AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched

“This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  This is huge.” -Diane Southard, Your DNA Guide

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about some changes taking place over at AncestryDNA. You will recall that they are planning to slash your match list to allow only “invited guests” to your personal DNA party. (Read that post to be reminded why this is a good thing.)

Ancestry has officially announced the launch of this feature update and reports that on average users will see an 80% reduction in the number of matches shown. I had a chance to look at the new site before it launched and one of my favorite features is the question mark that appears next to your match. Clicking on the question mark on your match page will bring up a menu of references to help you better understand the inner workings of matching at Ancestry, including those confidence levels that are a part of every relationship prediction. In this table below you can see that ancestry has tried to give you some fairly solid guidelines by which to assess the quality of your matches. You will want to focus on those matches with a confidence score of “High” or above to have the best chance of genealogical success. confidence chart But an update to the matching feature is only the beginning of the new features at AncestryDNA. Today Ancestry announced “DNA Circles,” a tool that helps you identify others who share common ancestors with you.  The new “DNA Circles” feature has the potential to impact the way you do genetic genealogy at Ancestry.  Here’s why: Autosomal DNA (the kind that Ancestry is testing) has a spotty inheritance pattern. On average we only have half of the DNA of each of our parents, only 25% of our grandparents, only 12.5% of our great grandparents and so on.  This means that AncestryDNA and its competitors (Family Tree DNA and 23andMe) are only able to genetically identify 50% of your genetic 4th cousins. This means that there could be 50% MORE people in these databases that you are actually related to, people that should have been invited to your DNA party, but didn’t have a ticket. Now with DNA Circles, there is a metaphorical “after-party.” After parties are “hosted” by one of your relatives. Ancestry searches your pedigree and that of your matches back 7 generations looking for suitable hosts.  An ancestor qualifies as a host if they have two or more descendants who hold an invitation. At this after-party you can meet some of these long lost cousins that, while related to you, lost their ticket to your DNA party. After-party invitations are provided to those who meet three very important qualifications:

  1. They have their DNA attached to their PUBLIC family tree.
  2. AND that PUBLIC family tree has the name of the hosting ancestor on it.
  3. AND this person shares DNA with at least one other person who also meets the above two criteria.

Here’s an example.  Below is an image of the new AncestryDNA home page. You can see I am a part of two DNA Circles (some of you will be much more popular and invited to several after-parties. For me–just the two for now).  Let’s take a closer look at my DNA Circle hosted by my paternal 5th great grandfather Minus Griggs (who knew the guy liked parties?!). AncestryDNA HomePageNov2014   Clicking on the DNA circle brings up this page where there are three things I want to show you: AncestryDNA

  1. This is your relationship to the host.
  2. This is a list of the individuals who have passed the three criteria listed above and have been invited to this after-party.
  3. This is the innovative part.  You see that the first two matches (after me–I am listed first) have only “Tree Match” in this column. This means that these two people, both descendants of our host, Minus Griggs, didn’t ever appear on my DNA match list. We do not share enough DNA to be considered genetic relatives. However, the third member of the circle has the “DNA Match” designation, meaning that this match DOES appear on my match page. In fact, this is my ONLY DNA match in the circle (there are three others not shown here).  That means that this DNA circle has connected me to FIVE other cousins.  All because I share DNA and genealogy with the third member of this circle, and he shares DNA and genealogy with everyone else.

I can click on each circle member to see exactly how Ancestry THINKS we are related.  This is my first opportunity to DOUBLE CHECK this relationship that Ancestry has handed me, to be sure that both my match and I really did receive tickets to the same after party.

Here is what that page looks like for me and one of my matches.

This is really the first time a DNA testing company has so fully integrated genetics and genealogy.  We can now find cousins in the database who do not share our particular genetics, but who do share some of the genetics of our common ancestor.  In my opinion, this is huge. 

There is one catch, and it is going to be a big one for some of you.  In order to see your DNA Circles, you have to be an Ancestry.com subscriber.

Even though I am excited about these changes, I can’t help but hope for just one step more.  In order to identify these DNA Circles, Ancestry has identified pieces of DNA that can be fairly reliably assigned to a particular ancestor.  There are likely others in the Ancestry database who have these pieces of DNA, we can call them partial tickets to the after-party, but who are lacking the second requirement: a pedigree documenting a relationship to that ancestor.  I hope in the future the folks at Ancestry will honor those partial ticket holders, and allow them to the after-party, so we can sit around with our peanuts and pretzels and figure out how we are all related. Until then, I am going to enjoy the two after-parties hosted by my two generous ancestors.

your_dna_guideReady to walk through the process of using DNA for your genealogy? Let me be your guide! Check out my quick Genealogy DNA Quick Reference Guides Cheat Sheetsguides (left) Purchase each guide individually or pick up the bundle of all 4 for the best deal!

