Many who question the price-doubling effect of adding health reports to their 23andme DNA test wonder if there are any 23andme health report alternatives. The answer is yes, sort of. At Promethease you can use your raw DNA from a variety of testing services (including 23andme and AncestryDNA) to receive health reports. These reports include all the information in 23andme’s report (you can see a full review of 23andme’s service here), and more—much more. Promethease’s report includes thousands of results. My report included 22,168 reports to be exact (this is also why there will not be a list of all reports given listed here).
What exactly is Promethease’s health report?
Unlike 23andme’s health report which neatly singles out certain traits and health risks for you, Promethease runs your raw DNA report against a large SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) database. This database includes research from a variety of sources on individual SNP’s in regards to, well, everything from physical traits to reactions to certain medications.
I’ll do my best to highlight the various sections of Promethease’s health report below.
Once your report is ready (average prep times range from around 2 to 15 minutes), you’ll be asked if you want to download your report. This is recommended, because your report won’t be stored online forever. The downloaded zip file offers an offline version of the report reviewed below.
The Promethease health report:
When your report loads you’re taken to a screen that will show your gender with a control bar to your right and an immediate list of gene variants tagged by research. There’s no navigation screen, it just starts you on a very long list of results. You are, however, given a tutorial, and some great tools to sift through this massive data pile.
At the top of the page you’ll see a search bar for simple quick searches. For example, if you wanted to see all information on your eye color, by tying “eyes,” your report would automatically update (you don’t need to hit enter) to all those results flagged “eyes.” As you can see below, the graph beside your search bar will also change. This graph shows the number of results flagged good (green), bad (red), or unspecified (grey).
You’ll also notice that the reports you receive vary in detail. In the top result for “eyes,” only a brief description is given and a “magnitude” (the level of interest other users have in this information). While the second result shows this as well as the frequency of its occurrence overall and in particular groups. Some results won’t show any information at all. They may just be variants we know exist, but haven’t figured out what do yet.
On the left you’re given a more detailed search filter. There are pulldowns which list all possible tags for all topics, medications, conditions, diseases, magnitude matches, reference populations, and more. This section works much like the search bar as far as auto-updating and doesn’t require explanation. At the top of this search box, however, there are some more neat features that are easy to overlook. “Help” and “reset” obviously lead to a help section and reset the search form to default.
“Table” is the first that strays over to the “neat” realm. This option takes your search results (everything when set on default) and shows it in an easier-to-browse, sortable table. Clicking any header, such as “repute” will change the order of your results allowing you to easily see all reports flagged “good,” for example. The downside is items in the table can’t be expanded for further detail, so if you find something you’d like to read more about, you have to search that on your main report.
“Graph” seems a little less useful. It takes all the visible reports in your search window (meaning even at default you’ll only see what you’ve loaded on the page), and builds this crazy moving graph of each result and the connected tags. What I found not-so-helpful about this is clicking a bubble simply zooms in on that area. It doesn’t open a window, nor do these bubbles really explain what each link is. For example, here you can see it shows “GS227” is associated with something to do with “taste,” but to see that report is showing that those with my variant are less prone to tasting bitter as they get older, I have to search, “GS227” on the main page.
Finally, “categories” shows the various drop-down filters in list form with bar graphs to show the number of good/bad/neutral reports. This is one section where clicking a link in the popup window will update your main page results. While it shows the same options as the pulldowns on your search control does, it is a non-collapsing list making it easier to keep track of what you have and have not viewed.
Is Promethease a good 23andme health reports alternative?
The advantage of using Promethease as an alternative to 23andme health reports is that it offers more data for far less ($10 to 12 vs $100). The downside is it is a lot of data, and that data can take time to dig through.
It’s also important to note with both Promethease and 23andme health reports, having a genetic predisposition for a certain trait, condition, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean it will present itself. For instance, both reports told me I had a 78 percent change of lactose intolerance, and I’m not lactose intolerant.
I will also say that the data in my 23andme reports does match my Promethease report. I did go through and check them all. This make sense because 23andme contributes to the database Promethease uses.
The difference between the two is it takes more work to confirm information using Promethease as a 23andme health reports alternative. At 23andme, I can click “eye color” and it will just tell me that overall most of my gene variants say my eyes are blue or green. At Promethease, I have to read all 67 results most of which indicate a higher change of blue or green eyes.
In short, Promethease is an excellent alternative to 23andme’s health reports as it includes everything 23andme covers for far less cash, but you do have to work for it.