How Good is 23andMe Accuracy? Does it Work? Everything You Want to Know about 23andMe DNA Tests
We used to have to depend on stories Grandpa and Grandma would tell us to learn more about our family history. However, modern technology has now made learning about your heritage as easy as spitting into a little tube to give a DNA sample.
We’re so curious about where we came from that the DNA testing market is estimated to reach 10.04 billion by 2022. According to MIT Technology Review, over 12 million people did genetic genealogy tests in 2017 alone ¾ double the number for the year before.
One popular DNA kit company that stands out from the others, because they also offer the option of getting health data along with ancestry information, is 23andMe.
But is this really the best DNA kit out there? How accurate is 23andMe DNA testing? What type of results do you get?
AdvisoryHQ News has done its homework on this genetic testing kit to find out the answers to all your burning questions. Is 23andMe safe? Does 23andMe work to warn you of health issues? How much does 23andMe cost?
If you’ve ever thought about doing a DNA test and weren’t sure which one to buy, you’ll want to read our 23andMe review. You’ll learn all about the type of genetic ancestry and health testing they do and about 23andMe ancestry accuracy.
Let’s get started learning a little about the company behind 23andMe DNA testing and then we’ll get into the 23andMe reviews of accuracy and see what test buyers have to say about the kit.
AdvisoryHQ 23andMe Review | About the Company
23andMe is a private company and was founded in 2006. It’s based in Mountain View, California and offers their DNA testing kits in 48 countries.
A review of the history of DNA tests shows that 23andMe was the first company to offer consumer autosomal DNA testing, and their business was named “Invention of the Year” by Time magazine in 2008.
Because 23andMe accuracy is vital to giving good information and that information has to do with health data, the FDA required them as well as other DNA testing kit companies to file for the appropriate status through their agency.
The company did receive approvals from the FDA that allowed them to provide results for several health-related gene mutations which should be good news to those wondering, “Is 23andMe accurate?” or “Is 23andMe safe?”.
How Does 23andMe Work?
So, once you decide to purchase a DNA kit, how does 23andMe work? It’s a fairly easy process and there’s no blood needed, just a little saliva.
The 23andMe kit comes right to your door, so you can provide the sample at your leisure and then await the results. We’ll answer the question, “How long does 23andMe take” in a moment, but first, we’ll go through the highlights of how 23andMe works.
- Once you buy the DNA kit, it takes about 3 to 5 days to arrive
- You shouldn’t eat, drink, chew gum, brush your teeth or use mouthwash for 30 minutes before providing a sample
- Follow the kit instructions to provide a sample in the saliva collection tube
- After capping the tube, shake for 5 seconds
- Use the barcode given to register your sample online before you mail it back.
- Enclose the sample in the envelope that’s included and mail back
How Long Does 23andMe Take?
Wondering, “How long does 23andMe take after you send in your sample?”. Once you send in your sample, you can expect it to take around 6 to 8 weeks before you get your DNA test results. Although we’ve found several 23andMe reviewers said it took longer that that.
How does 23andMe work with the notification process? You’ll receive an email notification when your DNA test reports are ready and you can then log into the account you created when you registered your sample and see what the results say.
What Does 23andMe Test For?
You have the choice of getting an Ancestry report or Ancestry + Health report when you do the 23andMe genetic testing. The 23andMe cost differs between the two, and you’ll find pricing in the next section of our article.
Let’s find out below the types of things 23andMe reviews and that you’ll receive data about from your DNA sample.
Ancestry Service for 23andMe
How does 23andMe work with their heritage reports? Here are the 5 main report types you’ll get back about your genetic family history.
- Ancestry Composition
- Maternal Haplogroup
- Paternal Haplogroup
- Neanderthal Ancestry
- Your DNA Family
So, what is a haplogroup? It’s a genetic group of people who share a common ancestor either on the mother’s or father’s side. It can give you insight into the regions where your ancestry originated and who might be a distant relative.
Health Service for 23andMe
When it comes to the health-related reports, there are several of them. They’re grouped into subsets of test types to help understand them better.
- Genetic Health Risk Reports (5+ reports)
- Wellness Reports (5+ reports)
- Traits Reports (25+ reports)
- Carrier Status Reports (40+ reports)
If you’re wondering, “What does 23andMe test for in their health DNA service?”, we’ve got a small example below.
