Health at 23andMe: What Can You Learn?

Editor’s note: Pending an FDA decision, 23andMe no longer offers new customers access to health reports referred to in this post. Customers who received their health information prior to November 22, 2013 will still be able to see their health reports, but those who purchased after that time will only have access to ancestry information as well as access to their uninterpreted raw data. These new customers may receive health reports in the future dependent on FDA marketing authorization.
If you’re exploring your 23andMe Health results for the first time, the sheer amount of information may seem overwhelming. There are nearly 200* reports connecting your genetics to various health conditions and traits. There is an active community of other customers asking and answering questions related to health. And if you love details, there’s also a tool for browsing your raw data — all of the hundreds of thousands of locations in your genome that we’ve determined from your sample.

So where do you start? This is a personal choice, one that is often directed by questions you may already have about diseases that run in the family or that you’re interested in for other reasons. But whether you have a set of health topics in mind or not, it may help to know what 23andMe offers the curious individual. With this series of posts on Health at 23andMe, I’ll lay out the landscape of 23andMe’s health service, dissect different types of health reports, and answer some frequently asked questions, using some of my own results as examples.

Before we get into the details of the different types of health content available to 23andMe customers, it may be helpful to review what exactly 23andMe determines from your saliva sample.

All of us have a genome made up of DNA. DNA itself is made up of individual molecules called nucleotides, which can come in four types designated by the letters ‘A’, ‘G’, ‘T’, and ‘C’. These nucleotide letters are connected together in long, linear sequences of DNA, spelling out genes and other important instructions along the way. Each of our chromosomes consists of such a sequence of DNA, millions of nucleotides in length. And since we have two copies of each chromosome — one from dad and one from mom, except for the X in males — we have two letters at each location in the genome (a “genotype”).

If you compare the sequences of letters between two people, you’ll find that they are over 99% identical. But there are places where the letters might be different. Some of these differences are large — chunks of letters are missing or duplicated, for example — or they can be different at just a single letter location, an ‘AA’ genotype in one person vs. ‘AC’ in another. These single letter differences can be quite common, and what 23andMe does is determine your genotype at hundreds of thousands of these commonly variable sites, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Researchers have been studying SNPs (pronounced “snips”) and their impact on human health for many years now, and some links are well-established. For example, a number of SNPs located in genes involved in the immune system have been associated with multiple autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. There are also many SNPs that have been associated with common cancers of the breast and prostate. But for the most part, the effect that each of these SNPs has on disease risk is small — usually modifying risk about 1-2 times compared to average.

23andMe also determines your genotypes for a number of locations where variation is much more rare and having two copies of the rare version has direct implications for disease. These are included in a number of reports under “Carrier Status” category.

Indeed, for those who don’t have specific health topics in mind but wish to explore their health content methodically, 23andMe classifies its health reports into four different categories*, each dealing with a different area of health information:

Disease Risk. Most diseases are complex, meaning many factors — both genetic and non-genetic — affect whether someone develops the disease. These reports include information on some of the known genetic factors associated with various diseases, and how your own genetics influences your risk. This category includes conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, Prostate Cancer, and Atrial Fibrillation.
Inherited Conditions (Carrier Status). Some diseases are directly caused by rare genetic variants — known as mutations in this context — in specific genes. Because two copies of a mutation are usually required to cause the disease, people with one copy usually don’t have the disease, but are called “carriers”. Our reports on Inherited Conditions will tell you whether you carry some of the more common mutations known for certain diseases. This information is especially relevant to individuals planning to have children. This category includes conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, Tay-Sachs Disease, and Sickle Cell Anemia.
Drug Response. Different people respond to drugs in different ways, and this is at least partly due to genetics. These reports include information on how your genetics may influence your sensitivity to a drug, risk of side effects, or general effectiveness. This category includes Warfarin Sensitivity, Fluorouracil Toxicity, and Response to Hepatitis C Treatment.
Traits. Eye color, hair color, whether you flush when you drink alcohol: these are all familiar things we can easily see or discern. But some traits may not be so familiar — for example, did you know that some people detect a distinct smell in their urine after eating asparagus? (Hint: it has something to do with genetics!) Other reports in this category include Lactose Intolerance, HDL Cholesterol Levels, and Male-Pattern Baldness.

Other posts in this series walk through results for these different categories and explain how to navigate each type of health report.

More Health at 23andMe posts:
Navigating Your Health ResultsAnatomy of a 4-Star Disease Risk ReportWhat’s Your Status?– (Carrier status for Inherited Conditions)When One Size Doesn’t Fit All – (the genetics of Drug Response)The Circus of Human Traits

For a refresher course on genetics or help navigating the service, visit Genetics 101 on our website, or see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Check out our companion series, Ancestry at 23andMe, and other articles in 23andMe How-To.

* Based on current products and services. Exact details subject to change.

  • MsWentz

    I am very confused about this. So far, I have a haplogroup of V3 – I cannot find one single other person with this. I don’t understand what V3 means nor can I find anything out about it. Also, as a female, can I only find my mother’s mothers mothers mothers mothers family genetically?

