23andMe Reviews: Will You Discover Shocking Health & Ancestry Results?

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23andMe kitWondering if you’ll be diagnosed with a disease later in life? Could the condition skip you but be passed on to your children? You can learn about your health and ancestry all with a spit of your saliva. Okay, maybe it takes a little more than one spit, but it’s a super simple sample that you can send in and have results within weeks.

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Article Overview

 23andMe

Compared To Other Tests

23andMe

4.25 / 5
23andMe
DNA Tests Offered 4.0
Storage & Privacy Policy 4.8
Pricing 4.0
Online Community 4.0
Customer Support 4.5

Pros

  • Only at-home DNA test to offer FDA-approved health screenings
  • Large database of 5 million people
  • Provides your ethnicity breakdown from 1,000+ global regions
  • CLIA and CAP certified laboratory (third-party lab)
  • Test samples and results are secure for privacy
  • Provides chromosome browser to compare shared chromosomal segments
  • Stores your DNA sample
  • Gives you raw DNA results

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer separate, in-depth Y-DNA or mtDNA testing
  • No genealogical DNA projects available to join on website
  • Can’t upload raw DNA data from other services
  • Genealogical community forums are lacking compared to our top two choices
  • Users have to opt-in to allow others to even see that they’re a genetic match (members say many don’t, making it more difficult to identify and connect with living relatives)

Key Features

  • Saliva sample
  • Results in 6-8 weeks
  • Discover ancestry and health-related results (Note: Just because you test positive for a risk variant, it doesn’t mean you will develop the condition.)
  • 5+ ancestry reports
  • 10+ health results
  • 43 carrier status reports
  • 5 wellness reports
  • 25 trait reports

What Reports Are Included For 23andMe?

5 Ancestry Reports

  1. Ethnic Composition
  2. Maternal Haplogroups
  3. Neanderthal Ancestry
  4. Paternal Haplogroups
  5. Your DNA Family

12 Health Results

Below are the FDA-approved genetic health risk reports included for this 23andMe health review.

  1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  2. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
  3. BRCA1/BRCAS2
  4. Celiac Disease
  5. Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HFE-Related)
  6. Hereditary Thrombophilia
  7. Late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  8. Parkinson’s Disease
  9. Type 2 Diabates
  10. G6PD Deficiency
  11. Hereditary Amyloidosis (TTR-Related)
  12. Familial Hypercholesterolemia

43 Carrier Status Reports

  1. ARSACS
  2. Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum with Peripheral Neuropathy
  3. Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease
  4. Beta Thalassemia and Related Hemoglobinopathies
  5. Bloom Syndrome
  6. Canavan Disease
  7. Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation Type 1a
  8. Cystic Fibrosis
  9. D-Bifunctional Protein Deficiency
  10. Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase Deficiency
  11. Familial Dysautonomia
  12. Familial Hyperinsulinism (ABCC8-Related)
  13. Fanconi Anemia Group C
  14. GRACILE Syndrome
  15. Gaucher Disease Type 1
  16. Glycogen Storage Disease Types Ia
  17. Glycogen Storage Disease Type Ib
  18. Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
  19. Herlitz Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
  20. Leigh Syndrome, French Canadian Type
  21. Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2D
  22. Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2E
  23. Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2I
  24. MCAD Deficiency
  25. Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B
  26. Mucolipidosis Type IV
  27. Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CLN5-Related)
  28. Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (PPT1-Related)
  29. Niemann-Pick Disease Type A
  30. Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome
  31. Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss and Deafness, DFNB1
  32. Pendred Syndrome and DFNB4 Hearing Loss
  33. Phenylketonuria and Related Disorders
  34. Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 2
  35. Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata Type 1
  36. Salla Disease
  37. Sickle Cell Anemia
  38. Sjögren-Larsson Syndrome
  39. Tay-Sachs Disease
  40. Tyrosinemia Type I
  41. Usher Syndrome Type 1F
  42. Usher Syndrome Type 3A
  43. Zellweger Syndrome Spectrum

8 Wellness Reports

  1. Alcohol flush reaction
  2. Caffeine consumption
  3. Deep sleep
  4. Genetic weight
  5. Lactose intolerance
  6. Muscle composition
  7. Saturated fat and weight
  8. Sleep movement

