map was a little more interactive. However, I was impressed with the wealth of information 23andMe provides on each of your ethnicities, ranging from major historical events, migration patterns, and culture.

Scroll a little further down your ancestry report and you’ll discover your ancestry timeline, which is a novel feature I’ve not seen anywhere else. It shows how many years ago my most recent ancestor from each ethnicity was alive. I had no idea that I have a fairly recent ancestor that is likely to be 100% Scandinavian.

23andMe Ancestry Timeline

23andMe dig deeper into your heritage with sub-regional ancestry, which indicated that I’m in 20 genetic communities both in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where my ancestors may have lived in the last 200 years.

They are arranged by the strength of likely ancestry from strongest to weakest. Being able to trace ancestry down to the county level in areas as small as Dublin or Tyne and Wear is extremely impressive.

23andMe Sub-Regional Ancestry Map

Now to go back a little further in time. Analysis of my mtDNA revealed that my haplogroup is H, which provides clues on where my ancestors lived and migrated going back tens of thousands of years.

The common ancestor of haplogroup H likely lived in the Middle East 18,000 years ago, with her descendants spreading across Europe, as well as migrating to southern Asia and the fringes of Western Siberia.

23andMe Maternal Haplogroups

Your haplogroup ancestry report also contains a lot of interesting additional information, including:

  • How common your haplogroup is amongst 23andMe users
  • Historical figures who share your haplogroup – Marie Antoinette shares mine
  • How 23andMe determined migration patterns
  • The process of maternal (and if relevant paternal) inheritance

It is unfortunate that I can’t discover my paternal haplogroup myself as I don’t have a Y-chromosome and therefore no Y-DNA. However, I could learn the migration patterns of my paternal line if my Dad (or another close male relative) took the ancestry test and connected with me via DNA relatives.

One of my favorite parts of my ancestry results is the Neanderthal DNA report. It tells you how much of your DNA can be traced back to before Neanderthals went extinct 40,000 years ago. It’s fascinating to know that gene variants from prehistoric humans can be detected in my DNA.

23andMe Neanderthal DNA Report

Most people of European or Asian descent are part caveman, and I’m no exception being 2% Neanderthal, with my 242 variants giving me more Neanderthal DNA than 55% of other 23andMe customers.

The report also highlights how Neanderthal DNA may influence your traits. For example, I have five genetic variants associated with being a better sprinter than a distance runner, one variant associated with having a worse sense of direction (so true), and one variant associated with being less likely to have a fear of heights.

Overall, I was really happy with my ancestry results from 23andMe. Not only do you get a detailed breakdown of your ancestry right down to the county level, but also added extras including chromosome painting, a Neanderthal DNA report, and maternal (and if you’re male) paternal haplogroups to discover the migrations and origins of your ancient ancestors.

DNA Matches

Returning to the ancestry dashboard, you can see an overview of your DNA matches and your estimated relationships. My results revealed I have 1,500 DNA matches, all of which are 3-4th cousins. Click through to a complete list of your matches compiled from 23andMe’s DNA database of over 12 million samples.

I really liked the map feature of the report, which showed how some of my DNA Matches were located across the globe. It was surprising to see I had distant relatives as far away as Alaska and Australia. Zoom in on any location on the map to see the details of your matches in any one place, and learn more about individual relatives.

23andMe DNA Matches Map

Select any of your DNA matches and you’ll get detailed information on how you and that match are connected. Insights include:

  • Your predicted genetic relationship
  • Where on your chromosomes you share DNA
  • Where they are likely to fit into your family tree
  • A comparison of your ancestry compositions, haplogroups, and Neanderthal ancestry
  • Your common relatives.

Health & Traits Reports

Now onto the health and traits section of the results, which is pretty extensive, so like me, it may take you some time to go through, but with 100 reports, you’ll certainly gain some interesting insights.

23andMe Health Report Tutorial

Before you can view your health results, you’re required to read through some learning information – such as a carrier status and BRCA gene – so you know what your reports mean, as well as understanding that your 23andMe results don’t provide a medical diagnosis.

To understand the main points of your health reports at a glance, select Health Highlights. This will show you the findings that could impact you or your family’s health.

23andMe Healt Highlights

My Health Highlights indicated that I have a slightly increased risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, plus a genetic variant associated with Hereditary Hemochromatosis, but it’s not likely to increase my risk.