    • ScottH

      There is a community group within the site of other customers who have a V3 Maternal Line. Here’s the link. There is also a description of the V3 Maternal Line that should help you in figuring out how this factors into your own family’s ancestry. The answer to your final question is yes but there are ways to learn more about your paternal line. First of all, our test also looks at the autosomes — the non-sex chromosomes — so you will get DNA Relative matches from your paternal side. This will give you more information about that side of your family. If your brother, father, grandfather, father’s brother or your father’s brother’s son is tested that will give you a more complete picture however.

  • Cynthia Lindow

    Can’t you get the X portion of the XY chromosone of your father?

    • Arcadi

      You can. But only if you are a female. In fact, this is how the karyotypic sex of the embryo is determined – by the chromosome they get from the father. Y makes a male, X makes a female.

      So, a man will only have Y chromosome from his father and not the X.

    • linda vellucci

      women get one x from mom, one x from dad. males get ONE x from MOTHER ONLY.

  • Charlene McKee

    I took 23andme DNA test weeks ago and am awaiting results.
    Previously I received results from another DNA test I took at; their test included list of raw DNA sequence.
    Can I use this raw DNA sequence on 23and me site for their analysis, while I am awaiting results from 23and me test?

    • ScottH

      No we don’t have a process to upload other companies data into our system. But we’ve always allowed our customers access to their raw data for download and use it as they wish.

  • Bobbi

    I see that my genotype is GG. What does that mean? I saw that I am in the HV halotype. Is that just on the maternal side or is it both sides? I saw HV1,2, and 3 but nothing about just HV. I am still waiting on the DNA reports of the family history so I can do research for doing a family tree.

    • ScottH

      What we look at is your genotype at about a million locations — single nucleotide polymorphims (SNPs) — on your genome. So when you say you are GG, what it means depends on where you are GG. But if you look at one of the specific reports — for instance the report on Age-related Macular Degeneration —you might find that your genotype is AA at the SNP rs1061147, and this might increase your risk for AMD. On the second part of your question related to your maternal haplogroup — HV. This just looks at your maternal line. It can tell you about your ancestral origins along that line. Women do not get their paternal line, but if they have a male relative on their paternal line tested — their father, brother, father’s brother, father’s brother’s sons or their father’s father — they can learn their paternal line. Here’s more about women and the paternal line.

  • Hellen Earles

    I am very disappointed in the results of my dna test. My father’s mother was Choctaw Indian and it does not show in my results. And I was more interested in my parents ancestry than where they came from over 500 years ago even if that is sort of interesting.

    • Lori

      If you are a woman, you cannot get anything from your father’s line. You must get your brother, your father’s brother or father’s brother’s son to join 23andme and share their genome with you. I’m still awaiting my results but have read quite a bit about what info is available to me.

      • Nicole

        What do you mean “women don’t get their paternal line”? Women only get genetic info from one side of their family? That seems to contradict everything I’ve read so far about testing results/procedures.

        • ScottH

          Nicole, We are only talking about the sex chromosome. Women do not get a Y chromosome. So we cannot determine her paternal line, or paternal haplogroup. That said a woman still gets half of her DNA from her mother and half from her father. Everyone shares about 50 percent of their genetics from their mother and their father. Your results will reflect that. So your health results are based on your DNA and what you got from both your mother and your father. Although a woman customer will not get her paternal haplogroup, there is other ancestry information — their Ancestry Composition as well as their DNA Relative matches — reflect what they inherited from both their mother and their father.

        • Bethany

          Well If I can only get my maternal side then I will not be able to get my mothers father side and that is what I am interested in. I am not paying for test for the whole family to fill in the gaps.

  • Eugene Watson

    MY DNA is being analyzed at this time there. I have a question on finding Native American, Cherokee, Blood DNA links.
    My Father had always said that his Mother, my Grandmother, is part Cherokee. Well I nave traced my Grandmother’s Mother to Northeast Georgia, in the Cherokee area of Georgia.
    When my DNA TEST IS COMPLETED, will it be able to link a common Cherokee gene to my Grandmother, my Father’s Mother?
    On a previous DNA test it showed a 2% undetermined DNA. How am I supposed to use an”undetermined” analysis of my DNA. Will you be Ble to say, this is Native American DNA and you have it to so e degree?

    • ScottH

      We can detect Native American ancestry. 23andMe has several features that can reveal genetic evidence of Native American ancestry, although they are not considered a confirmatory test or proof of such ancestry in a legal context.

      Ancestry Composition

      The feature tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. Click the zoom control or the ancestry labels to explore your regional results, which may include evidence of DNA from the native peoples of North, Central, and South America. Note that this feature does not specify ancestry from a particular Native American group.

      Maternal and Paternal Line

      These pages may indicate evidence of Native American ancestry based on your haplogroup assignment.

      It is important to note that sometimes, even if a person’s great, great grandmother, for instance, was considered to be Native American, the DNA does not reveal the Native American ancestry because evidence is lost each generation. In general, however, Native American ancestry within the last few generations is likely to reveal itself through our features.

  • AKissling

    I decided to use this service because I have some strange medical symptoms and none of my specialist can seem to find the underlying cause. One of my doctors suggested having the mayo clinic do genome testing, but, I decided to try this first. Is it possible that this service may help me figure out my medical mystery? Do I get to see my entire sequence so that I can research info that may not be provided on this site?Can I use my results with my doctors or are they generally or most likely dismissive(obviously not all would be) about the use of this service?

