Note: This piece on genetic analysis is the third in our series of posts about DNA tests for health and longevity. To better understand the basics of DNA and the different types of DNA tests on the market please go back and read our first piece on The Benefits of Genetic Testing for Longevity, and for an in-depth comparison of DNA testing companies please read the second piece on the Best DNA Tests for Health and Longevity.
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Imagine, for a moment, that time travel is real.
Not for people, but just for inanimate objects.
Now imagine an idealistic young scientist—a spanner brimming with hopeful enthusiasm about human life extension, aware of the power of knowledge and science, and determined to better the lives of his forebears—sends a modern-day medical textbook back in time.
Full of information about disease prevention, sanitation, surgery, and all the other hard-learned medical knowledge of millennia, he’s confident the wisdom in its pages can help to immeasurably improve the standard of living of our ancient ancestors.
There’s only one problem: he’s sent it back to the time of the cavemen, and no one can read.
It does briefly improve the lives of some ancient humans though, when it is used as remarkably efficient kindling for the tribe’s cook fire.
All the greatest medical information in the world won’t help you if you can’t read it.
And unfortunately, when it comes to genetic analysis we’re still at the neanderthal level of reading comprehension.
As we discussed in an earlier piece on DNA tests:
“The sort-of-dirty secret behind the analysis of genetic information is that, for a lot of things DNA-related, we just don’t have enough research to make firm conclusions…Our ability to predict health based on genetic data is still very much in its infancy. Without that context, it’s too easy to make ill-informed decisions based on what are, essentially, educated guesses.”
Now, if you’ve already done some type of DNA test, whether a genotyping test from the likes of 23andMe and AncestryDNA or a more comprehensive whole genome sequencing from companies like Nebula Genomics or Sequencing.com, there’s still a lot to learn from the As, Ts, Cs, and Gs of your genetic code.
Because even just educated guesses can still be helpful, and beyond the analyses offered by the DNA testing companies themselves, there are a plethora of third-party genetic analysis companies combing through the relevant research to provide you even more context and insight.
We’ve taken the time to sift through these genetic analysis companies and pick out the best health-focused DNA upload and analysis services.
But before getting into the third-party genetic analysis websites themselves, let’s take a quick minute to cover just how to understand your genetic results and how much—or little—to rely on them.
How to interpret your genetic results
No current genetic analysis is going to be able to tell you exactly what supplements to take, in which dosage, or what precise diet and exercise regimen will maximize your longevity.
At least, not yet.
But that doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
As we mentioned in the first article in this series on the benefits of genetic testing for longevity, a good genetic analysis can help with:
- Disease prevention, by telling you what diseases you may be most at-risk for as you get older.
- Avoiding possibly harmful longevity interventions (like aspirin if you have the WDR46 gene variant).
- Identifying existing health issues that may be genetically-related, like vitamin deficiencies.
That said, results from all these genetic analysis websites will still only point you in a general right direction. They won’t give you an exact prescription for what to do and, in fact, may be better used as guides for understanding what not to do and what to avoid (like aspirin in the example above).
Above all you should understand that even if you know exactly which gene variants you have, that still only gives you certain probabilities for, e.g., risk of specific diseases.
Lots of other factors besides genetics—like environment, diet, lifestyle, and other epigenetic influences—all play prominent roles in how (and sometimes if) your genes are expressed.
This is, luckily, good news!
Because it means, for example, you’re not fated to get hereditary breast cancer or prostate cancer just because you have a BRCA1/BRCA2 gene variant. You can make changes to prevent that disease, and a good genetic analysis can help you understand why those changes may be necessary.
One final point is that to evaluate the quality of each of the genetic analysis services we cover below, several of the same considerations apply here as we brought up when discussing the analysis provided by DNA testing companies themselves.
Specifically, make sure you take into account:
- The tying of specific research studies to the recommendations the DNA analysis website gives. Do they make it easy for you to find the actual paper they’re using as a basis for telling you to stop eating dairy, for instance?
- The size and update frequency of the database of studies the company uses to form its analysis. Are they relying on the newest studies in the field for their conclusions and recommendations, or old research that may have been superseded?
- The amount and quality of professional genetic counseling you can access.
And as always, since you’re giving these companies access to your unique genetic data, be very mindful of their privacy policies and digital security practices.
Now, on to the genetic analysis companies!
The best genetic analysis websites
The below genetic analysis websites have been selected based on the following criteria:
- No additional genetic testing required: Accepts uploads of raw genetic data files from other DNA testing companies in at least VCF, TXT, and CSV formats.