By selecting one of your health highlights, you can learn more about what associated genetic variants were discovered during the analysis of your DNA.

23andMe Late-Onset Alzheimer's Report

For example, by selecting my Late-Onset Alzheimer’s report, I’m informed that I have one variant in the APOE gene that research has shown is associated with a slightly increased risk of developing the disease. Additional information in the report includes:

  • My percentage chance of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s by age 75 and by age 85.
  • Detailed information and other factors that influence the chances of developing the condition, including age, sex, heart health, family history, intellectual activity, and more.
  • The typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s and treatment options.

By selecting ‘Scientific Details’, you learn more about the gene analyzed and its function, as well as what variant was discovered. In my case, I have the C variant of the APOE gene, but it can’t be determined which parent I inherited from.

If you’re concerned about your health results, you can access your Personalized Action Plan, which provides additional information, asks questions about your lifestyle factors, and what questions to ask your doctor. Plus you’ll get advice on steps you can take to potentially reduce your risk, such as in the case of Alzheimer’s, schedule a time in the day for brain-engaging activity and improving your sleep.

23andMe Health Action Plan

Heading back to the Health Dashboard, I can select my 44 Carrier Status reports. From my health highlights, I already knew that I was a carrier for one gene variant linked to one of the congenital conditions 23andMe screen for – Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your results don’t include all possible variants associated with each condition.

23andMe Carrier Status Report

Selecting the Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency report informed me which gene variant I carry, symptoms of the condition, the chances of me passing it on to my children, and treatment options. Plus you can view a report of the science behind the results, which is written in accessible language, making it easy to understand.

If carrier screening shows you do possess gene variants that can result in congenital conditions in your offspring, you’re provided guidance on what to do next, such as talking to a genetic counselor or connect with support groups. I found testing positive for a carrier gene brought home to me the importance of carrier testing when you’re considering starting a family.

The health insights don’t end there, 23andMe also provides eight wellness reports to find out how your genetics may influence your body’s response to exercise, diet, and sleep. My wellness reports indicated that I’m less likely to be lactose intolerant, likely to consume more caffeine, predisposed to weigh less than average, and more.

23andMe Wellness Reports

You can discover more about your wellness traits by selecting individual reports. Included in each wellness report are actionable lifestyle insights, which can help make the biggest difference based on your genetics. For example in my genetic weight report, I’m advised to:

  • Limit my red meat intake, which is associated with weighing up to 12.3% less
  • Avoid eating fast food, which is associated with weighing up to 11% less
  • Sleep a healthy amount, which is associated with weighing up to 11.1% less
  • And more…

Now on to the fun part of my health results…the 34 traits reports which show how my genetics may influence my appearance and senses. With 23anMe’s traits, discover how your genetics predict your hair color and type, eye color, skin pigmentation, ear lobe type, phobias, mosquito bite frequency, and even if I’m likely to hate the sound of people chewing.

It was really interesting and fun to look over all the reports to see where 23andMe got it right, and where they got it a little bit wrong. Clicking on each individual trait report gives you plenty of information on how 23andMe made the prediction, the genes involved, and more.

For example, when it came to toe length ratio, 23andMe was correct with their prediction I would have a longer second toe. My second toe (and even my third toe) is longer than my big toe. Also, as predicted, I don’t get dandruff or have a cleft chin, and I’m not afraid of heights or public speaking.

23andMe Traits

However, they didn’t predict all my traits correctly. According to my genes, I’m most likely to have dark brown eyes with 27%, when in fact I have green eyes, which was predicted at just 9%. Plus, I don’t prefer salty over sweet (I have a notorious sweet tooth) and I don’t have very fair skin or stretch marks.

In the health section of the results report, I appreciated that you have control over what information you would like to see and choose to exclude certain reports, such as Late-Onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and more.

It shows that 23andMe recognizes that whether you want to learn about these risks is a personal choice. If you do choose to exclude certain reports, you can always include them at a later date from within your account settings.

That’s my complete results from 23andMe and I have to say that although there is a great deal of information to go through. I did learn a great deal about myself – about my heritage, health risks to watch out for, and how my genes influence how I look.

Get Ancestry + Health Insights with 23andMe!

A Higher Priced Kit, But You Get What You Pay For!