32 Trait Reports

  1. Ability to match musical pitch
  2. Asparagus odor detection
  3. Back hair (men only)
  4. Bald spot (men only)
  5. Bitter taste perception
  6. Cheek dimples
  7. Cilantro taste aversion
  8. Cleft chin
  9. Earlobe type
  10. Early hair loss (men only)
  11. Earwax type
  12. Eye color
  13. Fear of heights
  14. Finger length ratio
  15. Freckles
  16. Hair photobleaching (hair lightening from the sun)
  17. Hair texture
  18. Hair thickness
  19. Light or dark hair
  20. Misophonia (hatred of the sound of chewing)
  21. Mosquito bite frequency
  22. Motion sickness
  23. Newborn hair
  24. Photic sneeze reflex
  25. Red hair
  26. Skin pigmentation
  27. Stretch marks
  28. Sweet vs. salty
  29. Toe length ratio
  30. Unibrow
  31. Wake-Up time
  32. Widow’s peak

Price

  • $99 – Ancestry DNA test (saliva sample)
  • $199 – Ancestry + Health DNA testing kit
  • $9.95 shipping via 23andMe website
  • View all options

Coupon

Ancestry + Traits service, which features a DNA relative finder and family tree builder, is $79 — down from $99. Its Health + Ancestry service, which includes carrier status reports and health predisposition reports, is $99 — down from $199.  Click here to take advantage of these limited time deals.

What Comes In A 23andMe Kit?

Take a look at what’s included in a 23andMe Ancestry + Health DNA kit in the unboxing video below.

23andMe Competitors

Below are some critical differences between 23andMe and its competitors.

23andMe vs African Ancestry

  • African Ancestry focuses solely on Africa, whereas 23andMe is worldwide.
  • African Ancestry has more limited results than 23andMe does.
  • 23andMe can test for health and ancestry, African Ancestry only tests ancestry.

23andMe vs AncestryDNA

  • Ancestry.com’s DNA database has 10 million people compared to 23andMe, which has 5 million people.
  • 23andMe’s genealogical community forums are lacking compared to AncestryDNA’s.
  • Easier to connect with genetic matches on AncestryDNA versus 23andMe.

See all the differences between 23andMe and AncestryDNA

23andMe vs Family Tree DNA

  • 23andMe’s database has 5 million people compared to Family Tree DNA’s, which is just over 1 million people.
  • Family Tree DNA doesn’t offer any health-related DNA testing.
  • Family Tree DNA offers Autosomal DNA and in-depth Y-DNA and mtDNA testing kits. This is the only site to offer this. 23andMe only offers Autosomal DNA testing.

23andMe vs MyHeritage DNA

  • 23andMe offers health-related DNA results, while MyHeritage does not.
  • The MyHeritageDNA test kit is significantly less expensive than 23andMe’s tests.
  • MyHeritage has a highly active online community; 23andMe does not.

23andMe vs Vitagene

  • Vitagene does not test for genetic predisposition, 23andMe does.
  • Vitagene costs $99 for the health and ancestry report. 23andMe is more expensive at $199 for the ancestry and health report.
  • Vitagene only has participation in the U.S., while 23andMe is available worldwide.

What Do People Think Of 23andMe?

Positive Reviews

Amazing site with amazing connections to family members I didnt know I had, waited appox 6 weeks for my results which is ealier then expected, I have managed to find a 3rd cousin from my dads side eho is his 2nd cousin… I have no idea who my father is but now because of 23andme im a step closer to uncoverig this… Highly Recommended 23andme, yes results can take awhile and it clearly states that on the site but its honestly worth the wait. – Jennifer G., Trustpilot 2/11/2019

I ordered three kits at approximately the same time; one from 23andme, and one *** from two competitors offering similar services, for comparison. What made me most excited for 23andme was the health reports, which the other two didn’t provide. I live in Canada, and all three kits were shipped from America. The *** I received from 23andme was the one I received the fastest, and the one who had processed my results the quickest. I found 23andme to have offered the best shipping experience. That I sent back the entire box they sent me created the least amount of waste also. All of my results were what I expected them to be, they made the most sense, and were presented in the easiest to understand format. Compared to the other two, 23andme was the best. – Gerald F., BBB 6/30/2018

Negative Reviews

Like most posts one star is too much. I posted my sample to them 12 weeks ago and have just heard that they can’t extract my DNA…if you read this thread it seems quite common issue even though they said it was very unusual. They don’t answer my chasing e-mails. Very very poor service. – Adrian C., Trustpilot 2/26/2019