- Useful for health data, not just ancestry or ethnicity data: Specifically, they analyze at least one genetic variant known to cause inherited disease (i.e. more than just diet and exercise gene variants).
- Easily purchased: Can be ordered by consumers without a doctor’s order or prescription and currently available in the US.
- Visible pricing: Pricing is transparent and provided online.
- Suggestions backed by recent research: The research database they use for findings has been added to with new scientific studies within at least the last six months.
The DNA upload services below have been ordered alphabetically by company name.
Since Dr. Patrick’s focus is longevity and life extension specifically, spanners will likely get a lot out of her company’s DNA analyses. The comprehensive report includes analyses of telomeres, methylation, ApoE, and general longevity genes, among others.
Dr. Patrick’s transparent approach neatly fits in with the caution we advocate above in terms of understanding and relying on genetic analyses for lifestyle changes. As you can see in their sample DNA report, FoundMyFitness not only clearly explains what certain gene variants might mean for your health, but they also include direct links to the papers and scientific studies they’re relying on to make those claims.
Additionally, all the language in the report is couched in terms of probabilities, possibilities, and likelihoods, without any definitive pronouncements. That’s evidence that Dr. Patrick and her service are not trying to sell you on affiliate products or trendy-for-now “wellness” services.
Of course, these reports are necessarily limited by using data from genotyping tests which usually only account for less than 0.1% of your whole genome (compared to ~100% with whole-genome sequencing).
- Cost: $25 for one-time comprehensive report, $15 monthly for updated reports plus other member benefits
- Privacy and data security: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/privacy_policy
- DNA data types accepted for upload: TXT or CSV reports from 23andMe or AncestryDNA
This free genetic analysis website allows you to upload DNA data in almost any format—from genotyping tests like 23andMe to whole genome sequencing files like those from Nebula Genomics—and get detailed, advanced reporting on a number of different gene variants (using the ClinVar database).
Run as a nonprofit service (they do accept donations), Genetic Genie is wholly focused on the relationship between genes and health, and doesn’t offer analysis of ancestry or ethnicity.
Their Genvue Discovery tool takes your uploaded data and gives a comprehensive report on gene variants and their relation to specific health risks. Like FoundMyFitness, the report explains the relevance of each mutation and also cites the research and scientific studies that were used for each conclusion. That said, the sheer number of results provided make this tool best for intermediate or advanced spanners.
In addition to the full report, Genetic Genie also offers a free methylation report (which provides information that spanners will be familiar with because DNA methylation is used in epigenetic clocks like Horvath’s to predict biological age) and a free detox panel using your uploaded DNA data.
Genetic data uploads are anonymous, and according to their website:
“Your data is not stored on the server for more than 24 hours and is not shared with anyone. In most cases, we can’t even see your data as uploaded genetic data is usually deleted immediately after processing. No data (including generated PDFs and other files) are stored on the server for more than 24 hours.”
- Cost: Free (donations accepted)
- Privacy and data security: https://geneticgenie.org/privacy-policy/
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA, Living DNA, HomeDNA, Genes for Good, WeGene (China), 23Mofang (China), and whole genome sequence or whole exome sequence VCF files, and low-pass sequencing gVCF files
A similar tool to Genetic Genie mentioned above, Promethease takes your DNA data upload and provides a comprehensive report on your genetic variants that you can navigate using their online tool.
And just like Genetic Genie bases their reports on the ClinVar database, Promethease uses SNPedia as the data source for the information they give users.
Based on sample reports, Promethease provides information on a whole host of genetic variants, from those associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, to eye color. Links to SNPedia provide scientific study references, and results are tagged by topic to allow for easier searching and filtering. The tool is still likely best suited to intermediate or advanced spanners, however, given the sheer volume of information provided.
Data uploads are anonymous, and payment can be made by credit card or in Bitcoin for further anonymity. While Promethease deletes reports 45 days after creation (unless you create an account and opt-in to permanent data storage), they were recently acquired by MyHeritage, which “may transfer your DNA Data File(s) to the MyHeritage platform from time to time,” though they also note: “All users, regardless of where they reside or the date on which they joined Promethease, are able to delete their DNA Data File(s) and accounts permanently from Promethease and/or MyHeritage, at any time.”