Health & Wellness
kit
Health + Ancestry
  • Explore your genetic disease risk, carrier risk
  • See how your DNA affects diet, exercise, sleep
  • Get a personalized health action plan

Both the Ancestry + Traits and Health + Ancestry DNA kits from 23andMe are slightly more expensive than their competitors at $99.00 and $199.00 respectively. However, I’d say you get excellent value-for-money considering the amount of information your get for your money.

If you’ve purchased the Ancestry + Traits Kit, you can upgrade to health reports at any time for a one-time fee of $125, without needing to order another test or submitting another sample. This is on a par with the health upgrade offered byMyHeritage, but you do get screening for more conditions as well as wellness reports.

Unfortunately, unlike MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA there is currently no option to upload existing DNA samples for low-cost insights or free DNA matches.

Starting a family tree is free with 23andMe with no subscription costs like those from Ancestry or Findmypast. However, there is no 23andMe database of historical records, so you’re limited to your personal knowledge and your DNA matches.

23andMe also have a membership which costs $199, plus $29/year. It includes everything you get from the Health + Traits kit, as well as additional ancestry insights, 10 additional premium health reports a year, regular updates, and pharmacogenomics reports, which show how your gene variants may influence how you process certain medication.

The low yearly fee provides great value for money, particularly if you’re interested in your genetic health risk, and want to know if certain medications are right for you.

You can pay for your 23andMe kits in your local currency via Paypal, all major credit cards, Apple Pay, and pre-paid credit or gift cards from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

Buy DNA Kits from 23andMe Today!

Cheap Ancestry DNA Test!
Pay Just $99 Today + FREE Shipping!
Get the great value-for-money 23andMe Ancestry + Traits DNA test for just $99, plus FREE shipping. Learn your ethnic and geographical origins and discover your predispositions for a number of interesting traits.

Great All-Around Customer Support

The customer support center includes a set of support pages and frequently asked questions, which cover a wide range of topics. If these don’t answer all your questions you can contact 23andMe directly via email, telephone, or live chat.

23andMe Customer Support Center

I tested out telephone support first which operates Monday to Friday 3 am – 8 pm PT and Saturday and Sunday 8 am – 4 pm PT. I called midweek and was connected to an operator pretty quickly, who was friendly and knowledgeable about my inquiry into varied ethnicity estimates between providers.

Next up was email support. With other companies – including MyHeritage and Ancestry– I’ve been a little disappointed in the time it takes to respond to my emails. No such concerns with 23andMe. I received a response to my question about health report updates within just a few hours.

23andMe Email Customer Service

Finally, it was time to test out the live chat feature, unfortunately, at first, I was unable to connect to a live agent as I connected outside its operating hours of 9 am – 4 pm. However, I was able to use the chatbot feature that proved to be helpful when I asked about paternal haplogroups. When I was able to connect to a live chat agent they confirmed the answer the chatbot provided.

I have no complaints at all about 23andMe’s customer service. Both the website and the customer support agents covered every inquiry I had and more. I haven’t discovered many complaints from other 23andMe customers, with the exception of a few users who had issues with their saliva samples not containing enough DNA after multiple attempts.

If You Want Ancestry & Health Insights, You Want 23andMe

For health and ancestry insights, you can’t do much better than 23andMe.

With the Health + Ancestry test you get a breakdown of your ethnicity, insights on your sub-regional ancestry, your percentage of Neanderthal DNA, your ancient maternal and paternal ancestry, and DNA matches to those in the 23andMe database who share segments of your DNA.

You also get detailed health insights, including your genetic risks for a number of health conditions, as well as your carrier status for over 40 congenital conditions.

For some, the sheer volume of information you get in your DNA report may be overwhelming. Personally, I loved that the 23andMe ancestry and health reports were so extensive, as I have a real interest in DNA and how it holds genetic signatures of long-lost relatives and can provide clues into your future health risks.

The family tree software is not on par with some other providers, such as Findmypast or Ancestry, but it will give you a good start to your genealogy journey.

If you’re just interested in knowing your ethnicity estimate or exploring your family history, you might consider choosing AncestryDNA or MyHeritage.

Get Started with 23andMe Today!

FAQ

How accurate is 23andMe?

23andMe provides an estimate of your ancestry breakdown by comparing your DNA to one of the largest reference populations in the world. By dividing your genome into thousands of segments and estimating the ancestry of each one based on which population it most closely matches.

