With new scientific developments being made all of the time, DNA testing has become a popular product, with millions of people around the world buying them.
There are lots of competitors on the market, and 23andMe is one of the most popular choices. This company offers various services that can help you learn more about your own history, family, heritage, and even your health.
You can buy DNA testing kits from their website, and they also have services available where you can build your own family tree. In this article, we will tell you all about the different services that they offer and what you can get out of the experience.
Understanding how the process works will help you decide whether or not these testing kits are right for you. There are also many benefits of these DNA testing kits that we will outline here.
What is 23andMe?
23andMe pride themselves on the services that they offer and believe that everybody should be given the opportunity to explore their own DNA story to gain a better understanding of themselves and their past.
You might even be surprised at some of the things your DNA can tell you. How you choose to explore your DNA is completely up to you, and you can choose between the provided services.
The company has been providing historical information related to DNA testing since 2006. They have sold more than twelve million kits to a variety of places around the world. They are also the only company to provide a DNA test that includes more than 55 health reports.
How are DNA Reports Created?
Human DNA is around 99.5% identical in every single person, but there are small parts of our DNA that are different from one and another, which means that every person is unique. 23andMe explains that these differences are called variants.
DNA is passed down through generations of your family, and these variants in your DNA can be linked to health conditions, traits, and ancestry groups.
In your saliva, there are DNA cells that can be collected through a sample, which is what you would need to provide when you purchase a DNA testing kit.
Next, your DNA sample is sent off to the labs, where they will extract DNA from your sample and process it on a genotyping chip that will read all of the variants in your genome.
Finally, your genetic data is analyzed, and your personalized report is created based on scientific and medical research. You can read through your results and find out lots of unique information.
Aiding Scientific Research
Not only can you test your DNA and find out more information about yourself and your history than you ever thought you could, but you can also take part in research that can aid scientific discoveries.
Genetic research provides people with the opportunity to make a difference by participating in new types of research online.
This is an entirely voluntary part of DNA testing that you don’t have to take part in if you don’t want to. Those who choose to take part can answer online survey questions, and researchers can use this information to link their genetic data to topics like ancestry, traits, and diseases.
These contributions from the public can help build on scientific discoveries. You can choose whether or not you want to opt-in to this type of research.
You can also participate in Mount Sinai Health and Stanford Medicine’s My Heart Counts medical studies. This is only suitable for those who use an iPhone, but your genetic information can be used in large-scale medical studies with the new Research Kit app.
The studies are designed to help develop medical research and the app allows people to join and take part in new studies. These studies are directed towards asthma and heart disease, and you can download the app onto your iPhone if you want to take part.
Any customer who decides to take part in this medical research can actually help to contribute to over 230 studies on a variety of health related topics. 23andMe aims to accelerate research through the genetic data of their clients.
You can also participate in their research by answering survey questions online at any time. It is easily accessible and you can spend as much or as little time contributing as you like. This can help researchers to compare your data with others to help make medical advances and discoveries.
23andMe DNA Testing Kits
There are two types of DNA testing kits that are available to purchase from 23andMe.
The first of these is the ancestry and traits service, which is the cheapest option, and the second is the health and ancestry service, which is more expensive. Before we breakdown the differences between the two kits, we are going to explain how they work, and what is involved in the process.
Using the kit is easy and straightforward, and is completely non-invasive. To take part, there are just three simple steps that you will need to follow.
These steps are:
- Order the kit that you think is best suited towards you and the information that you are looking to find out. The sample collection process is the same for both of them, and will usually arrive within 3 to 5 days.
- Next, you will need to follow the instructions that are provided with the kit to provide a saliva sample. You will then need to register your saliva sample collection using the barcode that has been provided. Then you will need to mail your sample to the lab.
- All that is left is to find out your results, which will be ready in approximately 3 to 5 weeks. You will receive an email to let you know when they are ready to view, and you can then log in to your account to view them, and discover all about your DNA.
It really is as simple as that. In the kit, you will receive a saliva collection tube, a biohazard bag to store your sample, and an instruction manual that is complete with everything that you need to know about providing the sample.
Things to Note About 23andMe DNA Tests
You can be assured that your data is in good hands with 23andMe, and all of their reports meet the required criteria to be scientifically and clinically valid.
All of the samples provided will be processed in labs in the USA that meet local regulations. The kits are fully manufactured following Good Manufacturing Practices, and genotyping is a well-established and useful platform for DNA analysis.
Your data will be in safe hands, and you can actually choose how your information will be used and shared. 23andMe will not share any of your data without your consent, and they will not provide any of your information to your employer or health insurance companies.
It is completely up to you how you choose to use your genetic data.
23andMe Ancestry and Traits Service
The ancestry and traits service is a highly comprehensive ancestry breakdown, and will provide you with more than 30 trait reports. It is one of the most popular DNA testing kits available on the market for ancestry research.
You will get 80+ personalized reports, and ancestry reports down to the 0.1% from over 2000 geographic locations. If you have purchased this package, you can also upgrade to the health service for an additional fee.
This service is the most complete genetic breakdown on today’s market, and is highly comprehensive in terms of your results. You can discover where in the world your DNA originated from over 2000 locations, and it can even reveal the specific area like the town or county.
You can also discover long lost family members that share your DNA, and connect with family members that you didn’t even know about. There is also a family tree feature that is automatically built based on your DNA relationships.