23andme seems a bit distant from its customers. 23andme provides a fair amount of generalized information, and some, but not much, personally detailed information. For a DNA test, I expected more; maybe I am just too naive about what can be accomplished with spit. If more people – massive numbers – were to participate, then I’m certain there would be a greater number of details given out, and more connections made. – Dale M., Sitejabber 1/23/2018

My Personal Experience With 23andMe

Exploring Life’s Mysteries purchased a 23andMe Ancestry and Health DNA testing kit for me to try and review. After submitting my results the first time, they came back “insufficient to produce genotyping results.” 23andMe said this is uncommon, but does occur occasionally, so the company sent me a replacement kit. I was worried I’d have to wait another 4+ weeks for my results, but the results came quickly.

My 23andMe Results

There are 5 categories with results from my 23andMe DNA test: Health Reports, Carrier Status, Genetic Health Risk, Traits and Wellness. I’ll briefly discuss the main takeaways from each report to give you an idea of what you could expect if you submitted a sample to 23andMe.

Ancestry Reports Results

My ancestry report was pretty uneventful, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. My maternal grandfather has a book dating back multiple generations that includes family tree information and our ancestry composition. I remember as a young girl doing a class project on my family’s heritage and that book was extremely helpful.

23andMe Ancestry Report Screenshot

23andMe’s results for my ancestry report confirmed everything I already knew, which gives me peace of mind knowing that the results and the book were similar.

Carrier Status Results

My carrier status report had 0 out of 43 highlights, I was ecstatic about this. Knowing that the variants 23andMe conducts were not detected in my saliva gives me a little peace of mind knowing that any future children I may have are not at increased risk for obtaining some diseases. (Although, 23andMe notes for all of its tests that diseases can still be obtained since it does not test for every variant possible.)

Genetic Health Risk Results

I have 3 out of 8 highlighted reports for genetic health risk:

  • Age related macular degeneration (vision loss in older adults)
  • Celiac disease (consumption of gluten damages the small intestine)
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis (HFE-related) (absorption of too much dietary iron)

I was pretty pleased with these results. Not that these three highlights couldn’t be serious, but there were other reports I was more concerned about that came back undetected:

  • BRCA1/BRCA2 (associated with an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer and other types of cancer)
  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (memory loss, cognitive decline and personality shifts)
  • Parkinson’s Disease (tremor, muscle stiffness and problems with movement)

23andMe Genetic Health Risk Report Screenshot

I shared the results with my husband and we were ecstatic. Although I could still fall ill with one of these diseases, it’s comforting knowing the variants tested were undetected.

My husband stated that he could never read results like this because he would take negative results as a death sentence. I don’t blame him one bit. I’m very fortunate with the results I received and understand why someone may opt out of reading the health risk results.

Personally, I’ve always been a curious person and like to know as much as possible about something ahead of time to help prepare me. Although reading results that I had increased risk for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s would’ve been terrible to learn, I would also be happy to know that I could come to terms with the possibility of me obtaining those diseases sooner than later.

I realize it’s easy for me to say that is how I would react, but I truly believe that. My mother was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2016 and died in 2017. I spent the weeks and months following her diagnosis researching and learning everything I could about the disease and how she could live longer. In the end, the information was helpful, but I wish I would’ve spent that time calling her on the phone and spending more time with her instead of stewing over her fatal illness.

Traits Results

Some of the traits 23andMe tested for crack me up, asparagus odor detection (in urine), earwax type, toe length ratio, etc. I have 0 out of 19 highlighted reports for my traits results. This was a less interesting for me because I had taken some surveys through 23andMe and I recall some of the questions being asked. Although (nearly) all of the results are correct, I wonder if my results are genuine here or if they were just taken from the surveys I answered.

However, some of the results I remember not being asked about and they are still correct, so it’s still cool to know that my DNA results show that my ring fingers are are longer than my index fingers and my big toe is longer than my other toes.

The one result that was off on this one (sort of) was that it said I was likely to prefer salty snacks opposed to sweet snacks. Typical me prefers a chocolate candy bar or yummy pastry. However, at the time I took this test I was pregnant and I have been leaning towards the salty and savory snacks lately. So I won’t be too hard on 23andMe for this one.

Overall, these results weren’t much of a shocker to me since I know I don’t have dimples, my eye color is hazel, I have red hair, many freckles and light skin. I know my physical traits, but it was still fascinating to know these items can be detected in my DNA.