    • ScottH

      Sorry to hear about your health issues. In answer to your first question, we do not sequence. We genotype.

      Genotyping is the process of determining which genetic variants an individual possesses. For looking at many different variants at once, especially common variants, genotyping “chips” or arrays are an efficient and accurate option. We provide you with the ability to download your raw data and use that as you wish.

      Sequencing is a method used to determine the exact sequence of a certain length of DNA. You can sequence a short piece, the whole genome, or parts of the genome (such as the “exome,” which are the parts of the genome that contain genes). Depending on the location, a given stretch may include some DNA that varies between individuals, like SNPs, in addition to regions that are constant. Thus, sequencing can be used to genotype someone for known variants, as well as identify variants that may be unique to that person.

      For those with specific needs (undiagnosed medical issues, for example, or intense curiosity and a generous budget), sequencing will become a more and more attractive option. For now, though, genotyping technologies such as those used by 23andMe provide an efficient and cost-effective way of obtaining more than enough genetic information for scientists – and you – to study.

  • Tolai Pei

    I just ordered my kit and anxiously waiting. As much as I am excited about this process, reading these posts and reviewing some of the contents on this website is giving me a headache. The coding language, science mambo-jumbo is driving me crazy.
    Do I need to hire a genealogy/DNA expert to translate my results, when it arrives or will it be easy for this lazy old fart to understand? I’m still excited about it.

    • ScottH

      We do our best to make things understandable and are always trying to improve. That said there is also a very rich and vibrant community of users on the site who help each other finding interesting, fun and new ways of using the data. Hope you enjoy exploring your results when they come in.

  • Sharlene Salmon Weeks

    I don’t have a father, father’s brother, brother. My half brother is deceased as well. How would his son’d fit into the equation? This would be my father’s son’s sons.

    You don’t mention nephews…as this is all I have to use.


    • Sharlene Salmon Weeks

      My father’s son’s son is by another marriage I might add. My half brother’s son.

      Thanks Again

  • Melissa H

    Being adopted & having only a birth sister that is possibly my b-dad’s daughter as well, it is a bit frustrating reading all of this. Our birth mother has passed & her father before we were even born. We do have a cousin on our b-mother’s side, but NOTHING on our b-dad’s side. Will we find ANYthing that will help clue us in on our dad’s/dads’ side…a connection to other people? Will we be able to see if we are full sisters? Will our DNA show health issues on the paternal side (I am thinking yes on this matter)?

    • ScottH

      Melissa, Yes you will get information about the autosomal DNA that you get from both your mother and father. This will inform you about your health, but also your ancestry. Your DNA relatives will be matches from all branches of your family tree. So looking at those matches may give you some insight into your paternal ancestry. In the DNA Relative tool you’ll see information about matches’ surnames, and where they come from. That might be useful for you and your sister. You won’t however be able to learn about your paternal haplogroup without having a male on your paternal line tested, because the paternal haplogroup is inherited through the Y chromosome, which is only passed from father to son.

  • Joan

    Hi just saw in a reply to Hellen that you cannot get anything from your father’s side if you are a woman and do not have a male’s family DNA to test, but in a reply to Melissa you say she will get info from both sides. Confused … as i am seeking info / heritage on my unknown biological father, whom i mostly got my looks from ( as i look nothing like my biological mother ). Will i find out anything about some-one who i have no information about at all ?

    • ScottH

      Joan, Sorry for the confusion. As a woman you will not be able to learn you paternal line unless you have a male relative on your father’s side tested. But, and this was probably where the confusion came in, that doesn’t mean you do not get anything from your father’s side. The reason a woman doesn’t get results related to their paternal line is because they do not get a Y chromosome from their father. That is only passed from father to son. But our test also looks at the autosomes, all the other non-sex chromosomes. These are inherited from both your father and mother. So, for instance, when we get you results for your ancestry composition that shows you the ancestry that you inherited from both your mother and father. In addition your DNA Relatives matches are from all branches of your family tree and your health results represent things you inherited from both your mother and father.

  • Constance Pousson

    I am an only child with no living male relatives of which I am aware. What will I learn about my paternal family history? I’m 90 years old and very unlikely to find any male relatives. If there are any, they are all in Europe.

    • ScottH

      Although you won’t be able to learn about your paternal your paternal line, you can still learn a lot. The autosomes – chromosomes 1 to 22 – and the X chromosome are inherited from all sides of your family tree and therefore capture information about both your maternal and paternal ancestry. 23andMe’s Ancestry Composition will break down that ancestry by geographic origin — your percentage of European or African or Asian ancestry, which comes from both sides of your family. In addition matches found through DNA Relatives come from all parts of your family tree. Together this can give you insight to father’s and mother’s side of the family.

  • Kynan

    If the spit contains bubbles but above the line on the tube is that acceptable?

    • ScottH

      Kynan, that’s OK. Here’s a link to tips on submitting your sample.

      • Nicole

        What if I accidently touched the inside of the tube lid? Will it pick up other material from my finger that may complicate the results?

