23andMe

23andMe provides detailed information on personal genetics and ancestry. The company’s tests can report on genetic health risks and carrier status for many medical conditions.

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8.6
Grand Score
8
User Score
8.6
Grand Score
8
User Score
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23andMe is an online service that offers DNA testing which reveals both deep ancestral roots and health-related genes. Two packages are available: an Ancestry package and an Ancestry + Health package, which includes health-related information on genetic risks and carrier gene status. 23andMe’s test results are available through the website, and feature many cool viewing tools, including the ability to browse by chromosome. 

23andMe has been criticized for its privacy practices, which enable it to sell genetic information to pharmaceutical companies. However, the company has genotyped over one million users. While health-related genetic test results should be interpreted with extreme caution, ideally with the help of a genetic counselor, 23andMe is a straightforward and inexpensive choice for a senior looking to learn more about their personal genetics.

Grandfolk Scoring
Cost 7/10
Cancellation 7/10
Customer support 8/10
Sample collection 8/10
Chip used 10/10
Ancestral makeup 10/10
Size of database 10/10
Average time to results 9/10
Raw DNA download 10/10
Cousin matching 10/10
Ease 7/10
Warranty 8/10
Cost
Upfront and monthly costs
$99-$199
Cancellation
Can I cancel the service?
Customers can request a cancellation within 30 days of purchase
Customer support
Is customer service available to help?
Call 6 AM-8 PM PST Mon-Fri, 8 AM-4 PM Sat-Sun, or email anytime
Sample collection
What type of DNA sample collection is used?
Saliva sample
Chip used
Which DNA sequencing chip is used?
Illumina OmniExpress Plus customized chip
Ancestral makeup
Are ancestral makeup reports provided?
Yes
Size of database
How large is the database?
Approximately one million users
Average time to results
How long does it take to get results?
Six to eight weeks after the sample is received at the lab
Raw DNA download
Can a user obtain their raw DNA file?
Yes
Cousin matching
Are users who share DNA matched?
Yes
Ease
Is the service easy to use?
Simple saliva test; test kit comes with instructions
Warranty
How easy to return/replace?
Contact Customer Care or fill out a form within 30 days
Age Score:
10
50-65 Years
9
65-75 Years
7
75-85 Years
6
85-Above

23andMe, as a web-based genetic testing service with many online visualizations and internet-based offerings, is not particularly senior-friendly. Older seniors are more likely to be less computer-savvy, and may have vision-related and other problems which can make poring over their genome a challenge. However, the benefits obtained from a 23andMe genetic report, particularly the health aspects regarding gene carrier status, could be useful for both seniors and their relatives, to learn more about potential health risks. 

Seniors not familiar with using the internet, seniors who have trouble providing a saliva sample due to vision, cognitive or other health issues, and seniors with advanced dementia will require help completing the saliva sample and interpreting and viewing the results. With adequate assistance from a loved one, and the help of a genetic counselor, 23andMe’s health services could be a powerful tool for seniors seeking to learn more about their health-related genes.

Health Score:
10
Great health
9
Good Health
8
Fair Health
8
Poor Health

As a genetic testing service that provides information on health-related genes, 23andMe can be helpful to seniors of any health status. While the reports obtained from 23andMe are not intended to replace medical advice, going over the results with a genetic counselor or medical doctor can help seniors and their families learn more about the genetic predispositions in their DNA that can confer risk to various diseases and traits. 

The web-based nature of the 23andMe service may make using the website a challenge for seniors in poor health. Seniors who have trouble navigating the internet due to vision or cognitive issues may want to ask a loved one for assistance.

Pros:

  • When test results are interpreted carefully, 23andMe can be a rich source of information about one’s ancestry (and, optionally, health) as well as personal genetics.
  • 23andMe offers an inexpensive, simple and thorough health-related genetic testing service for over 260 health conditions.
  • 23andMe features many cool analysis and visualization features of the genome, including the ability to browse results by chromosome.
  • At one million users, 23andMe’s user database is easily the largest repository of genetic information for a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service.
  • 23andMe is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market genetic tests for disease risk directly to consumers. These tests provide seniors with information about the likelihood of developing various disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Genetic testing can potentially help seniors with particular health conditions, and may help doctors determine what medication and dosage will be most effective and beneficial for them.

Cons:

  • The privacy practices of 23andMe are questionable. Users’ genetic information is regularly sold for research purposes, and has already been sold to approximately 13 pharmaceutical companies.
  • Although 23andMe’s tests are approved by the FDA, the genetic health information regarding genes that confer health risks is not meant to replace medical advice. In most cases, the correspondence between the gene and the health risk or disorder is not completely understood.23andMe cannot be used to diagnose diseases or provide a definitive risk profile, but it can tell seniors whether they carry a specific gene.
  • The risks associated with a certain gene can confer a less than 30% chance of developing the disorder, so the test results for some health-related conditions are not particularly conclusive and can be misleading.
  • Genetic testing can often be devastating for one’s family to go through, particularly when testing seniors for hereditary genes associated with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Seniors and their loved ones may want to speak to a genetic counselor before and after the tests to better understand the implications and potential consequences of having a certain gene or genetic variant.
  • 23andMe does not have a family tree feature; the company partners with MyHeritage to host trees.