The highly precise algorithm is based on probabilities and therefore, very accurate, but the results are not always set in stone. Customers  can view their ancestry composition at 5 difference confidence thresholds – 50% (default), 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% (most conservative).

When it comes to DNA relatives, 23andMe is extremely confident in the percentage of shared DNA. However, the predicted relationship is just that, as some familial relationships involve similar percentages of shared DNA.

The Genetic Health Risk and Carrier Status reports meet FDA requirements for analytical and clinical validity. Each gene variant 23andMe test demonstrated 99% accuracy, however, it is important to understand the limitations. For example, there can be thousands of gene variants associated with a condition and not all are tested for. Plus, many conditions are influenced by lifestyle factors as well as genetics.

How do I take a 23andMe DNA test?

The DNA tests from 23andMe require a saliva sample, which involves spitting into a tube until you reach the required level. Spitting into a tube over and over may not seem like the most pleasant experience, but it takes less than five minutes, even if you tend to have a dry mouth as I do.

If the thought of spitting into a tube makes you a little squeamish, the ancestry DNA test from MyHeritage requires just a simple cheek swab, but you still need to avoid eating, drinking, or chewing gum for 30 minutes before taking the test.

How long does it take to get your 23andMe results?

23andMe claims your results will be ready in between 6-8 weeks after your registered sample is received by the lab. I received my results in just a little over 5 weeks and it was easy to keep up with the status of my sample with regular updates on the processing stage on my 23andMe profile homepage.

Can 23andMe detect and diagnose you with a disease?

No, 23andMe cannot diagnose any health condition. The health report can tell you if you possess gene variants that may increase your risk of developing certain diseases, or if you’re a carrier of gene variants for congenital conditions that can be passed to your children if your partner is also a carrier.

If you’re concerned about your DNA results and what they mean for your health, you should discuss your results with a doctor or genetic counselor, who can give you a better understanding of your risk.

I’m female; why didn’t I receive a paternal haplogroup?

Paternal haplogroups are identified by analyzing DNA on the Y-chromosome, which females don’t inherit. However, if you’re a female who really wants to know your paternal haplogroup, your brother or father can take the 23andMe ancestry test, which will reveal what group you belong to.

Who should consider taking a 23andMe test?

If you’re interested in learning detailed insights about your ancestry and/or health, you can’t beat 23andMe. The ancestry report covers many areas not included by other providers  – like MyHeritage and Ancestry – such as haplogroups and your Neanderthal ancestry. Plus, you’ll also discover how your genes predispose you to over 30 traits.

If you’re interested in learning your genetic risk for developing certain diseases or your carrier status for congenital conditions, 23andMe can tell you if you carry any gene variants associated with an increased risk. Plus, discover how your DNA may affect your sleep, diet, and exercise, with wellness reports.

The Health DNA test from 23andMe claims to be able to determine your genetic health risk by generating 100 personalized reports from a simple saliva sample.

How does it work?

Your DNA is analyzed for numerous genetic variants that are linked to an increased risk of certain diseases and congenital conditions that can be passed to your children. Plus you’ll also get several wellness reports, as well as information on how your genes influence certain traits.

Additionally, the health DNA test includes an ancestry report, which tells you your ethnicity estimate, as well as provides insights on your percentage of Neanderthal DNA, your ancient maternal and paternal ancestry, and your recent ancestry that can in some cases, be defined right down to county level.

To find out more about the health insights provided by 23andMe, I took the Health + Ancestry myself and looked closely at the features offered, result reports, pricing, support, and more.

Overall, the health DNA test from 23andMe is a great choice if you want to learn more about your genetic health risk and want to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Plus, the carrier testing section of the report can prove useful if you’re planning on starting a family, by determining your chances of passing on a congenital condition to your children.

Discover Your Genetic Health Risk with 23andMe!

Special Offer at 23andMe!
25% Off Health + Ancestry Kit!
Ready to learn more about your ancestry and genetic health risk? There has never been a better time with a 25% discount on the Health + Ancestry test from 23andMe! Pay just $149.99 today!

One DNA Kit, Over 100 Reports

23andMe has just one health DNA test, which I took myself for the purpose of this review.

By analyzing your DNA for certain genetic variants, 23andMe can determine your genetic risk and carrier status for over 60 conditions, as well as your predisposition for wellness factors and more than 30 genetic traits.