23andMe Traits Report Screenshot

Wellness Results

My wellness results highlighted 3 out of 8 reports. I wasn’t totally bummed at these results except that my muscle composition is uncommon in elite power athletes. However, perhaps 23andMe meant that I’m superior than elite power athletes and have astonishing muscle composition, but I won’t hold my breath on that one!

23andMe Wellness Report Screenshot

Registering My 23andMe Kit

This process was super simple. All I had to do was use the code on the side of the test tube and create an account on 23andMe’s website. The website also lets me know which step my kit is in throughout the testing process.

Providing The Saliva Sample

23andme Saliva Sample23andMe made this extremely simple. There were clear directions on how to fill the test tube with saliva and a clearly marked “Fill To” line. (Note, if you do a 23andMe test, you want the spit to be to the fill line, not the bubbles. Additionally, make sure you don’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes before completing the sample.) 

After I filled the tube with my saliva, I added the solution cap and shook it for about 5 seconds, per the directions. I then removed the solution cap and added the regular cap to prepare the sample for shipment. The kit came with a prepaid return box, which had directions on it as well.

I loved that the box was small and could be dropped off in a USPS collection box or placed in a mailbox. (Not waiting in long lines at USPS is always a plus in my book!) It was straightforward to place the test tube in the sealed bag and in the return box and send it off for testing. The box included a tracking number on it which is handy to see when the lab will receive my results.

Health Reports

First of all, I really like that I received ancestry and health results with one single test. I think it’s really cool that I can receive reports about diseases that I could potentially be diagnosed with later in life. However, this isn’t the test for everyone.

23andMe warns users about the anxiety or depression you may feel if you receive health results that are less than ideal. I think this is important because it shows 23andMe cares about its customers and doesn’t want the test results to cause stress.

23andMe health report screenshot

Personally, I’m a very curious individual and like to know as much as possible, so I opted to receive the reports.

Am I Happy With My Results?

Visit 23andMe’s Website

Overall, I’m pleased with my experience with 23andMe. It’s fun to learn more about my ancestry and health and I can share the information with other family members. If you’re someone who has low anxiety and doesn’t stress out too easily, then I’d recommend this test to you.

However, if finding out you have characteristics in your DNA that are associated with fatal illnesses will weigh on you, I recommend choosing an ancestry specific DNA test and not one that includes health results.

Another Positive Experience

We reached out to our networking asking for any success stories from using DNA tests and Charlie Basham shared his personal experience of using 23andMe to discover his paternal roots. Read about it below.

I was adopted at birth 67 years ago and throughout my life I’ve lived with a sense of loss and abandonment. I really didn’t know who I was. Did I come from a clan of heroes or horse thieves? I had to find out some day. If anything, to pass the info on to my daughters.

In my 20’s I began a 40 year frustrating and disappointing search for my birth parents. This was well before the DNA search process was available. I hit dead ends every step of the way. Finally I tapped into an amazing underground network of “professional” adoption searchers on the Internet. Within days (and after a $400 cash bribe to a government worker) I found my birth mother– unfortunately it was 30 days after she’d passed away. She took to her grave all hope of finding my birth father!

But I excitedly dug into my birth mother’s ancestors. I found mostly farmers, carpenters and merchants. But I also discovered a 3X great grandfather who had a well-documented Civil War experience tied directly to President Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth. Simply put, my kin’s Union Army war actions in North Carolina indirectly helped prevent Lincoln’s kidnapping by Booth in Washington D.C. But it may have also indirectly led to Lincoln’s assignation a few weeks later!

Granted, it took some digging on his part, but through the magic of DNA testing he was able to uncover some deep mysteries and have peace mind knowing who some of his relatives are.

Additional Reading

Find out how 23andMe stacks up against Family Tree DNA, Ancestry DNA and other 23andMe competitors in our Best DNA Test article. Are there companies better than 23andMe? Find out in this comparison.

Share your 23andMe genetic testing reviews with us!

About The Author:

Kimberly is always up for an adventure. She’s used to living out of a suitcase and travels consistently. Her first time out of the country was to Thailand, where she spent 4 1/2 months traveling throughout southeast Asia. Kimberly enjoys exploring new places and diving into new cultures. While Kimberly isn’t traveling you can find her trying a new recipe in the kitchen, spending time outside or just lounging at home.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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