Bottom Line:

23andMe is the only genetic testing service that tests for health-related genes. Although it has been criticized for its privacy policy, which enables the company to sell users’ genomes to pharmaceutical companies, 23andMe has an extensive user database. The company offers two options which enable a senior to learn more about their ancestral origins.For an additional fee, genetic tests are available for several health-relevant genes, including those found to be associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Seniors opting for 23andMe should consider speaking with a genetic counselor to interpret what their results mean, as such genes are identified by research that remains incomplete. For seniors who are interested in learning more about both their ancestral origins and their genetic risks for various diseases, 23andMe is the best choice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I take the DNA test?

Users must first register their kit on the 23andMe website. The saliva sample test arrives by mail with full instructions. The collection process is straightforward and requires few steps; the customer must collect the sample and, having followed the instructions, drop the sample in the mail to be sent to the laboratory for processing. Customers can track the status of their sample as it travels to the lab by visiting their account on the 23andMe website.

How long will it take to get my results? 

Typically, samples arrive at the lab within two to four weeks of being mailed. Please allow six to eight weeks from the time your sample arrives at the laboratory for your results to become available. Customers will receive an email when their DNA sample is accepted at the lab and enters the queue to be processed.

How can I see my results?

Once the lab has completed an analysis of a customer’s DNA sample, the results will be posted on their 23andMe account. Customers will receive an email when their DNA test results are posted to 23andMe.

More Information:

Product Details

Overview: The basic package offered by the 23andMe is the Ancestry Service, which provides genetic reports regarding one’s ancestry, parental genetic lineage, and connections to individuals with similar DNA. The Ancestry Service also provides access to the raw genetic data file obtained through genetic testing. For an additional fee, users can subscribe to additional health features which can tell them about their genetic susceptibility to various diseases.

Package Details:

Ancestry Service: For a one-time $99 fee, the Ancestry Service provides a basic overview of one’s genetic ancestry, including genetic reports, and an optional relative finder. The genetic reports include information about Ancestry Composition, the origins of maternal and paternal ancestors, Neanderthal ancestry, and an overview of the people who share the individual’s DNA. The Ancestry Service also provides access to the customer’s raw, uninterpreted genetic data file, provided that it is not used for medical or diagnostic purposes. The consumer can optionally purchase genetic health risk, genetic carrier status, and wellness and traits reports later for a $125 fee. 

Health + Ancestry Service: For a one-time $199 fee, the Health + Ancestry Service provides all of the services provided by the Ancestry Service, as well as some additional health-related services.The Health features included in the Health + Ancestry Service include genetic health risk reports for diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Carrier status reports for over 40 diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and hereditary hearing loss are also included.Of less relevance to seniors are the wellness and traits reports which provide information on traits such as lactose intolerance, genetic weight, male bald spot, and unibrow. The Health + Ancestry service also enables users to share all of their reports with friends and family.  

Optional Accessories or Add-on Services: For seniors who wish to purchase more than one Health + Ancestry report at a time, each additional kit can be purchased for 10% off. This discount does not apply to the Ancestry Service.

Additional Company Details

Contract Details: 

There is no fee to return samples to the 23andMe genetic testing lab for processing; the envelope included in the test kit is already pre-addressed and pre-paid.

Genetic information obtained from 23andMe is not meant to and should not replace medical advice from one’s doctor.23andMe users are encouraged to speak with a genetic counselor to better interpret test results.

Once the user places an order, it is not possible to change the order except to cancel it. Customers can cancel an order within 60 minutes via the order confirmation page, or by clicking a link that appears at the bottom of the confirmation email.

In some cases, 23andMe can issue full or partial refunds for orders obtained directly through the 23andMe website. To obtain a refund for 23andMe service, the company must be notified within 30 days of placing the order or paying the lab fee. To obtain a refund for an entire order, complete the order refund form on the website. To request a refund on part of an order, seniors can contact Customer Care. 

23andMe can only refund lab fees that are paid directly to 23andMe, and cannot provide refunds for services purchased through other retailers. In some cases, 23andMe may be able to provide refunds for lab fees of services purchased through third-party retailers.

Ancestry Service upgrades are non-refundable.

Warranty: N/A

Accreditations: 23andMe is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, but has a B- rating with the organization.23andME was the 2015 Gold Winner of the Driven XDesign New York Design Awards, and CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki was the 2015 recipient of the Silicon Valley Forum Visionary Awards.

Company Details: 23andMe was founded by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey, and Paul Cusenza in 2006, and launched a personal DNA sequencing service a year later. The mission of 23andMe is “to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome.” Today, 23andMe has 300 employees. The company has mapped the genome of over 3 million customers, and published over 80 peer-reviewed genetics studies in academic science journals.

Contact: 

23andMe
899 West Evelyn Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94041 
Tel: 800-239-5230
Email: https://customercare.23andme.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
Website: https://www.23andme.com/

Sheeva Azma - Senior Advisor

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