23andMe Health DNA Kit

For a little bit extra, 23andMe offers a membership, which includes everything from the Health + Ancestry Kit, plus exclusive reports and enhanced ancestry features.

Health + Ancestry 23andMe+ Membership
Total Reports 150+ 160+
Ancestry Reports
DNA Matches
Automatic Family Tree Builder
Enhanced Ancestry Features
Genetic Risk Reports
Carrier Status
Wellness Reports
Family Health History Tree
Pharmacogenetics Reports
Trait Reports
Ongoing new reports & Features

DNA kit from 23andMe ships to over 50 countries around the world, including the UK, US, several Asia Pacific countries, and across Europe. The kits can also be purchased through the 23andMe Amazon store.

A Saliva Sample is All You Need

I was surprised with the speed of delivery from 23andMe, with my Health + Ancestry DNA kit being delivered within a week of ordering.

The test kit contains all you need to collect a quality DNA sample at home, including a saliva collection tube plus stabilizing fluid, a sealable bag with a cotton pad to secure your sample, and an easy-to-follow instruction booklet.

23andMe Saliva Collection Kit

Remember to register your kit before collecting your sample, by creating an account on the 23andMe website and entering your kit’s unique code. This allows the lab to determine who the kit belongs to and deliver your results to your account. Plus, you’ll get regular updates on the progress of your kit, from your sample arriving at the lab, through DNA extraction, to completion.

You’re reminded not to eat, drink, or chew gum for at least 30 minutes before taking the test, to prevent contamination and ensure the best quality sample.

Spitting into a tube over and over until I reached the desired level wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but within 5 minutes the job was done, even if I did have a very dry mouth afterward.

Once I had stabilized my DNA with the vial of fluid provided, my sample was ready to ship back to the lab. It’s sent back with prepaid shipping in the box the kit arrived in – just pop it in the nearest postbox and expect your results in 4-6 weeks.

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5 Standout Features of 23andMe

Genetic Predisposition Reports and Health Action Plan

Genetic health predisposition reports are available for 14 common conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, chronic kidney disease, and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Each condition comes with an individual report, which tells you if you have posses any of the gene variants tested, as well as information on how the variants are represented in certain ethnicities, associated symptoms, lifestyle and other factors that affect your risk, and more.

23andMe Health Predisposition Report

If applicable, you’ll also get personalized tips in your Health Action Plan which is based on your genetics. It provides you with expert tips and recommendations. For example, I have a variant that increases my risk of vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration, so I’m advised to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, get a pair of UVA/UVB-blocking sunglasses, and add leafy greens, citrus fruits, and whole grains to my diet.

Carrier Status Reports for Congenital Conditions

Your Health Results from 23andMe include Carrier Status Reports for 45 congenital conditions to determine if you possess gene variants that may not affect your health, but could impact your children’s health.

If you’re planning on starting a family, carrier status can inform you of your risk of passing on GRACILE syndrome, hereditary fructose intolerance, Salla disease, sickle cell anemia, and more, to your children.

23andMe Carrier Status Reports Summary

If a variant is detected, in the report you’ll learn what this means for you and your children, how prevalent genetic variants are in certain ethnicities, typical signs and symptoms of the associated congenital condition, and how it is treated.

You should keep in mind that while 23andMe Carrier Status reports screen for many variants, they don’t cover all possible variants associated with each condition. Therefore, you may still be a carrier with a variation not included in the test.

If you’re concerned about your carrier status or are thinking of starting a family, 23andMe directs you towards trusted genetic counselors that can help you and your partner understand if additional testing is necessary. You can also easily share your reports with family or print them off to share with a healthcare professional. Plus, there is an option to learn more about the condition and connect with support groups.

Wellness Reports

Discover how your genetics influence how your body’s response to diet, exercise, and sleep with 23andMe’s eight wellness reports. For example, my reports indicated that I’m unlikely to experience the alcohol flush reaction, I’m predisposed to weigh less than average, and I have the muscle composition that is common in elite power athletes.

23andMe Wellness Reports Muscle Composition

In each wellness report, you’ll how the conclusion was reached and in some cases what lifestyle changes you can make to improve your outcome, based on your genetics. For example, I possess a genetic variant that predicts I’m less likely to be a deep sleeper, so to improve my quality of sleep I could address my worries, exercise during the day, and keep a consistent sleep time.

