Understanding Who You Really Are
Ancestry DNA vs 23 and Me
With DNA testing kits like 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, you can discover your ethnic makeup, maternal and paternal lineages, migration paths, family tree information and even your likelihood of developing certain medical conditions. This article will review the pros and cons of 23andMe and Ancestry DNA testing services to help you determine which is right for you.
Ancestry DNA and Family Tree includes the standard DNA test which includes information on your ethnic background, plus you get access to Ancestry’s extensive U.S. and international family tree records.
Access to the Largest Database of Historical Records and Family Tree Data
- Ancestry has the biggest family history and genetic information database, with 26 million users worldwide.
- You get access to a huge collection of family tree data including immigration records, military records, birth, marriage and death certificates, voting and census information and more.
Provides Specific Information on Your Ethnic Origins and Migration Paths
- 84 global ethnicity regions and over 1,700 DNA communities give you ultra-precise information.
- Ancestry continually updates its algorithm and adds more data to its reference panels to provide the most accurate data.
- Understand more about your paternal and maternal lineages with an ethnicity estimate, a timeline of the history of each region your ancestors came from and learn more about the migration paths your family may have taken.
Find DNA Matches and Learn More About Your Extended Family
Ancestry can show you DNA matches from first cousins to sixth cousins.
You can also view common ancestors — you may be related to someone famous!
See Which Ancestry Traits You May Have Inherited
- The Ancestry DNA Traits package identifies 35 likely ancestry traits you may have inherited such as eye color, freckles and whether you like the taste of cilantro.
Limited Information Available for Some Regions and Ethnicities
- Ancestry can only give you the general region your ancestors were likely from if your family is from a very small or specific ethnic group.
- Since Ancestry relies on written historical records, you won’t be able to access family tree history or any other historical information if your ancestors came from a culture where this type of information was passed down through oral history.
Results are the Best Guess and can Change Over Time
- Since the technology and reference panels are being updated continuously, your results can change over time. For example, your results may have shown that you had 12% Greek ancestry in 2021 but now show that you are more likely to have 10% Greek ancestry.
Ancestry DNA Doesn’t Provide Any Biomedical Data
23andMe Health and Ancestry
23andMe’s Health and Ancestry package provides you with information about your ethnic background, plus detailed biomedical data such as your likelihood of developing certain medical conditions. The Ancestry and Traits package gives you information about ancestry traits that you are likely to have inherited such as certain facial features, eye color, taste preferences and more.
Gives You Detailed Information on Your Ethnic Makeup
- Determines your ancestry from across 2,000 regions and provides educational content so that you can learn more about the history of the specific area your ancestors originated from.
Find Relatives and Learn About Your Maternal and Paternal Lineages
- Learn where each side of your family originated from.
- The DNA relative finder allows you to find and connect with both close and distant relatives.
Biomedical Data Gives You a Better Understanding of Your Health
- Can determine your predisposition to developing certain health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, selected variants of BRCA1/BRCA2, Celiac Disease and many more health conditions.
- You can test whether you are a carrier of the genes for congenital diseases such as cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney disease, sickle-cell anemia and many more.
See Which Ancestry Traits You Are Likely to Have Inherited
- Can predict your likelihood of being lactose intolerant, whether you may have dimples or an aversion to cilantro and many more interesting characteristics.
Discover Whether You Carry any Neanderthal Genes
Doesn’t Compare to Ancestry’s Historical Records and Family Tree Information
- Fewer users at 12 million versus 26 million on Ancestry.
- Family trees must be done manually, whereas Ancestry provides detailed family tree information and extensive historical records.
The Downsides of Health Data
- While it can tell you an approximate likelihood of developing a health condition, it is not a diagnosis — having an increased risk for or carrying a risk variant doesn’t guarantee that you will or will not develop that condition. You should always consult with a doctor about any health concerns and continue with all routine health screenings.
- While 23andMe encourages users to consult with a genetic counselor before and after testing, this is not a service that they currently offer. Genetic counseling can cost hundreds of dollars per session but can help you to understand and process your test results and decide on the next steps.
Limited Information for Certain Geographic Regions and Ethnicities
- Like Ancestry, if you have Native American lineage 23andMe can tell you the geographic region your ancestors came from, but not the specific tribe.
- Some reports are only available with the more expensive 23andMe plan.
- Shipping costs extra.
- More expensive than Ancestry if you want both ancestry information and health testing.
While both options are great for determining your ethnic makeup, Ancestry’s DNA test is the better choice if you’re looking for family tree information and historical records. 23andMe’s DNA testing services are the better choice if you are looking for specific biomedical data. Keep in mind that learning about potential medical conditions, tragic family history, or unexpected DNA matches can bring up some difficult feelings. A genetic counselor can help you to better understand your results, plan for the next steps and healthily process the information.
DNA kits aren't just for humans, animals can benefit as well.