        • ScottH

          Nicole, This shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Cindy

    I would like to submit my mother’s saliva for analysis. She was born in 1917. Both her parents were born in Ireland (1870) and we know the parish and county of each of her parents. However, we would like to know the parish her ancestors were born in prior to 1850. Can you give us this information? IrelandReaching Out said to ask you the question as their parish DNA reference is done through you.
    Hoping to hear a response quickly.

    • ScottH

      Cindy, We cannot identify the specific parish your mother’s ancestors come from. Our ancestry tools can identify more broadly the geographic origins of a person’s ancestors, in your mother’s case her Irish heritage, but we cannot specify where in Ireland that ancestry comes from. Here’s a link that gives you more detail on ancestry results.

  • Shawn

    I submitted a sample in hope of finding out the ancestry of my father’s mother, who was adopted, and my mother’s father, who we have no information about. I saw that women can’t find out about their paternal lines with out a male sample, is the opposite true for men? Will I be able to find out about my mother’s ancestry?

    • ScottH

      Shawn, The analysis performed is the same for men and women, and both men and women receive ancestry and health information based on DNA they receive from both parents.

      Each individual has two types of chromosomes: sex chromosomes, and autosomes. The X and Y chromosomes are the sex chromosomes, and they determine whether you’re female or male. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have an X and a Y. The other 22 chromosomes, which both men and women have, are called autosomes.

      We analyze nearly one million positions of the 22 autosomes and this is the same for women and men. For each pair of these chromosomes one comes from your mother and the other from your father: two copies of the same recipe with slightly different ingredients. The autosomes are what we use to determine your DNA Relatives, your Ancestry Composition results, your health and trait reports, and many other features. The great majority of our features are based on the autosomes.

      However, since men and women have different sex chromosomes, there are some small differences in the information they will receive. For example, men will only display a single X chromosome in features such as Ancestry Composition, while women will have two X chromsomes.

      Since women have two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y, the 23andMe does not directly provide paternal haplogroup assignments for women. The paternal haplogroup is traced through the Y chromosome, which women do not inherit.

      For females, if a male relative such as your father, brother, paternal uncle or paternal male cousin were to be genotyped then you would be able to infer your own paternal haplogroup information from his. If your brother were to provide a sample, you would learn your maternal haplogroup as well as your paternal haplogroup. However, if your father or father’s brother were to provide a sample, you would learn your paternal haplogroup, but not your maternal haplogroup since he does not share your mother. If your biological father participates, you can link his paternal haplogroup to your profile so that it will appear on your own Paternal Line page.

      Haplogroups are one small part of your ancestry analysis. The test provides you with information from all branches of your family tree using your autosomal DNA.

  • Amber

    I have recently discovered that I have been lied to my entire life about the ancestry of my father and his entire linage. I am 53, blond, blue eyes and fair. All of my 6 children are the same. My mother looks like me. My sister, is dark, with very dark eyes, dark hair, darker skin and one of her children is dark, like my father. I was always told that my father was French. Now the proof is in that He was 100% Mexican. I am 50% Mexican for 5 generations back. There is no one in his entire family for generations that looks like me. Everyone who knows me, tells me this is impossible. i just want to know the truth.
    I took this DNA test to see if it is possible that my father is not my biological father. He has since passed, and he had only 4 sisters. Will this test show my complete DNA make up from both my mother AND father? Will it show the Mexican/Hispanic heritage that accounts for 50% of me?

    • ScottH

      Amber, You can learn a lot about your ancestry testing with 23andMe. But whether you can confirm your paternity is another matter. As a woman, you do not inherit a y chromosome from your father, so you will not be able to determine the paternal line through our testing, but you will still be able to learn a lot about both the health and ancestry traits in received from your father. Using DNA Relatives you will be matched with relatives from both your maternal and paternal side. And your Ancestry Composition reports on what percent of your DNA comes from populations around the world, ranging from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and more. Break European ancestry down into distinct regions such as the British Isles, Scandinavia, Italy and Ashkenazi Jewish. People with mixed ancestry, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans will also get a detailed breakdown.

      • ET

        It was my understanding that you either inherit an X or a Y chromosome from your father (but always an X from your mother). If you inherit an X chromosome from your father, aren’t you actually inheriting MORE information from him than you would if you got a Y, since the X chromosome contains vastly more information than the Y?

    • Ed Romero

      Amber, you can be French and Mexican at the same time, the French were in Mexico for many years. I have always considered myself Mexican-American. I was shocked to learn that I’m in Haplogroug D American Indian with ties back to the 1300’s (and much earlier) around China, Siberia and Korea, these Ancestors became the American Indians. There is also another set of Ancestors from the same region, instead of crossing into what is Alaska today, they immigrated South going through the Ukraine, Finland, Poland, German, France, England and finally ending up in Spain, leaving their DNA in all the areas that they passed. These Spanish Ancestors became the Conquistador’s of the New World. Many of them were Spanish-French Basque and almost all of them were Jews that were forced to become Catholic’s by the Spanish Queen Isabela. As you become more educated in DNA, you are going to be surprised at some of the things that you knew nothing about, most of them will be good. Good Luck Ed

  • Tammy V.