Discover What Makes You, You With Traits

Explore the genetics behind your appearances and senses with 34 trait reports. Ranging from eye color to taste preferences, and from phobias to photo sneeze reflex.

Your trait reports can tell you about your generics and other factors (such as age, sex, and ethnicity) that make you more or less likely to exhibit certain traits.

23andMe Trait Reports

However, just because you’re more likely to exhibit one trait than another, doesn’t mean you will definitely have it. This is because your genetics aren’t always your destiny and they are rarely the only factor that shapes your traits.

Having said that, my trait reports got it right more than they got it wrong. It’s true that I have an aversion to cilantro, have a bad sense of direction, get bitten by mosquitos more often, don’t have a cleft chin, and I’ve never had dandruff. However, genetics were not an accurate predictor of other traits – they got it wrong when it came to stretch marks, my preference of sweet or salty, and eye color.

Learn Where You Come From with Ancestry Insights

Along with your health report, you’ll also get a detailed ancestry report. This includes an Ancestry Composition, which is a list of your population percentages from continental to the regional level. This is determined by comparing your DNA to that of reference populations of known ancestry to 45 individual ethnicities and regions.

23andMe Ancestry Report Summary

23andMe goes one step further than many ancestry DNA tests, by determining your recent ancestry, which can pinpoint the location of your ancestors over the last 200 years to the country level. This is done with a good level of accuracy by comparing short segments of your DNA to over 2,000 reference populations, consisting of over 400,000 samples.

The ancestry report can also shed light on the origins and migrations of your ancient ancestors by identifying your maternal and paternal haplogroups, done by analyzing your mtDNA and Y-DNA (males only) respectively. For example, my haplogroup is H, which indicates I’m descended from a Middle Eastern woman, 18,000 years ago.

23andMe Haplogroup Ancestry Report

You’ll also get a Neanderthal DNA report, which tells you the percentage of your DNA that can be traced back to the prehistoric humans that went extinct around 40,000 years ago.

23andMe Neanderthal DNA Summary

My report showed that I had 242 Neanderthal genetic varients, which is equivalent to an estimated 2% of my DNA being Neanderthal in origin. You’ll also learn if you’re genetically predisposed to traits associated with a Neanderthal gene variant, such as your sense of direction.

Learn Your Genetic Risk with Over 100 Reports

You’re told to expect your results from 23andMe within 4 to 6 weeks. I received updates via email and my online account when my sample arrived at the lab and throughout the testing process. From shipping off my sample, it was a little over 5 weeks to receive my results.

Health & Traits Reports

The Health and Traits report from 23andMe is pretty extensive, so like me, it may take you some time to go through, but with 100 reports, you’ll certainly gain some interesting insights.

23andMe Health Report Tutorial

Before you can view your health results, you’re required to read through some learning information – such as a carrier status and BRCA gene – so you know what your reports mean, as well as understanding that your 23andMe results don’t provide a medical diagnosis.

To understand the main points of your health reports at a glance, select Health Highlights. This will show you the findings that could impact you or your family’s health.

23andMe Healt Highlights

My Health Highlights indicated that I have a slightly increased risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, plus a genetic variant associated with Hereditary Hemochromatosis, but it’s not likely to increase my risk.

By selecting one of your health highlights, you can learn more about what associated genetic variants were discovered during the analysis of your DNA.

23andMe Late-Onset Alzheimer's Report

For example, by selecting my Late-Onset Alzheimer’s report, I’m informed that I have one variant in the APOE gene that research has shown is associated with a slightly increased risk of developing the disease. Additional information in the report includes:

  • My percentage chance of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s by age 75 and by age 85.
  • Detailed information and other factors that influence the chances of developing the condition, including age, sex, heart health, family history, intellectual activity, and more.
  • The typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s and treatment options.

By selecting ‘Scientific Details’, you learn more about the gene analyzed and its function, as well as what variant was discovered. In my case, I have the C variant of the APOE gene, but it can’t be determined which parent I inherited from.

If you’re concerned about your health results, you can access your Personalized Action Plan, which provides additional information, asks questions about your lifestyle factors, and what questions to ask your doctor. Plus you’ll get advice on steps you can take to potentially reduce your risk, such as in the case of Alzheimer’s, schedule a time in the day for brain-engaging activity and improving your sleep.

