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Are DNA Ancestry Test Kits Accurate?


The following is an excerpt from Nancy Monson, Health Writer | Published August 6, 2017 | health central.com |

It’s hard to turn on a TV today without seeing an ad hawking direct-to-consumer DNA ancestry tests, and I was as curious as anyone about what my results might be. But can you trust them to be accurate? To find out, I contacted three of the major providers today: Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and 23andme.

The first two gave me complimentary tests as a journalist but sell for $99 each; I spent $199 for the 23andme ancestry plus health test.

For Ancestry.com and 23andme, I sent in plastic vials of my saliva; for MyHeritage.com I sent in cotton swabs that I used to scrape the inside lining of my cheeks. Your saliva and your cheek cells contain DNA, which carries the genetic information the companies require for their analyses. I got the results of the tests in 6 to 8 weeks via regular mail, though the companies promise results faster if you go online.

It turns out that all three DNA ancestry test kits produced fairly uniform results: I found out I am largely Northern and Western European (Scandinavian, Finnish and Irish) and a quarter Ashkenazi Jewish. That all makes sense from what I know of my grandparents, who hailed from Norway and Finland on my father’s side and Germany and Ireland on my mother’s side.

A DNA primer

We each receive half of our DNA from our mothers (called mitochondrial DNA) and half from our fathers (called Y-chromosome DNA). Most of our DNA, 99.5 percent of it, is identical from person to person, but there are small differences, called variants, that make each person unique.

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