    So my father has passed away but I have convinced my one living uncle to send in a sample (waiting for that). What more will I expect to see once his sample arrives? I’m a bit confused as 23andme does allow me to see relatives from my father’s side but nothing else? I’m not understanding this, can someone explain?

    • ScottH

      By having your father’s brother tested you will learn your father’s paternal haplogroup. This will inform you more about your ancestry and what came from your mother and what came from your father. It can also help you figure out which side of the family your DNA Relatives come from. If you share with your father’s brother, you will see his name and paternal haplogroup listed on the right-hand side of the Paternal Line page under Your Family and Friends. You can click on your shared paternal line to learn more about it. You can also add your paternal haplogroup to your profile in the “About Me” section.

  • Sandy

    We are especially interested in identifying the long QT DNA.

  • Amber

    Thank you for the helpful answer to my last question.
    I have three sons and a boy first cousin from my fathers side. Would my sons’ DNA be able to show my fathers haplogroup? Or would the first cousin be a better candidate?

    • Amber

      I may be getting this, bear with me…my sons’ paternal haplogroup would be from THEIR father, not my father. My boy cousin, since he is the son of my fathers sister, would have HIS father’s haplogroup. So, I’m seeing that I am batting zero as far as finding MY father’s haplogroup. Right?!?!

      • ScottH

        Amber, That’s correct. Unless you are able to test someone on your father’s line, his brother, his brother’s son or a male cousin who is on that paternal line than you would not be able to find his haplogroup.

  • Nicole

    HI. I was Adopted into my family. I do not have any connections with my blood line, therefore I know nothing about my family health issues\roots. Is 23andme something I should pursue in order to learn about myself?

    • ScottH

      Hi Nicole, 23andMe isn’t set up for you to find your biological parents, but many adoptees find the information — from our features connecting you with people you are related to, to information about your health — very helpful. Here is a link for what you can learn as an adoptee.
      For individuals with really no information about their biological family, much of what they get from 23andMe is valuable, whether it’s their ancestry composition, their inherited health risks or the DNA relatives they are connected with through the service.

  • Frances

    The first run of my sample states there was not enough DNA in my sample to do a run. They needed to do another run to try to come up with any. Is this usual, and if they can’t find enough DNA on the second run, will I have to buy another kit and try again ?

    • ScottH

      The way the process works is that if the first attempt at DNA extraction does not yield satisfactory results, a second attempt is made with some saliva that was set aside before the process was started. If this second try fails, we contact the customer and send a free replacement kit so he or she can spit again. The hope is that this second sample will be DNA-rich and ready to go!

      The most common cause of low DNA is that the preservative solution is not fully released into the tube. But some people just naturally have low DNA in their saliva. If a customer is sent a replacement kit, and two tries on the new saliva sample still don’t yield enough DNA, then unfortunately the customer probably won’t be able to use our service and a refund is made. Luckily, this is a very rare occurrence.

  • James

    I believe my grandfather (my mothers father) may be Native american. Will my being male make it harder to determine if I do have native american genes?

    • ScottH

      No. Currently 23andMe has several features that can reveal genetic evidence of Native American ancestry, although they are not considered a confirmatory test or proof of such ancestry in a legal context. We also cannot identify tribal origins. It is also important to note that sometimes, even if a person’s great, great grandmother, for instance, was considered to be Native American, the DNA does not reveal the Native American ancestry because evidence is lost each generation. In general, however, Native American ancestry within the last few generations is likely to reveal itself through our features.

  • Janet Moore

    Just got my results from 23andme. I am a D1 on maternal side. 94 plus percent Euro and 4.7 percent Native American. Need help what does this mean. Everyone else has lots of letters or numbers. I feel like a missing link. What is the 2.8 percent caveman.

    • charles wenger

      The caveman comes from the neanderthal species of humans that were indiginous to europe when your group migrated there 10’s of thousands of years ago. I also sent my dna to the project of natioal geographic society. I have a few percent neanderthal as well as denisovan from Siberia. Denisovan is another ancient species that was merged with migrating peoples.This species also faded away.Take a look at the site and you can see the migrations of peoples through many thousands of years. This is the second time with a reply,hopefully it will stay posted.

      • slushark

        we all have a bit of neanderthal

  • Trudy Price

    My mother passed away, age 80, in 2000 but I kept a sample of her hair. Can you do DNA testing on her hair. She had some kind of alleged dementia. The hospice nurse said she didn’t think my mother had dementia but rather a series of many stokes. I couldn’t bring myself to do an autopsy on her brain but kept her hair sample thinking that this may answer some questions someday. My uncle, her brother, had some type of dementia and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s I think. Both siblings started an early decline in their late 50’s to early 60’s. I am now 64 and have no symptoms and doesn’t appear that I am predisposed to this illness. Sorry for the length of this post- main question can you test hair, not bleached or dyed and get any answers? Thanks

    • ScottH

      Trudy, Our technology does not allow for DNA testing of hair.

      • Trudy Price

        Thanks so much for your reply.
        Best Regards!

  • Maxine Moran

    My maternal haplogroup is J1c. Please tell me what this means? I would like an explanation of each individual digit. Thank you.

