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Getting More from Home DNA Testing

Home DNA test kits have been rapidly dropping in price. DNA tests using mail in saliva samples were nearly $200 a year ago and have already dropped down to $69 for Ancestry.com or $79 for 23andMe. Both of these services are providing between 600,000 – 700,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”). These SNPs when correlated with clinical research can confirm appearance traits and potentially provide useful information around food sensitivities, athleticism, medication response and disease susceptibility. Sadly, there are significant privacy concerns around the use of these services that are worth reading about before signing up.

Once the DNA test kit is mailed out, spit in, returned and sequenced there are plenty of options for digging into the data. Both 23andMe and Ancestry.com have user friendly interfaces for sharing insights and understand the data. Both sites also let you download a plain text file of your genotype call data. This file can be uploaded to other sites for additional interpretation and reporting.

Promethease is my favorite of the third party site for naval gazing. This service typically costs $5 and will have a report ready for you to review and interact with within 5 minutes. There is a tutorial for learning how to navigate their interface to see peer-reviewed scientific studies related to your DNA variations. Promethease is using data from SNPedia and ClinVar.

Should searching through scientific papers trying to understand what the data means not sound exciting there are other options. Athletigen is pricey at $80, but they do provide a beautifully formatted DNA Wellness Report. The report has several useful tidbits which are difficult to come across using other insight tools. Seeing how much of the population shares your genotype, recommendations and a confidence grade on the studies being referenced can be reassuring. 


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