You can look far back into the past using this kit, and find out when your more recent ancestors lived, going back up to 8 generations ago. You can even discover your maternal and paternal line ancestros and find out how they have moved around the world over thousands of years.
Our genes can tell us so much about ourselves that we didn’t even know, and you can find out what makes you truly unique with over 30+ trait reports. This includes physical features, aversions to tastes and smells, strange facts like phobias and reflexes, and so much more.
23andMe Health and Ancestry Service
With this DNA testing kit, you can get genetic insights that are relevant to your ancestry, traits, and health, that can make you more aware of your own health. The results will provide you with over 150 personalised reports and it also includes the ancestry and traits reports.
You can discover how your DNA can influence your health in the future using the latest scientific research, which can tell you how your DNA can affect your likelihood of developing certain health conditions. There are over ten health-related reports that you will be provided with that include:
- Type 2 Diabetes - Genetic likelihood for a disorder of blood sugar regulation
- Age-related Macular Degeneration - Genetic risk for vision loss in adulthood
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - Genetic risk for liver and lung disease
- Variants of BRCA1 and BRCA2 - Genetic risk for certain types of cancers like breast and ovarian cancer types.
- Celiac Disease - Genetic risk of developing an autoimmune disorder related to gluten
- Chronic Kidney Disease - Genetic risk of a certain for of kidney disease
- Familial Hypercholesterolemia - Genetic risk for high cholesterol that can increase risks of heart disease
- G6PD Deficiency - Genetic risk for forms of anemia
- Hereditary Amyloidosis - Genetic risk for a type of nerve and heart damage
- Hereditary Hemochromatosis - Genetic risk of iron overload
- Hereditary Thrombophilia - Genetic risk for blood clots
- Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease - Genetic risk for a type of dementia
- MUTYH-Associated Polyposis - Genetic risk for a type of colorectal cancer syndrome
- Parkinson's Disease - Genetic risk for a form of movement impairment
The likelihood of developing some of these conditions can be influenced by factors such as ethnicity, and certain other backgrounds. Your DNA can tell you which conditions that you may be more likely to develop, though this does not mean that you will develop any of these conditions.
You can also find out how your DNA can affect aspects of your lifestyle like sleep and exercise, which can give you useful information about ways in which you could alter your lifestyle to make a positive difference.
The health reports that you receive can also tell you what conditions that you could possibly pass on to your children in the future. You can find out if you are a carrier for certain genetic variants that can be inherited.
What You Should Know About 23andMe Health Reports
The genetic health reports will tell you all about the genetic variants that are associated with a higher risk for some specific health conditions. These reports do not show a diagnosis, and they do not require you to seek medical action, they are just possibilities.
If you are at a higher risk for a certain health condition, this does not mean that you will develop it, you are simply at a higher risk. You can go on to develop conditions that you don’t have the variant for. Nothing is set in stone with your results.
These reports should not be used as a replacement to visit a professional in the healthcare industry. If you do have any questions or concerns about your report, you can consult with a doctor, but these results should not be used as a basis for making medical decisions.
The carrier test will detect genetic variants that can cause inherited conditions. Some of these variants can be more likely found in certain ethnicities.
Being a carrier usually means that you have one variant for the condition and carriers don’t always have the condition themselves, but they can pass it on to their children. You can consult with a genetic counsellor to help you better understand the results you have been presented with.
Ancestry and Traits Service Vs Health and Ancestry Service
The first and most obvious difference between these two kits is the fact that they are very different in price.
The ancestry and traits survive is much cheaper than the health and ancestry service, but this is because you get less results with the first choice. The health and ancestry service is much more thorough and detailed, and will provide you with lots more information in your reports.
The ancestry and traits service provides you with your ancestry reports, DNA relative finder, and an automatic family tree builder. You can find out information about your past ancestry and your current family, and this information will be used to create a family tree.
You will also receive over 30 trait reports, and be provided with your raw, uninterpreted genetic data file.
The health and ancestry service comes with everything that the ancestry and traits service does, but with some added extras. Additionally, you will receive health predisposition reports, carrier status reports, and wellness reports.
These health reports are very thorough and you can receive lots of information about your risk to certain health conditions, factors surrounding your lifestyle, and conditions that you could be a carrier for.
Ultimately, the decision is yours when it comes to choosing between the two kits, but the one you decide to purchase will depend on what type of information you are looking for.
If you want to find out more about your ancestry and traits, and don’t want to find out about your health, then the better choice is the ancestry and traits service.
However, if you are looking for more information about your health, risks associated with various conditions, and information about your lifestyle, then the health and ancestry service is the best option for you.
23andMe Family Tree Feature
The family tree is a brilliant feature that comes with your DNA kit purchase. It is based on the information surrounding your DNA, and it is automatically predicted based on your results.
This feature can be found in the Family and Friends menu, and you will have to opt-in to participate. When you choose to use this feature, you can make connections with other people that have used this DNA testing kit to reach out to distant or close family members and find out more about your family.
To build your family tree, 23andMe will look at predicted relations between your relatives to figure out the ways in which you could be related. The tree will show you the most likely connections with other people, and it will show you other family members that are your 3rd cousin or closer.
These are people that have also been genotyped by 23andMe and have opted in to use this feature. The information that you choose to add to your tree from your own knowledge will only be visible to you.