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DNA tests are done for a whole range of personal and medical reasons. Whatever it is you're seeking to find out, it's a good idea to compare a few different DNA testing companies before settling on the kit that works for you.
In this article, we help you make the right choice by comparing the key features of 23andMe and AncestryDNA.
23andMe and AncestryDNA: How do the brands compare?
|Description||Get details of genetic health risks and find unknown relatives from around the globe.||Find out more about your family's origins and learn about yourself.|
|DNA collection type||Saliva||Saliva|
|Result in||6-8 weeks||6-8 weeks|
|Price per kit||From $145 (excludes shipping)||From $129 (excludes shipping)|
|Database size||10 million||18 million|
|Genetic traits report?||Yes||Yes|
|Geographic regions||2,000 +||1,100 +|
|Downloadable raw data?||Yes||Yes|
|Family tree software||Yes||Yes|
Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA provide clients with a test tube to collect their saliva to process their DNA. The collection method is relatively easy as all you will have to do is spit into the test tube, ensure the cap is secure and then ship it out to the company.
AncestryDNA tests your autosomal DNA to cover your family tree's maternal and paternal sides. 23andMe also uses autosomal testing, but it can also estimate your y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. This information could help you to trace your ancestry more widely.
The results you receive will depend on the package you choose, how detailed the company is and the number of regions it covers.
AncestryDNA covers more than 1,100 regions including ethnicities from Cameroon, Congo and Western Bantu Peoples, Early North Carolina African Americans, Northern Philippines and more. The brand compares your DNA to the DNA of people with known origins from around the world, known as its reference panel. AncestryDNA has a total of 44,703 DNA samples. However, the current AncestryDNA genetic ethnicity does not provide a direct estimate of Aboriginal Australian Ethnicity.
In comparison, 23andMe covers more than 2,000 regions worldwide. These regions are European, East Asian, Native American, West Asian, North African, Sub-Saharan African, Melanesian and recent ancestry in the Americas.
With AncestryDNA, you can break down your ethnicity by percentage and determine the degree of relatedness you may have to another person. AncestryDNA offers ThruLines, which show you the common ancestors which are likely connecting you to your DNA matches. The company also predicts your traits and provides health and wellness reports.
23andMe provides reports on your ancestry timeline and inherited traits and detailed insights into your personalised characteristics and features. Some examples are the ability to match musical pitch, cleft chin, earlobe type, cilantro taste aversion, ice cream flavour preference and more. Perhaps more importantly, it provides information on genetic health risks and carrier status. It also has an optional online network, DNA Relative Finder, where you can find matches, compare ancestries and traits.
Additionally, 23andMe will automatically build a family tree from your DNA relationships.
The processing speed of both Ancestry DNA and 23andMe typically takes six to eight weeks. Once your results are ready, log on to the specific web portal to view the report to view your results. Ancestry DNA will email you a notification when your information is prepared to be viewed.
23andMe offers different services starting at $139 before shipping. If you're looking for a premium kit, you can pay more for its Health and Ancestry service or the VIP Health and Ancestry service.
AncestryDNA's kit is $129 and an additional cost for shipping. The company also offers memberships starting at $21.99. Becoming a member may give you access to records of different regions as well as the ability to connect with other Ancestry members. Membership typically gives you access to records on birth, marriage, death, census, military, church and more.
Privacy and security
Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA identify the samples only with a unique code to track your DNA. Results are encrypted and stored in a secured database to protect the information from unauthorised access.
The company sets internal limitations on accessing the database. If you agree to AncestryDNA’s Informed Consent for Research, the company will store your sample for future research; otherwise, you can choose to have your sample destroyed.
23andMe requires clients to review its Consent Document for Sample Storage and Additional Genetic Analyses during the kit registration. Unless clients consent to Biobanking or sample storage, the saliva sample and DNA are destroyed after the laboratory completes its work.
One of AncestryDNA's key features is the provision of the ethnic breakdown of your DNA through an interactive map. While it is possible to peruse historical documents with AncestryDNA, this feature is limited to the US and UK record collections only.
Given its similar price point, we'd say therefore that 23andMe has the edge on its close rival. 23andMe offers a more robust view of health information, in our view. Additionally, it includes some exciting factors like traits on back hair and Neanderthal heritage. 23andMe also offers a broader region with over 2,000 areas worldwide.
Compare more DNA test kits
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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Frequently asked questions
Why do some DNA samples fail?
If a test tube’s cap is not secure, the lab might not have enough of your saliva to process. Typically, you should also not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, brush your teeth or use mouthwash for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample.
Can I do a DNA test if I've had a bone marrow transplant?
Generally, people who have received a bone marrow should get a close relative, like a parent or sibling, tested instead. Since your cells will contain blood cells created by the bone marrow, your saliva will probably include your DNA and that of your bone marrow donor. So, your results can end up inconclusive or possibly report the results of your donor.
How long is a DNA kit good for?
Many companies have an end-date saliva collection printed on the test tube. Generally speaking, you can store a DNA kit for at least a year after the date of purchase. But be sure to check the manufacturer's guidance on any DNA test you're looking to buy.
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