23 and Me review – Can your DNA help discover new drugs?

Rating based on our 23 and Me review

7 Facts from our 23 and Me review

  1. 23 and Me location: California, USA
  2. Products: DNA tests for ancestry and health
  3. Reports: detailed ancestry composition, ability to find relatives, various traits, carrier status, and genetic health risks
  4. Result delivery: 23 and Me results are delivered through a web portal and mobile app (iOS and Android)
  5. Privacy: active sharing of aggregate customer data with researchers
  6. 23 and Me cost: $99-$499; no free DNA analysis options
  7. Alternatives: Nebula Genomics (Whole Genome Sequencing with advanced ancestry analysis and weekly updated reports)


This is a review of 23andMe (23 and Me, 23 & me), a genetic testing company is based out of Sunnyvale, California (Silicon Valley). The 23 and Me founder is Anne Wojcicki who started the company in 2006. The company was one of the first direct-to-consumer genetic testing services that emerged in the early 2000s, allowing individuals to access information about their genetics without the involvement of medical professionals. Individuals provide saliva samples and they receive reports about their ancestry and genetic predispositions to specific traits and diseases. Over the years, the company has aggregated a lot of genetic data. To date, there are over 10 million individuals in its database. Read more in our 23andMe review!

Did you know that the 23 and Me test decodes only 0.02% of your DNA? At Nebula Genomics, we offer the most affordable Whole Genome Sequencing! This is the most complete DNA test that decodes 100% of your autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and the Y chromosome. Whole Genome Sequencing will enable you to learn more about your ancestry, family connections, and health than any other DNA test! Click here to learn more!

Review of 23 and Me Products

Customers can choose to order one of three 23 and Me DNA test kits, ranging from $99 to $499. Customers can order products and services from 23andMe.com or from major retailers such as Walgreens and Target. The collection kit includes instructions for how to provide a saliva sample to mail back to the company. Customers must register their 23andMe kit using their 23andMe login and use that 23andMe sign in to access their results.

How long does 23andMe take? Sample processing takes 2-3 weeks. Depending on which 23 and Me kit customers purchase, different reports are included. 

The company often runs popular 23andMe sales, including the annual 23andMe Black Friday sale. These sales offer kits at up to 50% up. 23andMe coupon codes on sites like Groupon also offer discounts.

Testing kits offered by 23andMe.
Testing kits offered by 23 and Me.

Review of 23 and Me Ancestry + Traits ($99)

The basic 23andMe Ancestry + Traits Service includes 80+ personalized reports for customers, including:

Ancestry Reports. 23andMe offers probably the best known for its ancestry testing. From their Ancestry Composition Report, customers can assess what proportion of their DNA comes from each of the 45 worldwide genetic populations (e.g. Ashkenazi jewish, African, Native American, etc.). Customers can also learn about the ancient origin of their ancestors via Haplogroup Reports based on their mitochondrial DNA (for males and females) and Y chromosomes (just males). Moreover, the Neanderthal Ancestry Report allows customers to understand how much of their ancestry can be traced back to Neanderthals, an extinct species of hominids.

DNA Relatives Feature. The DNA relative finder is an optional feature, which allows customers to connect with genetic relatives by identifying shared DNA segments. This enables the reconstruction of family history.

Traits Reports. Customers are able to explore how their genetics contributes to various traits they have, including reports on physical features (e.g. eye color) and food preferences (e.g. cilantro).

Review of 23 and Me Health + Ancestry ($199)

This part is a review of 23andMe health and ancestry DNA testing kit. The 23 and Me Health and Ancestry Service includes all features of the Ancestry + Traits, reporting plus additional 23andMe health reports:

Health Predispositions Reports. These are reports approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)* that help customers understand how genetics influences health outcomes. Reports include health predispositions and carrier status regarding increased risk for developing diseases, including but not limited to, increased risk of Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and Celiac Disease.

Wellness Reports. This feature allows customers to understand how their genetics can influence lifestyle.

Carrier Status Reports. These reports allow customers — that typically do not have a genetic condition — understand what genetic variants they may pass down to their children that could affect their health.

*In 2013, 23 and Me received a warning letter from the FDA to stop marketing its testing kit, which provided health information without FDA approval. With this in mind, the FDA issued guidance for companies producing direct-to-consumer tests. In 2015, 23 and Me launched a new service that met FDA requirements for being scientifically and clinically valid, and in 2017, the company was authorized to tell customers their genetic risk of developing certain medical conditions like Parkinson’s’ disease and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the terms of service, 23 and Me results are for research, informational, and educational use only and do not provide medical advice like professional medical tests.

