A DNA testing kit that helps you understand your ethnicity, pinpoint medical risks and find distant relatives.
23andMe is a DNA testing service that offers one of the most comprehensive health screening and genetic testing packages in the market.
In this guide, we'll cover the key features, costs and pros vs cons of 23andMe's testing service, so that you can decide if it's the right DNA kit for you.
Launched in 2006, 23andMe is a major US-based genetic testing company that was one of the earliest companies to offer DNA testing services online. Today, 23andMe ships its testing kits to more than 50 countries worldwide, including Australia, as listed below.
How does it work?
Just like other DNA testing websites, you can order a DNA testing kit from 23andMe directly online. Once the DNA kit has been delivered to you, just follow the instructions provided. You might be asked to either spit into a test tube or swab the insides of your mouth. Following this, ship your sample back to 23andMe in the same pre-paid package. You may get your results online within a further two to five weeks.
How much does 23andMe cost?
23andMe offers three different services, each at a different cost.
- Ancestry + Traits Service: $99 USD
- Health + Ancestry Service: $199 USD
- VIP Health + Ancestry Service: $499 USD
Shipping costs can vary between $9.95 and $24.95 based on the type of shipping and delivery you opt for. Transaction fees may also apply.
What features come with 23andMe DNA testing?
Here's exactly what you can expect with a 23andMe kit.
- Detailed testing and analysis. 23andMe meets the US Government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria for scientific and clinical validity, plus, it also claims to provide ancestry estimates that are accurate to the nearest 0.1%. To get such comprehensive results, 23andMe uses genotyping which is a process of examining specific regions of your DNA for variations. The $99 USD test uses this data to pinpoint your ethnic composition and estimate your predisposition to certain traits (like whether you like the herb cilantro), while the $199 USD kit offers additional information related to your medical history. 23andMe further offers health reports to warn you of genetic risks for select diseases like cancer and your ability to carry conditions like cystic fibrosis.
- Online reports. Your medical test reports and ancestry results will be available online on your 23andMe account. The best thing about these reports is that you can access them anytime you want.
- Strong security & privacy. 23andMe does not share your genetic information with law enforcement, employers or health insurance companies without your explicit permission.
- Opportunities to reach out to distant relatives. Use 23andMe's DNA Relatives tool to reach out to connect to other 23andMe members who could be related to you.
- Paid VIP service. VIP members get access to two DNA testing kits, a priority results service and one-on-one explanations of your ancestry.
Pros and cons
- One of the only testing kits to offer health screenings as well as specific tracing along your maternal and paternal lines
- Draws from a huge dataset of over 10 million people across 1,000 regions
- Results are available online through your 23andMe account indefinitely
- Detailed ancestry reports including ethnic composition breakdown and even what % Neanderthal you are
- Reviews cite that customer support can be lacking
- Extra shipping costs
23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive DNA tests on the market, for each price point. Its cheapest package, coming in at $99 USD offers helpful insights into your ethnic composition, inherited traits and potential relatives. More expensive packages grant access to FDA-backed medical analysis and even one-to-one walkthroughs of your ancestry results.
Whichever package you choose, 23andMe draws on a huge pool of data to give you detailed analyses, with interesting reports and helpful tools like DNA Relatives. Whether you're testing your DNA to learn more about your ethnicity, understand future health risks or reach out to long-lost relatives, 23andMe just might have the tool for you.