- Cost: $12 per report, plus $4 dollars for each sub-report
- Privacy and data security: https://promethease.com/privacy and https://www.myheritage.com/privacy-policy
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, Genos, DNA.land, Genes for Good, MyHeritage, LivingDNA, GenomeStudio, (g)VCF files from exome and WGS, and “many other formats” (“Don’t ask, just try [to upload the file]”)
4. Xcode Life
A DNA analysis service located in India, Xcode Life offers 12 different genetic reports based on data you can upload from consumer genotyping tests and whole genome tests.
Reports include disease risk, carrier status, and DNA methylation and offer detailed recommendations for lifestyle and diet changes based on the results. Recommendations include things like avoiding diet sodas and losing 5-7% of body weight for people with genetics that make them prone to diabetes, as well things like increasing vitamin C intake if your gene variants show inefficient metabolism of that nutrient.
Unfortunately, the reports themselves don’t cite which specific research papers are being used to form Xcode’s claims and recommendations, so users must instead comb through their blog to find the relevant post with links to referenced studies.
- Cost: $20-$99 based on number of tests and traits selected
- Privacy and data security: https://www.xcode.life/privacy-policy/
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, Living DNA, MyHeritage DNA, Helix, Nebula Genomics, SelfDecode, WeGene, Gene by Gene and dozens more. Full list here.
DNA testing companies that also offer third-party DNA analysis
Additionally, three of the companies profiled in our previous post on the best DNA tests offer upload and analysis of raw genetic data from other companies. Rather than do full profiles of them again, I’ll refer you to that post and instead do a basic overview of the third-party analysis services offered by each below.
Nebula, while offering their own whole genome sequencing test, also offers free analyses of raw genotyping data from either 23andMe or AncestryDNA tests. By using predictive algorithms to “fill in the blanks” they can provide and analyse 50 times more genetic data than 23andMe or AncestryDNA tests give, without making you take another saliva test.
- Cost: Free
- Privacy and data security: https://nebulagenomics.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360036114572
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, and AncestryDNA
SelfDecode, in addition to their genotyping test, offers 26 different genetic reports based on genetic data from their own test or from third-party DNA data you upload.
- Cost: $97 per year or $297 lifetime access
- Privacy and data security: https://selfdecode.com/page/privacy/
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Courtagen, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Atlas, MapMyGenome, Diagnomics, DNALand, Illumina, LivingDNA, iGene, and whole-genome sequencing files from Dante Labs
Sequencing.com offers 80+ DNA reporting “apps” in their marketplace that provide DNA analyses on data from their own whole-genome tests or third-party genetic data. Many of the apps in their marketplace are, themselves, developed by third parties (including some from SelfDecode, mentioned above).
- Cost: $0-$149 per test, packages at $399
- Privacy and data security: https://sequencing.com/privacy-policy
- DNA data types accepted for upload: Supports raw data file uploads from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, Dante Labs, Nebula Genomics, and “almost all other test providers”
The below genetic analysis tools and resources didn’t make the full list for a variety of reasons (require manual searching, don’t allow raw data upload, or not as frequently updated etc.), but I still thought them worthwhile to share here.
- Human Aging Genomic Resources: This free genetic analysis tool is a lot more do-it-yourself than most of the others listed above, but I wanted to include it in the honorable mentions because it allows you to check known human longevity genes and variants against your own genetic data (though you basically need to do it one at a time…).
- Enlis Genomics: A similar service to Genetic Genie, but outputs a PDF gene report instead of providing a software tool for searching the report. To access the full software costs $39.95-$79.95.
- Impute.me: A tool like Genetic Genie, but offers limited modules like rare diseases and drug response.
- Codegen.eu: Similar to Genetic Genie and uses third-party data sources like SNPedia.com and dbSNP.
- Gene Cards: A free, searchable database of human genes with information for each one including drug interactions, variants, and related diseases.
- GET-Evidence: A free research tool for better understanding and interpreting whole genome information.
- Open Humans: A “citizen science” hub encouraging self research and providing tools and projects for analyzing personal genetic data.
Other genetic analysis websites for longevity?
Any great third-party genetic analysis websites we missed? Have you had any experiences with the ones above you’d like to share? Add ’em in the comments!
I’m the co-founder of Longevity Advice and have been passionate about radical life extension ever since I was a teenager. Formerly I was a content marketing director in the B2B software space. I’m also a sci-fi novelist, wargame rules writer, and enthusiast for cooking things in bacon fat. My sister once called me “King of the Nerds” and it’s a title I’ve been trying to live up to ever since.