23andMe Health Action Plan

Heading back to the Health Dashboard, I can select my 44 Carrier Status reports. From my health highlights, I already knew that I was a carrier for one gene variant linked to one of the congenital conditions 23andMe screen for – Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your results don’t include all possible variants associated with each condition.

23andMe Carrier Status Report

Selecting the Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency report informed me which gene variant I carry, symptoms of the condition, the chances of me passing it on to my children, and treatment options. Plus you can view a report of the science behind the results, which is written in accessible language, making it easy to understand.

If carrier screening shows you do possess gene variants that can result in congenital conditions in your offspring, you’re provided guidance on what to do next, such as talking to a genetic counselor or connect with support groups. I found testing positive for a carrier gene brought home to me the importance of carrier testing when you’re considering starting a family.

The health insights don’t end there, 23andMe also provides eight wellness reports to find out how your genetics may influence your body’s response to exercise, diet, and sleep. My wellness reports indicated that I’m less likely to be lactose intolerant, likely to consume more caffeine, predisposed to weigh less than average, and more.

23andMe Wellness Reports

You can discover more about your wellness traits by selecting individual reports. Included in each wellness report are actionable lifestyle insights, which can help make the biggest difference based on your genetics. For example in my genetic weight report, I’m advised to:

  • Limit my red meat intake, which is associated with weighing up to 12.3% less
  • Avoid eating fast food, which is associated with weighing up to 11% less
  • Sleep a healthy amount, which is associated with weighing up to 11.1% less
  • And more…

Now on to the fun part of my health results…the 34 traits reports which show how my genetics may influence my appearance and senses. With 23anMe’s traits, discover how your genetics predict your hair color and type, eye color, skin pigmentation, ear lobe type, phobias, mosquito bite frequency, and even if I’m likely to hate the sound of people chewing.

It was really interesting and fun to look over all the reports to see where 23andMe got it right, and where they got it a little bit wrong. Clicking on each individual trait report gives you plenty of information on how 23andMe made the prediction, the genes involved, and more.

For example, when it came to toe length ratio, 23andMe was correct with their prediction I would have a longer second toe. My second toe (and even my third toe) is longer than my big toe. Also, as predicted, I don’t get dandruff or have a cleft chin, and I’m not afraid of heights or public speaking.

23andMe Traits

However, they didn’t predict all my traits correctly. According to my genes, I’m most likely to have dark brown eyes with 27%, when in fact I have green eyes, which was predicted at just 9%. Plus, I don’t prefer salty over sweet (I have a notorious sweet tooth) and I don’t have very fair skin or stretch marks.

In the health section of the results report, I appreciated that you have control over what information you would like to see and choose to exclude certain reports, such as Late-Onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and more.

It shows that 23andMe recognizes that whether you want to learn about these risks is a personal choice. If you do choose to exclude certain reports, you can always include them at a later date from within your account settings.

That’s my complete results from 23andMe and I have to say that although there is a great deal of information to go through. I did learn a great deal about myself – about my heritage, health risks to watch out for, and how my genes influence how I look.

Get Ancestry + Health Insights with 23andMe!

Excellent Value for Money Health Testing with Added Ancestry Bonus

Health & Wellness
kit
Health + Ancestry
  • Explore your genetic disease risk, carrier risk
  • See how your DNA affects diet, exercise, sleep
  • Get a personalized health action plan

While it’s true that the health test from 23andMe is slightly more expensive than some of its competitors at $199.00, it’s perhaps unrivaled when it comes to value-for-money. You get 100 health reports, plus the added bonus of in-depth ancestry results.

If you’ve purchased the Ancestry + Traits Kit, you can upgrade to health reports at any time for a one-time fee of $125, without needing to order another test or submitting another sample. This is on-par with the health upgrade offered byMyHeritage, but you do get screening for more conditions as well as wellness reports.

However, you’re currently unable to upload an existing DNA sample, as you can with MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA, for cheap insights or free DNA matches.

23andMe offers a membership that costs $199, plus $29/year. You get everything from the Health + Ancestry kit, plus 10 additional premium health reports a year, pharmacogenomics reports, and advanced ancestry insights.

The membership is great value-for-money and is particularly useful for those taking certain medications as the pharmacogenomics reports show how your gene variants may influence how you react to them.