Visit my website to learn about expert consultations with me. You’ll get customized guidance on which tests to order and how to maximize your results for your genealogy research.

MyHeritage’s New Health+Ancestry DNA Kit

New on the DNA Front: The new MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test is now available and provides comprehensive health reports for conditions affected by genetics including heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Plus you’ll still get the genealogy tools for matching and discovering common ancestors. Read on to learn more about what health data is provided, how to order, the privacy policy, and more. Also keep in mind that DNA and health testing are a personal responsibility and decision, and the information provided below is for informational purposes only. 

MyHeritage Expands to Health

From the MyHeritage press release: Tel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major expansion of its DNA product line with the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test. The test provides a new dimension of genetic insight with comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in over 40 languages.

new myheritage dna health ancestry testnew myheritage dna health ancestry test

The launch of the Health + Ancestry product distinguishes MyHeritage as the only major service that bridges consumers’ past, present, and future: MyHeritage’s integrated suite of products enable users to discover their family history and ethnic origins, find new relatives, and receive valuable insights to help manage choices regarding their health that may impact their future well-being.
“Our Health + Ancestry test is the next step in the evolution of MyHeritage. After 16 years of changing lives for the better through family history research and genetic genealogy, we are excited to expand our mission and try to improve and save lives as well. Our vision is to integrate our successful family history technologies with the new health product in innovative ways that bridge heritage and heredity to deliver deeper insights for our users,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “We are proud to be part of a movement to democratize healthcare globally and make genetic testing accessible to millions of people, and allow them to discover what makes them unique.”

What Health Data is Included?

According to the company, The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where specific genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.

In total, MyHeritage’s Health + Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test: 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including a hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports.

Taking the Test

MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is a Laboratory Developed Test, processed in a CLIA certified and CAP accredited DNA lab in Texas. The at-home DNA test is an easy and painless cheek swab, and does not require spitting as some other tests do, which makes it more suitable and convenient for all populations, including older people.

Health reports only determine users’ genetic risk for the supported conditions. However, all users are required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire, to ensure that each user receives the reports appropriate for them. MyHeritage works with PWNHealth, an independent physician network and genetic counseling service, to provide end-to-end physician oversight of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test for all U.S. customers, which includes genetic counseling, if appropriate. PWNHealth’s physician oversight and genetic counseling fee is included in the total price.

 

Your Health Data is Private

Privacy is strictly enforced. All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data, and has committed to never do so without obtaining explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies.

Pricing & Ordering

MyHeritage Health KitThe MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit is available at the price of $199 + shipping. Users who have already purchased a MyHeritage DNA test for ethnicity and genealogy matching can upgrade to receive health reports for $120. To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. An annual Health subscription is available as an optional add-on to the new DNA kit, which grants users access to new health reports as they are released. As a special benefit for the launch, the Health subscription is currently offered for free for the first twelve months and users can cancel it anytime.

Disclaimer

The new health product is not intended to independently diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease or condition or tell users anything about their current state of health in the absence of medical and clinical information.

The product is also not intended for making medical decisions, including prescription or dosing of medications. Users may need to obtain further services from their physician, a genetic counselor, or other healthcare provider, in order to obtain diagnostic results regarding the conditions or diseases indicated within the MyHeritage DNA health reports.

The health reports provide genetic risk information based on assessment of specific genetic variants but do not report on users’ entire genetic profile. The health reports do not detect all genetic variants related to a given disease, and the absence of a variant tested does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may be related to the disease.

For most diseases, currently known genes are only responsible for a portion of the overall risk. Other factors such as environment and lifestyle may affect the risk of developing a given disease and, depending on the condition, may be more relevant predictors.

If a user’s data indicate that the user is not at elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, this should not be interpreted as meaning that the user is safe from developing the disease or condition. The opposite is also true; if a user’s data indicates that the user is at an elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, it does not mean that the user will definitively develop the disease or condition. Any findings within the health reports should be confirmed and supplemented by additional medical and clinical testing as recommended by the user’s healthcare provider.

MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is available globally except in a few countries that do not allow health-related consumer genetic testing. In the USA, it is available in all states except New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where separate laboratory certifications are required and are currently being pursued. Altogether, MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is now the genetic test for health available in the greatest number of languages and with the widest global reach.

MyHeritage Ltd.,
P.O.Box 50, 3 Ariel Sharon St.,
Or Yehuda, Israel

Disclosure: This article is a press release provided by MyHeritage. It is intended for informational purposes, and not intended as a promotion of DNA health tests. This article does contain affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). 

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