23andme’s health screening - is it a good idea?

My wife and I decided to support the coming totalitarian state, and have our DNA mapped by 23andme.

But, we did not spring for the “heath screening” option.

What say you Dopers? Do the Pros outweigh the Cons? Is knowing that I’m likely to contract some sort of incurable disease a good idea? Or, is ignorance bliss?

Do the insurance companies find out the results of that screening? Does choosing not to get it yourself prevent them from getting it?

At this time, I don’t think so.

Most of the conditions they check for are the sort of things that if you are at risk, you probably know, because you’d know if it runs in your family., and they are not common (most of them I’d never heard of). They do have a check for BRCA, but there are dozens of mutations, and they only check for a few, and they run in those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

I’d suggest that you read the list of what they check for, and see if they sound like anything that runs in your families.

On the other hand, they will likely add new test in the future, and you will be grandfathered in. That’s what happened to me - I did the test before they had approval for the health portion, and they gave it to me free once it became available.


For some people, knowing that we have a greater probability for XYZ than the general population simply means being careful to watch for it and/or avoid its known triggers. For others, it means freaking out any time they have something, a single thing, which is in the list of symptoms for XYZ. Which are you guys?

isn’t that part of it considered useless anyways? I remember they were in trouble for it with various agencies about it for a few years

We did the health part & I agree it depends on your personality. I am at increased risk for macular degeneration & I was glad to have that info, as it will keep me going in for checkups with the opthalmologist.

But if you are the type to worry about everything, then that might not be good for you. Additionally, they emphasize that just because you have a gene that increases your risk of developing XYZ disease, you won’t necessarily get it and people without that gene can still get the disease.

I am a bit of a hypochondriac. So, I don’t know if doing this is such a great idea.
I’m alway waiting for “the other shoe to drop.”

I got the 23andMe health screening done a long time ago, before the FDA shut it down.

I found it interesting that I was shown to have a decreased risk of getting a condition that I had already been diagnosed with. This reminded me that they are just dealing in probabilities and not to take it too seriously, especially the small stuff.

One of my relatives 23andme’s results said reduced risk of going bald. Started going bald in his early 20s.

Some of the gene tests might be accurate, but you can’t rely on a lot of them. And there’s not much you can do to sort the noise from the data.

My biological half sister did the 23andme test, it showed no risk of polycystic kidney disease (it’s genetic for 90% of people diagnosed).
She tested to see if she could donate to me… and found she, too, has PKD.

I’d take any results with a grain of salt.

Remember to consider your priors with any stated risk.

Also note that these inexpensive chip based genotyping have about 1% coverage, which may or may not hit the right location for multiple-allele traits and expression is not completely known.

23and me is selling a product, pharmacogenetic information can be an additional bit of information but they should only be a reason to consider getting a second opinion.

Many well known alleles will not ever be fully detected with genome-wide genotyping chips due to the required deletions and sequence similarities. Sure you can get lucky and get a result that will lead you to consult with a health provider but in general these services are for entertainment only.

We have to wait a while before pharmacogenetic testing that is more medically valid will approach these prices and really that will require a technology beyond genome-wide genotyping chips, which are what allowed this low cost service in the first place.

As an example, consider that full sequencing of yDNA costs $500+ and takes much longer to test, yet this is one out of “23”. The Illumina Global Screening Array Chip that 23andme uses for newer tests will always be a compromise and have limitations based on it’s intended purpose, which is to reduce costs as much as possible. Actual medical pharmacogenetic tests will be more targeted or use more specific chips and targeted searches for most conditions.