    • ScottH

      Each one of us can trace our ancestry back through our mother, our mother’s mother, her mother, and so on. And there is one piece of our DNA that has been inherited along that exact, maternal line. By examining mutations in this segment of DNA, called mitochondrial DNA because it resides in parts of the cell called mitochondria, we can learn about our line of maternal ancestors – in particular, where these ancestors came from. Sets of similar, closely related maternal lines are called “haplogroups” and are given labels such as “J1c3″ or “X2b”. Numerous researchers around the world study these maternal haplogroups to better understand where they originated and where people with the haplogroups have migrated over the course of thousands of years. 23andMe interprets the haplogroups for customers based on the publications of these researchers.
      If you’d like to learn more about your maternal haplogroup, you can go your Maternal Line page. Where you’ll find more information about your specific haplogroup.

  • ingrid

    if we can only learn about our mothers, where can we find out about fathers?

    • ScottH

      As a woman you do not inherit a y chromosome from your father. This is what is used to track your paternal haplogroup. That said, it doesn’t mean that you do not get any information about your father. The matches you get in DNA Relatives are from all sides of your family and your health results are based on the DNA you received from both of your parents. If you’d like to learn more about the differences between men and women’s results go here.

  • Rob

    Do you test for valine/methionine at codon 129 of the prion protein gene? This is potentially associated with incubation time for vCJD, and may have a bearing on other prion associated diseases.

  • laura

    Excited to hear my results but wondering how much of this information is available to outside sources such as insurance companies and any governmental agencies. Thanks You.

    • ScottH

      23andMe takes seriously the trust you place in us, using a range of reasonable physical, technical and administrative measures to safeguard your personal information. Those measures are in accordance with current technological and industry standards and are meant to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure of information, as well as maintain data accuracy, and to ensure the appropriate use of information. The only way your data would be shared with third parties would be by your choice. 23andMe cannot secure personal data that you release on your own or that you request us to release. If you ask your physician to incorporate your data into your medical record, for example, under federal regulations the government may access it for law enforcement purposes. We ask you therefore to be responsible for safeguarding your password, secret questions and answers, and other authentication information you use to access our services.

  • Mary ann

    My father died in 2006. He left pipes with dried saliva. Is it possible to extract dna from this dried saliva? I would like to learn more about my paternal side haplogroup and have no brothers or other male-line relatives willing to do a dna test.
    Thanks, Mary Ann

    • ScottH

      Mary Ann, We cannot take DNA samples from dried saliva with our process.

  • Sanjin

    Hello, I was just wondering about the accuracy of the testing. I’m of former Yugoslavian origin, and I have heritage from three ethnic groups (that I know of). I was wondering how specific the results would be (for example if I was proven to be Italian, would it specify a certain region from Italy?). Also, how far back does this DNA testing go? Does it show DNA from multiple generations or just DNA from one specified time period? (for example does it show that 3000 years ago my ancestors came from Greece, then mixed with Slavic groups 2000 years ago) or just that 10,000 years ago, my ancestors were such and such. Thank you for the feedback in advance.

    • ScottH

      On your questions of accuracy, I’ll repeat something we’ve said before:

      As part of our quality control process, an anonymized set of data is reviewed to ensure that it meets our quality standards prior to being loaded into your account. The data are reviewed for call rate and accuracy. The vast majority of the variants on our chip have a 98% or greater call rate, meaning that the chip can provide accurate data for more than 98% of those variants in any particular person. This includes SNPs associated with our specific Health and Ancestry features. SNPs for which a confident determination cannot be made are reported as “no calls.” In the event that the overall call rate for a sample falls below our threshold, the sample is subject to reanalysis.

      As to our questions about how far back we go in terms of making matches with DNA Relatives those matches go back about five or six generations. For questions of deep ancestry we show you your haplogroup assignments. This can give you some insight into your ancestral origins much farther back in time. Here is a link to more about our ancestry offerings.

  • Sanjin

    Hello, I was also wondering about whether or not the results show which kind of heritage comes from which parent. Thank you in advance.

    • ScottH

      Yes you can do this if one of your parents has been tested. You can see a “Split View” in Ancestry Composition and that shows the maternal and paternal contributions to an individual’s ancestry.

  • Alicia

    Would one be able to check through 23andme all the SNPs listed in SNPedia?
    Would the testing provide any information regarding CNVs as well?

    • ScottH

      Alicia, Your raw data includes about a million SNPs. Many of those are listed on SNPedia. Our algorithms cannot reliably determine from the raw genotype data whether three chromosomes are indeed present. “No Calls” may happen more frequently for markers in regions affected by copy number variation, but “No Calls” may also occur for other reasons. As our technology is not designed to analyze for repeated, inserted, inverted or deleted segments of DNA, in most cases we cannot provide information about copy number or other genetic features that are related to the number or order of base pairs present.

  • Leslie


    Is it possible to get tested anonymously?


    • ScottH

      The short answer is no. We have designed our service to give customers control over how much information they share. That includes giving our customers the prerogative to use a pseudonym when connecting with other 23andMe Community Members, if they wish. But no matter how you choose to identify yourself in our online community, our Terms of Service require that you provide true and accurate registration information and submit either your own saliva or that of a person from whom you have authorization.