How accurate is 23andMe? Despite its relationship with the FDA, 23andMe tests have been criticized as not being accurate enough for health care purposes.

Review of 23 and Me VIP Health + Ancestry ($499)

The 23 and Me VIP Health + Ancestry Service launched in October 2019, and it is the company’s concierge-like service. This product includes 2 Health + Ancestry kits with additional services such as overnight shipping, priority lab processing, premium customer support, and a 1-on-1 Ancestry results walkthrough for 30-minutes with a trained expert.

Sample Reports are available on 23 and Me’s website:

Sample 23andMe Health Predisposition Report.
Sample 23 and Me Health Predisposition Report.

Review of 23 and Me Privacy Policy

23 and Me secures customer data by stripping personal information, such as the customers’ names and contact information, in the hope that “[the customer] cannot reasonably be identified as an individual.” They also give the customer the option of allowing 23 and Me to store their saliva sample​ after it has been analyzed.

23 and Me states that it will not “sell, lease or rent [customer] individual-level information to any third party or to a third party for research purposes without [the customer’s] explicit consent.” However, the company does share aggregate information with third parties for other purposes, including research, business development, and sending marketing emails.

Customers can reach customer service at 1-800-239-5230.

23 and Me in the News

23 and Me is focused on using genetic information for medical research and drug discovery. With the large genomic database that the company has built, the company established its own therapeutics group in 2015 and built strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. However, there have been some concerns about the privacy issues associated with 23 and Me’s partnership with pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline. Moreover, 23 and Me sold the rights to a new drug for inflammatory diseases it developed using aggregate customer data to the Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall.

You can read more about concerns surrounding data sharing and privacy here: 23 and Me is Terrifying, but Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks

Other 23 and Me Reviews

23andme reviews are available on multiple websites.

Nebula Genomics

Nebula Genomics distinguishes itself from 23 and Me and other genetic testing companies through its focus on privacy, the use of most advanced testing technology, and the most comprehensive reporting. We finish our 23 and Me review by comparing it to Nebula Genomics and other DNA testing companies.

Your privacy is central

At Nebula Genomics, we believe that learning about how your genome encodes information about your health, personality, and ancestry can be invaluable, but we are also aware of the privacy risks. Therefore, at Nebula Genomics, we are building the first privacy-focused personal genomics service. We eliminate personal genetics companies as middlemen between data owners (i.e. customers) and data buyers (i.e. third parties), such that you can be compensated if you choose to share your data. You can read more about the importance of DNA privacy here.

Nebula Expand

You can upload your DNA data from 23 and Me to discover more about your genome with the Nebula Genomics expanded report. We create an expanded report by filling in the blanks of typical microarray-based DNA genotyping tests using statistical models, otherwise known as imputation. This expanded report gives you access to hundreds of traits and curated research studies through the Nebula Research Library, allowing you to stay up-to-date with the most cutting-edge research and what it means to you and your DNA.

Nebula Genomics 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing (NEW!)

Our goal is to empower our customers to have the option to go beyond genetics tests that are offered by companies like 23 and Me and to unlock more information about themselves. With our new 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing service, we determine 100% of your DNA. In other words, you will get 10,000 times more data than with 23 and Me, which only reads out 0.1% of your genome! Here is how it compares with the 23 and Me or Ancestry genetic test.

23 and MeAncestryDNANebula Genomics
DNA Testing MethodMicroarray-based genotypingMicroarray-based genotypingWhole Genome Sequencing (30x coverage)
Information availableAncestry, traits, health 

Ancestry, health Weekly reports based on the latest research, data exploration tools, deep ancestry
Able to upload raw DNA dataNoNoYes (23 and Me and Ancestry)
Tools to explore dataLimitedLimited Yes (learn more)
Data accessYes (23 and Me format file)Yes (Ancestry format file)Yes (FASTQ, BAM, and VCF files)
Cost$99, $199, or $499$99 or $149$0 – $299
23 and Me vs Ancestry DNA vs Nebula Genomics

Geneology enthusiasts should also take a look at MyHeritage! Did you like our 23 and Me review? Explore all our reviews here.

Are you interested in other ancestry services? Check out these reviews:

Or would you like to contribute to research but be compensated?

Also check out AncestryDNA ($99 for ancestry test, $149 for ancestry + health test), MyHeritage ($79 for ancestry test, $199 for ancestry + health test), WeGene (for Asian ancestry), Living DNA (starting at $49), DNA Painter and Luna DNA.

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