The type of health information you get back in your 23andMe review of results is quite extensive, so we’ll just hit some highlights here, and you can see a full listing on their website “How it Works” page.
23andMe accuracy of testing allows you to get gene marker related information on things, such as:
- Celiac Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Earwax Type
- Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
- Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
- Lactose Intolerance
- Mosquito Bite Frequency
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Sickle Cell Anemia
The company stands behind their 23andMe accuracy of results, but warn that the test results are not meant to be a medical diagnosis. You should follow up with a medical professional if you have any concerns about your results.
Is 23andMe Safe?
One common concern about DNA testing is about who has access to your results. Is 23andMe safe and secure, or are you going to end up in a big DNA database?
The company says that they will not share your individual DNA data with anyone without your consent. There is also a federal law (GINA) that protects you from health insurance discrimination based upon your genetics.
They do note that they only provide DNA information to law enforcement if they are required to comply with a subpoena or court order.
How does 23andMe work when it comes to cybersecurity? You hear about a new data breach happening several times a year, so it’s natural to worry whether the server holding your personal DNA information is secure.
23andMe says that they separate the database holding your testing data from the one holding your personally identifiable information (like your name, email, etc…). They also use secure connections and external firewalls to restrict server access.
If one of your main concerns is whether 23andMe is safe to share your DNA with, be sure to read our safety update at the end of the article!
How Much Does 23andMe Cost?
Just how much does 23andMe cost? If you’re going for just the ancestry service, then the price is comparable with 23andMe alternatives. If you want the health information too, then the 23andMe cost is about $100 more to add that on.
- Ancestry Service: $99
- Health + Ancestry Service: $199
- Premium Service: $749
The Premium Service is advertised as including both the health and ancestry reporting plus access to your whole genome sequence data.
How much does 23andMe cost when it’s on sale?
We have seen in 23andMe reviews of pricing over the past few months that they occasionally put the kits on sale. Sale prices we’ve noted were $69 for the Ancestry Service and $139 for Health + Ancestry Service.
Price Comparison with 23and Me Alternatives:
Are you wondering, “How much much does 23andMe cost compared to other DNA test kits?”, we’ve got a comparison with 23andMe alternative services below.
- AncestryDNA Cost: $99
- MyHeritage Cost: $109 (first year $89)
- LivingDNA: $99
When comparing 23andMe alternatives with 23andMe, it’s important to know that only 23andMe offers the genetic health marker testing.
All the DNA services we’ve reviewed, including 23andMe, allow you to export your raw data to upload into other services that offer that feature, such as Promethease.
Is Shipping Included with a 23andMe DNA Test?
When you find out the answer to, “How much does 23andMe cost?” you’ll most likely want to know if shipping is included. The company includes a pre-paid envelope to ship your sample back to them, but you do have to pay for shipping the initial testing kit.
If you want to shorten the overall time from order to results, you do have an option to get the kit shipped to you a little faster.
How long does 23andMe take to get the kit to you?
- Standard shipping is within 5-8 business days: $9.95
- Express shipping is within 2-3 business days: $19.95
Where Else Can I Buy a 23andMe Test?
If you’d rather not pay shipping along with the 23andMe cost, you can pick up in store or order the kit online from a few different retailers:
- Best Buy
- CVS Pharmacy
How Long Do You Have to Take the DNA Test?
This is especially useful to know if you’ve purchased the kit as a gift for someone else. You have 12 months to use the 23andMe DNA kit from the time it’s purchased.
23andMe Reviews & Complaints | Do People Like this DNA Test or Not?
For most people, the most important factor in how they review this kit is the 23andMe accuracy. They’re paying for results that are meaningful and can tell them more about their own family as well as important health-related information.
We’ve looked through several 23andMe reviews to find out what people have to say about this test. Is 23andMe accurate? Are there many 23andMe reviews complaints out there? We’ll find out next by hearing from a sampling of both positive and negative 23andMe reviews online.
Before we get into the 23andMe DNA reviews in detail, let’s see how this DNA test service scores overall in the ratings.
