AncestryDNA review: Does this DNA test actually work?

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AncestryDNA review: Does this DNA test actually work?


AncestryDNA is one of the most well-known and widely used DNA testing services that allow consumers to view their genetic breakdown. But how authentic are the results?

By Editorial Team | 28th April 2019
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DNA testing and DNA testing kits have become an intriguing topic in the minds of many. In the past, this was done to understand human body nature and hereditary relevance to diseases. The core value proposition of DNA testing organizations was to provide knowledge about genetics for the purpose of treatment. The times have changed recently and DNA testing is no more restricted to medical purposes only. Now it is used to find a connection with people all over the world starting from ancestral relationships decades ago.

There are organizations like 23andme and Family Tree DNA who provide such services where through the method of advanced biotechnology you can identify your long lost relatives or the part of the world where your ancestors came from. Yes, quite interesting aspects that science and technology continue to bring us every day.

How does AncestryDNA work?

Usually, the DNA ancestry services use specific algorithms and codes to come up with the results. At first, a sample is taken and the separate DNA nucleobases (A, T, C and G) are put into the database system. The database is, of course, kept secret and then through matching by different algorithms, the service providers find out the relationships. Understand that the nucleobases possess some patterns and evolutionary characteristics through which the ancestral connections are determined. Now the question is the authenticity of this procedure to actually identify ancestral connections.

Brands like ancestryDNA and 23andme perform a comprehensive research on 22 non-sex chromosomes to identify common traits and patterns to relate with one single origin. The X and Y sex chromosomes are basically used to understand maternal and paternal ancestral origin respectively. The process is complicated we understand but the good part is brands that provide you with the service performs the entire job for you. All you have to do is rely on them and pay a small amount of money to know your ancestral origin.

Are the results authentic?

In this section, we will be providing you with an argumentative analysis on whether you should trust the authenticity of the ancestral DNA testing.

  • Completion of the database

As discussed before, the results are based on the number of samples collected worldwide. Now the common sense tells you that you can never gather the data of the entire population of the world. However, the higher number of samples and data you have, the more accurate your result will become. For instance, the results of your ancestral origin from brands like 23andme or AncestryDNA are more accurate for European customers because they have sufficient data to perform the right analysis.

  • The probability

Here’s where things get more interesting. If you are looking for lineage connections for the past 7 generations, the probability of finding the exact DNA match is less than 1 percent. That’s because only 50 percent of one person’s hereditary characteristics in passed on to the children and the rest are newborn characters. Therefore, when this gene passes to the next generation, the original gene characters are diluted to less than 25%. You can understand what the percentage will become when it comes down to the 7th generation. But guess what? Technology has found a way to increase the chances of matches through the mix and match of algorithms. You can trace your distant relatives with a decent amount of accuracy now.

  • The confidence interval

This is a statistical tool that the brands use to tell you the accuracy of the results. For instance, the results will be that a person’s real origin is 1% Taiwanese with a confidence level of 60%. This means that there is a 40% chance that the results might be wrong.

To Summarize

Whether the results are right or wrong is for you to decide. The brands will provide you the numbers (probability, confidence level, basic results) and you have to make the choice to trust that or not. Of course, the results are never 100% authentic but the probability will keep on increasing with the passage of time with the database being updated at regular intervals. Even if the results are not correct, the process is still quite interesting and fascinating to try out.

Written by
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team is constantly watching for new and exciting services to report on. They aim to bring balanced, honest reviews to the site to give you the best comparisons and ensure you have the knowledge to choose the product right for you. Read more.
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  1. I have never used AncestryDNA. I only use 23andme. It’s the best service out there in my opinion.