People have grown increasingly curious about their genetics and ancestry, largely due to the availability and affordability of at-home DNA testings kits. More than 20 million people have got their DNA tested. Two of the most popular names in the DNA testing kit market are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. If you are curious about your own genetics and family history, you might be wondering which one is better for you. Let’s check out how they stack up.
It’s worth pointing out that whichever testing kit you choose to buy, they pose privacy risks to your biological data. AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and dozens of other companies offering at-home DNA testing kits have amassed DNA data of millions of people. They would want to monetize your biomedical data to generate revenues.
How do they work?
DNA testing kits can give you a sneak peek into your ancestry and help you track down your living relatives that you never knew existed. They can also identify the genetic diseases you are at risk of. The kits help you understand how your ancestors migrated over centuries.
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The first thing you have to do after buying the kit is to register online, create your account, and agree to the terms & conditions. Now you have to collect your DNA sample (saliva) in the provided filling tube. Follow the instructions for collecting the sample. Next, ship your sample to the testing lab. It takes companies 2-6 weeks to analyze your sample. When your test results are ready, you’ll get an email with a link to your detailed report.
According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, the DNA testing kits analyse your 22 autosomes. Each of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes (the X and Y are sex chromosomes). The autosomal DNA is the combined genetic inheritance you got from both your mother and father. It means the autosomal DNA testing can tell you about your ancestry on both sides of the family.
There are a few other types of DNA testing as well. There is Y-DNA testing that reveals your ancestry from your father’s side. The mitochondrial DNA testing traces your ancestry from the mother’s side.
The AncestryDNA kit costs $99. It can trace your ethnicity to more than 500 regions around the world. Its interactive charts and maps are easy to navigate, and help you understand your heritage. It focuses more on your genealogical history. It also helps you find any potential relatives in AncestryDNA’s database.
However, you can see only limited information such as username and profile picture of the potential family matches. If you want to see their personal contact details and family trees, you have to subscribe to the company’s monthly service.
AncestryDNA currently has a database of about 15 million users. Its analysis will get better over time as the database expands. You should know that the ethnicity percentage estimates are not 100% accurate, and may change in the future.
The company tests only autosomal DNA. It doesn’t offer Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA testing, which could independently trace your paternal or maternal ancestry. If you are concerned about genetic diseases, the company offers another product called AncestryHealth for $149. It includes everything in AncestryDNA along with personalized health reports and the ability to track family health over the last several generations.
It has a relatively smaller database of 10 million users. But it can trace your origins to more than 1,500 geographical regions worldwide. The 23andMe Ancestry+Traits kit costs $99. It offers similar ethnicity estimates as AncestryDNA. Its user interface is incredibly clean and intuitive, allowing you to easily navigate through the charts and reports.
Unlike AncestryDNA, it provides the migration paths of both paternal and maternal sides independently. It also offers genetic health, wellness testing, and carrier status along with a more detailed traits testing. You can see how your genes affect your health and well-being, and various traits such as facial features, taste, and smell.
The carrier status helps you find out whether you are at risk of any hereditary diseases. But that’s part of the Health+Ancestry service, which costs $199.
It lets you know if there is someone sharing your DNA in its database. Not only can you view their profile but also message them. But messaging is an opt-in feature, meaning both users have to opt-in before they can chat.
So, which is better for you? It depends on what you are interested in. If you are interested in DNA matches, genealogy, and family history research, AncestryDNA is a better choice. But if you want a more educational report with in-depth information on how your genes influence your traits and health issues, 23andMe could be better.