Pay for your 23andMe kit in your local currency with PayPal, Apple Pay, all major credit cards, or pre-paid gift cards from MasterCard, American Express, and Visa.

Special Offer at 23andMe!
25% Off Health + Ancestry Kit!
Ready to learn more about your ancestry and genetic health risk? There has never been a better time with a 25% discount on the Health + Ancestry test from 23andMe! Pay just $149.99 today!

No Complaints About Customer Support

The customer support center includes a set of frequently asked questions and support pages, which cover a wide range of topics. If you need more hands-on support, you can contact 23andMe via telephone, live chat, or email.

23andMe Customer Support Center

Telephone support was first, which operates Monday to Friday 3 am – 8 pm PT and Saturday and Sunday 8 am – 4 pm PT. I called at the weekend and was connected to an operator pretty quickly, who was friendly and knowledgeable about my inquiry about who I should contact about my carrier status reports if I developed any concerns.

Next up was email support. With other companies – including MyHeritage and Ancestry– I’ve been a little disappointed in the time it takes to respond to my emails. No such concerns with 23andMe. I received a response to my question about health report updates within just a few hours.

23andMe Email Customer Service

Next up was chat support, which is available between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm. I first ‘spoke’ with a chatbot, which took me around in circles when I asked about updates to health reports. When I requested being transferred to a Support Team member, I was connected immediately, and Shaun was able to answer my question perfectly.

23andMe Live Chat Support

Overall, 23andMe’s customer service did not disappoint. The website and the customer support agents combined covered every question I had and more still. Other customers also seem satisfied with 23andMe, with the exception of a few users who has issues with their saliva sample not containing sufficient DNA for analysis, even after multiple attempts.

 For Extensive Health Insights, Choose 23andMe

When it comes to health DNA testing, 23andMe has a lot to offer. I was seriously impressed that you get over 100 reports, as well as a personalized Health Action Plan.

The Health + Ancestry Test gives you detailed health insights, including your genetic risks for a number of health conditions, as well as your carrier status for over 40 congenital conditions. Plus, you’ll learn how your genetics can make you, you with 34 traits reports.

You also get the added bonus of in-depth ancestry insights, including an ethnicity estimate, mtDNA and Y-DNA, a Neanderthal DNA report, and DNA matches

If you just want health insights, take a look at the wide range of health and lifestyle DNA tests from GenePlanet.

Buy Health Testing from 23andMe!

FAQ

How do you take a 23andMe Health Test?

It’s very easy to take the 23andMe health test at home. You only need to provide a saliva sample by spitting into a tube until you have reached the desired level.

It may not seem like the most pleasant experience, but there is a handy funnel on the sample collection tube to avoid any mess, and it takes less than five minutes.

How long does it take to get my 23andMe health results?

The 23andMe website states your results will be delivered to your secure online account between 6-8 weeks after the lab has received your sample. My results arrived in just a little over 5 weeks and I received regular updates about to progress of my sample throughout the testing procedure.

How accurate is 23andMe’s health report?

The Genetic Health Risk and Carrier Status reports meet FDA requirements for analytical and clinical validity. Each gene variant 23andMe test demonstrated 99% accuracy, however, it is important to understand the limitations. For example, there can be thousands of gene variants associated with a condition and not all are tested for. Plus, many conditions are influenced by lifestyle factors as well as genetics.

Can 23andMe detect and diagnose you with a disease?

No, 23andMe cannot diagnose any health condition. The health report can tell you if you possess gene variants that may increase your risk of developing certain diseases, or if you’re a carrier of gene variants for congenital conditions that can be passed to your children if your partner is also a carrier.

If you’re concerned about your DNA results and what they mean for your health, you should discuss your results with a doctor or genetic counselor, who can give you a better understanding of your risk.

Who should consider taking a 23andMe Health test?

If you’re interested in learning your genetic risk for developing certain diseases or your carrier status for congenital conditions, 23andMe can tell you if you carry any gene variants associated with an increased risk. Plus, discover how your DNA may affect your sleep, diet, and exercise, with wellness reports.

 

Gemma Davison
Gemma Davison
Gemma is an Applied Biology graduate who has always had an interest in DNA, spending a few years after her degree researching epigenetics. She always keeps up to date with the latest advancements in DNA technology and has even DNA-tested her puppy.

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Colibri
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Sep. 21, 2021
Very nice
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Mainly Ok

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