      What this means is when you register your kit, you must use your true name. Once your kit has been registered, you may change your online profile name to any name you wish to use from within your account settings. Once your sample reaches the laboratory, it is identified by the unique anonymous barcode printed directly on the sample tube. Your ordering information (shipping address, credit card information, etc.) is stored separately from your genetic data, and connecting the two would require breaching several layers of security.

      Finally, our sampling procedure is specifically designed to protect individuals from having their saliva submitted without their permission. The amount of saliva we require, 2.5 milliliters or about a half teaspoon, is far too much to retrieve from a used toothbrush, drinking glass, cigarette butt, etc. In fact, it takes most people a few minutes of concentrated spitting to produce an adequate sample.

  • Larry

    I’m working on set up of this site. I’ve started on my geneology too. But I’ve noticed that the saying across the top that the Mendels are now showing.. Why doesn’t that go away after you’ve started doing your own family tree? Some of the other things on the screen ought to change after you manipulated some of it’s features as well. Anyone else having this problem? Or is it a problem? Am I over thinking this?

    • ScottH

      If you’d prefer not to see the Mendels or the HapMap people in your account, go to your Account Settings and uncheck the boxes under “Example Profiles.”

  • Carol Michels

    Do you test for Neurofibromatosis?

    • 23blog

      Carol, Thanks for the note. Neurofibromatosis is an inherited condition for which we do not currently report on. If you’d like to see the list of 40 inherited conditions that we do include in our reports you can look here:

      • Carol Michels

        I’m hoping that you’ll consider adding this to your list. It affects my husband, my mother-in-law, my brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, step-daughter, and one of my grandsons. If I knew I had the gene, I would not procreate. It’s a devastating disease. Here is some info on the genetics of it:

        Thank you.

        • Darla Griffis

          This morning I was also researching whether or not NF was tested for because my daughter has one feature. We have not been able to detect another feature at this time. It would be great if this was tested for so I could have some piece of mind on the issue. Thank you.

      • Vicki Giansante

        I agree with Carol and Darla. Please consider adding Neurofibromatosis to the diseases that you test for, for the peace of mind of those affected by this devastating disease. My husband was diagnosed after we had a family and I an very concerned about our children.

    • Matthew Hatfield

      Hello there Carol, I was curious about that as well, I too Have NF type 1 and 2, Tumors, Spots and all. and was kind of bummed when I did not see it listed. I was more interested in my ancestry, I have found that some of the health factors, traits, and inherited conditions, can sometimes be a little off? .. Like it says I most likely have blue eyes, although my eyes are green, my brother and all my nephews and nieces have blue eyes, BUT I look more like my dad then my brothers. but still interesting none the less, I found out why I never get the common flu, I am Nerovirus resistant? BUT it still got a lot of things right, and some things mixed..

    • 23blog

      Carol, Thanks for the note. Neurofibromatosis is an inherited condition for which we do not currently report on. If you’d like to see the list of 40 inherited conditions that we do include in our reports you can look here:

  • Elaine Yastishock

    As I await my results, I have a few questions:
    1) How specific are you with eastern European ethnic group identities?
    Our family–on both sides–are from the same small Slavic ethnic group (Carpatho-Rusyns) located on the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland. Historically and culturally we’re supposedly most related to Ukrainians (Christian), but Poles, Russians, Slovaks, Jews, Hungarians, and others were around. I know you show Ashkenazy Jewish heritage, but what about Ukrainian versus Russian versus Polish, etc? It would be wonderful if the Carpatho-Rusyns had their own ethnic grouping but I am afraid to hope for that given our small numbers.
    2) My female first cousin had her DNA previously tested on (I don’t know exactly when.) Is there any way to “upload” those results to compare to my 23andMe results? (I assume ‘no’ but thought I should ask.)
    3) As a woman, do I carry my PATERNAL grandmother’s haplo-group information? Obviously, she and my mother are from 2 different lines. (If no, that’s why I want to see my female first cousin’s DNA since she’s the daughter of my grandmother’s daughter.)

    (Note: My parents and brother are dead. But I still have one maternal uncle with a son, a paternal aunt, several male first cousins descended from my paternal uncles, and female first cousins from paternal aunts and uncles.) One of my paternal first cousins (male) just ordered his 23and Me kit, so my sisters and I will have our father’s haplo-group after all.

    Thank you.

  • Fiona Potter

    Please tell me whether the results of the test are affected by the length of time the saliva is in the post (I live in the UK). Also, I cannot complete the registration form because it does not recognise a UK zip code

  • Crystal

    I just got notification that my kit had been received and I was wondering if DNA that was done through can be used to determine parentage? I believe that I have found my birth father and was hopeful that his DNA through an ancestry can be used to help in that determination. Anxious to hear from you. Thanks

  • 23blog

    Crystal, I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. I can tell you that we do not upload data from other testing services.

  • Brian Pridham

    A Message to the Management:

    Thank you for sending the letter of explanation, regarding the recent FDA action, to all of your clients.

