The understanding of genetics has come a long way since James Watson and Francis Crick proposed the idea of a double helix DNA structure in the 1950s. DNA was first used to secure a criminal conviction in America in 1987, but for years after that, juries were skeptical about the veracity of DNA evidence. Now, the science is more widely understood and accepted, and commercial uses for DNA testing have become commonplace. There are now a variety of DNA kits on the market that can help you better understand who you are, the unique things about your genetics, and the history of your ancestors.
DNA testing kits are convenient; they are typically shipped directly to you, and then you send it back with a saliva sample and some basic information. But they are not cheap. That’s why it helps to know what questions you want answered before paying for a kit. That way, you avoid paying for a test that won’t give you the information you really want. Below we’ve run down a few of the options on the market, and what information they do and don’t provide.
1. 23andMe DNA Test – Health + Ancestry Personal Genetic Service
This is the most comprehensive option on this list, and it’s good for discovering details about your ancestry and your health. Along with a raw data report, 23andMe will provide analysis of the information to give you a snapshot of the health issues you may be more predisposed to because of your DNA. You’ll also get details of your ethnic background, including percentage reports on regions.
Pros: Comprehensive and detailed health report, in addition to ancestry.
Cons: Not as thorough ancestry information as AncestryDNA.
2. AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity
As the name implies, Ancestry is designed for discovering one’s familial links and ethnic background. Its online database can help you construct your family tree, and it has helped people find living family members.
Pros: Provides more thorough genealogical information than 23andMe, and it’s helpful for finding relatives, like cousin,s through the family tree online service.
Cons: It provides no health analysis, unlike 23andMe. Also, ancestry information is lacking for those of East Asian ancestry.
3. 23andMe DNA Test – Ancestry Personal Genetic Service
This is the more basic and less detailed version of the other 23andMe kit on this list. It’s specifically designed for discovering details about ancestry and relatives. However, some reviewers suggested that Promethease, a $5 service, can help users get some of the same analysis from the premium package out of this basic package.
Pros: Unlike Ancestry, 23andMe provides separate maternal and paternal charts.
Cons: Building a family tree is easier with Ancestry. Asian genealogy through 23andMe is also less comprehensive than for other ethnic origins.