23andMe was one of the first direct-to-consumer DNA companies on the market and is a popular choice among those who are interested in genetic testing. But, what does 23andMe test for, and what are your alternatives? Read on to find out.
23andMe is a DNA testing company based in Sunnyvale, California, and was founded in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza. The company offers genetic testing services for ancestry, health, and traits. Customers provide their samples using at-home DNA testing kits to receive their reports.
Read this comprehensive 23andMe review to learn more about their products and services.
What 23andMe tests for depends on which plans the user chooses to purchase. They include:
- Ancestry Service: provides ancestry breakdown
- Health + Ancestry Service: ancestry + health insights
- 23andMe+ Membership: Health + Ancestry Service plus access to new reports
23andMe tests around 650,000 SNPs. These are variations in your DNA that have the potential to interfere with your biochemical system. Since your genes are in charge of the chemical reactions that happen in your body, any variation can have a small or big effect on the end result.
It is extremely rare for a single mutation to have a huge impact (like in sickle cell anemia for example), but small cumulative effects are very common. This means that the more SNP data you have to add up, the more accurate the predictions can become.
To solve this problem, companies like SelfDecode use a process called genetic imputation to figure out parts that are not known from a person’s DNA test and provide more accurate results for customers.
- Read more: How many SNPs does 23andMe test?
It’s worth noting that you cannot upload raw data to 23andMe. This means potential customers must buy another DNA testing kit even when they already have a genetic file.
23andMe also does not provide health recommendations in the reports. While 23andMe informs users of their genetic predispositions, they provide little to no guidance on how a user can alleviate that risk. There are no action plans personalized to the individual’s DNA.
The 23andMe test includes 10+ health predisposition reports, 5+ wellness reports, and 40+ carrier status reports. Below you can find a list of the health predisposition reports:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
- BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected Variants)
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease (APOL1-Related)
- Familial Hypercholesterolemia
- G6PD Deficiency
- Hereditary Amyloidosis (TTR-Related)
- Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HFE‑Related)
- Hereditary Thrombophilia
- Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
- MUTYH-Associated Polyposis
- Parkinson’s Disease
23andMe also tests for the following wellness traits:
- Alcohol Flush Reaction
- Caffeine Consumption
- Deep Sleep
- Genetic Weight
- Lactose Intolerance
- Muscle Composition
- Saturated Fat and Weight
- Sleep Movement
For access to more health predisposition reports, you need to sign up for the 23andMe+ subscription, which includes a few more health reports.
Health results from 23andMe are presented in a similar manner. Users will first encounter their genetic predisposition, followed by brief information about the condition or trait and links to helpful resources.
Below you can view a sample result from 23andMe.
As mentioned above, 23andMe does not provide personalized health recommendations based on a user’s genetic results.
The ancestry report includes your ancestry composition (see below), maternal and paternal lineage (Haplogroups), and Neanderthal ancestry.
After reviewing what 23andMe tests for, one could consider other options for getting more out of their genetic data. For example, for users who want to upload their DNA data, SelfDecode offers a health-focused DNA analysis with personalized blog posts, health & trait reports, and personalized recommendations.
With SelfDecode, users also get more from their data. SelfDecode uses AI and machine learning to analyze up to 83 million genetic variants and give personalized diet, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations. By using polygenic risk scoring, SelfDecode is able to analyze more data points and provide more accurate results and recommendations.
For those interested in ancestry, SelfDecode gives you an in-depth ethnicity percentage breakdown, as well as a color-coded map that can help you easily discover where you’re from.
Users who sign up for any SelfDecode plan receive access to:
- Over 300 health & trait reports
- Their genotype for over 83M genetic variants
- Personalized genetic blog posts
- Lab tracker analyzer & recommendations
- Comprehensive diet & nutrition and fitness reports
- Meal plan builder
- And more!
23andMe gives customers the opportunity to better understand their heritage and ancestry. They also provide some information about traits and wellness, but they are less personalized than some other companies.
In this article, we reviewed what 23andMe tests for, which include health, ancestry, and trait reports. The DNA kit includes 650,000 SNPs.
The main positive aspects of 23andMe are that they are one of few companies that offer both ancestry and health information based on genetic data, but they are lacking when it comes to providing health recommendations based on a user’s data.
For potential customers who want to get the most out of their DNA data, there are alternatives such as SelfDecode, which analyzes millions of SNPs to provide accurate health & ancestry insights.
- 23andMe v5: All about the latest 23andMe genotyping chip
- How Accurate is 23andMe?
- What To Do With 23andMe Raw Data