    I believe that the risks the FDA cited are risks that we clients have
    chosen to take after reading 23andMe’s terms of agreement. Further, I
    understand that the FDA’s concerns are not relative to the analysis but
    rather to the clinical explanations based on those analyses and I
    believe that by getting accurate test results, I am also getting full
    (or almost full) return on my investment. If I choose to entrust the
    clinical interpretation of my results to a third party/parties, then I
    can do so.

    In short, I believe that the FDA’s action have no bearing on
    the agreement I have with 23andMe and I hope that the company will be
    able to follow through with their business paradigm. Thanks for hanging
    in there – you have my full support.

    Brian P

    • Ann Kosa

      I am deeply disturbed by this interference in my personal decision making. FDA has allowed exposure to many dangerous substances over the years. It is laughable that they would claim to protect me by denying me access to vital health information. What can we do to support the good fight?

      • PoeTentiate

        The FDA constantly makes decisions regarding our health, based on their interpretation of “for our own good”. Why is an arbitrary ruling of this sort a surprise to anyone?

  • Leslie

    2 questions:
    – does this test reveal the predisposition to obesity?
    – does this test indicate telomeres length – or equivalent age of the DNA?
    Many thanks!

  • Leslie

    2 questions:
    – do you test for genetic predisposition to obesity?
    – do you test for telomeres length – or DNA age?
    Many thanks

  • 23blog

    Here is a link to the report that looks at biological aging – And here’s a link to a report we do on obesity –

  • @@Tereasa@@

    I just received my kit and got the email about the FDA discontinuing the medical analysis part of results. What can be done with the raw data that will be provided? Are they sites that we can utilize to analyze the data or can one take the date to a doctor to be analyzed? Also, if the FDA changes their rulings and allows for analysis at a later date, will I be eligible for that.
    Tereasa Cruz

    • Scott23H

      There are third party sites that link raw data to scientific studies showing genetic associations with various health conditions. I don’t know of any doctor that is currently interpreting raw data from 23andMe results, but there may be doctors out there doing that.
      And in answer to your last question, yes as we get FDA approval we will return those approved results to customers.

  • Scott23H

    I should have been more specific in the note. If you purchased your kit before November 22nd you will get both health and ancestry data.

  • James C

    23andMe, Since you can no longer sell us the health related results, can you give them to us free of charge or tell us how to interpret the results ourselves? I
    personally created my 23andMe logon in October and took every survey
    offered so I would have my answers already in your database before my
    test results were available. Doing this took time. I finished the
    surveys and purchased my kit on November the 25th. Now I can’t believe 4
    days stands between me and seeing an experts interpretation of my
    results. I am an adoptee and as such have no other way than genetic
    testing to find out what inherited diseases or conditions may run in my
    (biological) family. Thank you FDA. When my doctors ask for my medical
    history I have to say I have none. This automatically puts me in the
    highest risk category for any inheritable condition. I believe this
    lack of knowledge incurs additional costs for additional testing and
    delays treatment while waiting for these results. People of the FDA, do you
    know if your parents had heart disease? Do you know if your brothers
    and sisters have diabetes? Did your grandfather go bald? Does your
    grandmother have brown eyes or blue eyes? If you answered yes to any of
    those questions then either you are not adopted or you bought your kit
    four days before I did. Do you have more right to know this information
    than I do? Please do not censor these results. Some people may simply want to
    know more, but for those such as myself we actually “need” to know.

    • Dara

      I agree with you that we all read the information prior to purchasing and supplying our samples for testing. I was asked by my doctor to do the testing through 23&me. I greatly need the information so my doctor can interpret the information so she can prescribe what I need to improve my health. I hope that I will still receive the data. Is the data in a format that we can load it into other reports? Or, is that what you have removed due to the FDA?
      I am very debilitated and sick so this is very important to me. I have no quality of life at this point, so the FDA is not helping me at all.
      I was so happy that 23&me was going to supply the information my doctor needed to help me. I sure hope the FDA backs off and allows you to proceed as before.
      Thank you for doing all that you do.

  • charles wenger

    I’m looking forward to the results.I also sent my dna to the project. I have a trace on my ancestry back over 50k years. I have some Neanderthal(caveman) as well as Denisovan, from Siberia.

  • Scott23H

    Steve, I’m not sure when you sent in your sample. I think the processing time has been in the 4 to 6 week range. You can also check where you are at in the process by logging in. Thanks.

  • Hannah

    Even though I mostly purchased the kit for genealogical reasons, the health information was part of my decision-making process. I purchased my kit on 11/25 and am a bit annoyed that I purchased under one set of expressed conditions but am subject to another. Really wish the agreement between FDA and 23andMe had taken that into consideration. I also don’t appreciate the FDA erring on the side of assuming ignorance on my part with regard to how I handle information about my own body.

    • Scott23H

      Hannah, All we can do now is offer our apologies and pledge to get through this process as quickly as possible. Again if you’d like a refund it is still available for those who purchases as of the 22nd or later. Thanks.

      • Hannah

        No. No. I appreciate the situation 23andMe is in. Thanks.

  • Scott23H

    We are changing our chip — so not all the same SNPs are on v4 that were on v3 — but the new chip was a custom design that allows us to the same health and ancestry reports as we did before. That said, until we get approval from the FDA we cannot report health information to customers.

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