23andMe DNA Reviews & Ratings:
- Amazon (1,426 23andMe reviews) – 3.8 out of 5 stars
- Best Buy (44 23andMe reviews) – 4.7 out of 5 stars
- Trust Pilot (7 23andMe reviews) – 3.5 out of 10 stars
- Yelp (43 23andMe reviews) – 1.5 out of 5 stars
There’s a wide range of opinions out there relating to 23andMe accuracy, pricing and how helpful people found their customer service. Let’s hear what the individual users that contributed to those ratings had to say.
We begin with the 23andMe review complaints, then we’ll hear the compliments.
23andMe Negative Reviews
- One reviewer who had no problem with the 23andMe accuracy and said the health data was 98% accurate in their case, had a problem with privacy. About 3 years after using the test they were notified that their data would be sold. When they sent in a complaint, their account was closed and they lost access to their reports.
- In another unhappy 23andMe review the person never received their test results and the company said the failure was on the testing side. But the reviewer felt scammed after spending so much money and getting nothing back.
- If asked, “How accurate is 23andMe DNA testing?”, this person would say, “Not much!” They said they had their kit invalidated and the company refused to give them a refund. They also mentioned very poor customer service and waiting forever to get the test.
- A problem with kits getting lost was the complaint of a reviewer from the UK. After having 3 kits lost in the mail to them, they finally received one, but were soured on the whole process and at that point didn’t care much about 23andMe ancestry accuracy testing.
23andMe Positive Reviews
- In a heartwarming 23andMe review the reviewer praised the 23andMe ancestry accuracy and was able to find their birth family after four decades of searching.
- A reviewer on Yelp was also very pleased with the 23andMe accuracy and the detailed test reports. They said the results were insightful and concise and gave them an excellent analysis of their genetic data.
- Another happy reviewer who chose this kit because when researching “What does 23andMe test for?” it offered the extra health information. They found the results interesting and that 23andMe accuracy was good, especially on the health reports.
- The interesting results and science were the reason a reviewer gave a 5-star 23andMe review. Through their ancestry service, they had met several DNA relatives and they recommend the product often to others.
Is 23andMe Accurate?
Just how accurate is 23andMe DNA testing? The company uses US laboratories that are certified to meet professional standards meeting the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).
Their Genetic Health Risk and Carrier Status reports do meet FDA requirements for being scientifically and clinically valid. They also manufacture the testing kit according to FDA guidelines.
23andMe ancestry accuracy provides estimates down to the 0.1% of your heritage, according to the company.
The process used to ensure the accuracy of the 23andMe results is a method called genotyping that looks at hundreds of thousands of specific areas of your DNA.
In our research of 23andMe accuracy through multiple reviews, we did not see as many complaints about inaccuracy as about difficulty with the testing process itself. Some people had a hard time understanding their ancestry connection results, but if asked “Is 23andMe accurate?” would say that it seemed to be.
The biggest praise we saw in reviews were for the 23andMe accuracy of the genetic health information. Many people found it extremely helpful and spot on with the accuracy.
AdvisoryHQ’s 23andMe Reviews Conclusion
We found that the main strength of this service was 23andMe’s accuracy of results. They’ve helped people be aware of their health status and matched them with long-lost relatives.
Most people say that the test is very easy to do in their 23andMe Reviews, but there are very different experiences after the sample is sent off to the lab.
Some people get their results in a decent amount of time, about 8 weeks. But many have 23andMe review complaints about how long the results take to get back – if they come back at all.
We found several unhappy reviewers that either had tests lost in the mail or were told that DNA could not be pulled from their sample, both the initial one and the replacement sample. Poor customer support also seemed to be a theme across many 23andMe reviews.
If you’re most concerned about the question, “Is 23andMe safe” we have a safety update that you should read before deciding to use the service.
In July of 2018, 23andMe announced that their DNA test results will now be used by drug company GlaxoSmithKline to design new pharmaceuticals.
This development has many of those that used 23andMe for their personal DNA testing to feel betrayed. The company does say that customers are asked whether they want to participate in research or not and they can choose to opt out at any time.
Overall, if you’re looking to get important health information from your DNA, then 23andMe is one of the few options out there that provide health reporting from your DNA sample, and a very accurate one.
If you are just interested in finding out your heritage or whether you have any DNA relatives, then you have a few other good options among 23andMe alternative kits that you may want to explore and that may have better customer service and fewer lost kits.
When it comes to 23andMe accuracy, we’d say it’s on par with other popular services and gets praise from participants for being highly accurate.
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