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How your DNA becomes a report.

Human DNA is about 99.5% identical from person to person. However, there are small differences that make each person unique. These differences are called variants.

Your DNA was passed down from your parents—and their parents and so on. Variants can be linked to certain health conditions, traits and ancestry groups.

Your saliva contains DNA from cells in your mouth. We send you a saliva collection kit and instructions for providing your sample.

As part of our methodology, our CLIA-certified lab extracts DNA from cells in your saliva sample. Then the lab processes the DNA on a genotyping chip that reads hundreds of thousands of variants in your genome.

Your genetic data is analysed, and we generate your personalised reports based on well-established scientific and medical research.

Variables include environment like pollution, sun exposure; genetic like DNA, ethnicity; lifestyle like smoking, exercise

Why genetics is only part of the story.

When it comes to your health and traits, DNA is only part of the story. Your genes can raise your chances for many diseases, but they do not typically work alone. Health and longevity are influenced by other variables, including non-genetic factors, such as your environment and lifestyle. Let’s take type 2 diabetes (T2D) for example, the most common — and to an extent preventable — form of diabetes.

Data from a few large studies estimate between 20-80 percent of the risk for developing the disease may be explained by genetics. That being said, your age, diet, weight, ethnicity, and activity levels all play a role.

To break it down a little further, your weight — or more specifically your Body Mass Index (BMI) — contributes to your chances of developing T2D, but your weight is also influenced by a complex mix of genetics, lifestyle, and your environment. An unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to higher BMI, but obesity also runs in families, and families tend to share similar diet and lifestyle choices along with genetics.

All in all, it’s important to recognize that your genetic predisposition, your DNA, is not your destiny, but knowing you may have a higher genetic likelihood for a disease such as T2D can help motivate you to make healthier choices.

Our process at work.

To ensure quality, your DNA analysis is performed in US laboratories that are certified by CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP).

More on: our lab.

A CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab must meet certain quality standards, including qualifications for individuals who perform the test and other standards that ensure the accuracy and reliability of results.

Sequencing is a method that determines the exact DNA letters and their order in a stretch of DNA. Genotyping looks at DNA letters of interest at specific locations. Genotyping is the technology that 23andMe uses to analyze your DNA.

Our genotyping looks at hundreds of thousands of specific locations on your DNA. These locations are known to vary between individuals, and some are associated with certain conditions, traits, or ancestry.

We use leading technology to genotype your DNA—a custom version of the lllumina Global Screening Array.

Meet some of our researchers.

Here are some of the people behind the science at 23andMe.

Portrait of researcher David Hinds

"The high quality genetic research we do at 23andMe is possible because of our customers who share their data and want to make a difference."

David H., PhD
Principal Scientist

Portrait of researcher Joanna Mountain

"I am passionate about genetics because I am fascinated by how humans are different from one another, and what DNA tells us about those differences."

Joanna M., PhD
Senior Director of Research

Portrait of researcher Joyce Tung

"Be curious. Ask questions. The more we understand about our fascinatingly complex selves, the better we can take care of each other and the beautiful world we live in."

Joyce T., PhD
VP of Research

Hi. Still have questions about science?

Here are just a few of the things people frequently ask about 23andMe.
If you don't see your question here, get in touch with us.

A variant is a difference in the DNA sequence between two individuals. Variants can cause specific diseases, contribute to diseases or traits (along with the environment), or have no effect. Variants can be passed down from parent to child.

The analysis we perform is called genotyping. Genotyping looks at specific locations in your DNA and identifies variations. These variations make you unique.

In choosing these specific locations, we focus on the variations that are known to be associated with important health conditions, ancestry and traits. Genotyping is a great way to start understanding how your genetics can impact your life.

23andMe refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes in your DNA.