23andMe, the leading personal genetics company, is celebrating National DNA Day by taking an in-depth look at what Americans know about their DNA and how genetics play a role in our everyday lives. The survey found that 91 percent of Americans know that their genetic information has important utility in managing their health.
Americans understand that genetic testing can give them valuable information about their health and ancestry.
82 percent understand that genetic testing can show their risk for getting a disease.
77 percent know that genetic testing can be used to show diseases they could pass along to their children.
67 percent know they can use genetic testing to get a better understanding of their ancestry.
While these figures are encouraging, 23andMe also found that many Americans are not familiar with basic facts about DNA and genetics taught in most high school science classes:
More than two in five (41 percent) Americans don't realize DNA is organized into chromosomes.
Less than one in four Americans (24 percent) know that everyone has 23 pairs of chromosomes.
And 49 percent of women incorrectly believe their sex chromosome is XY; while 24 percent of men incorrectly think their gender is represented by the XX pairing.
Additionally, only 10 percent of Americans accurately pinpointed that humans share more than 99 percent of DNA with every other human being. However, more than two-thirds of Americans already know their DNA can provide a better understanding of their ancestry and over half believe they can possibly connect with living relatives through the results of a genetic test.
"There are so many useful tools for measuring our health, from blood pressure checks to your bathroom scale," said Emily Drabant Conley, PhD, director of business development, 23andMe. "These tools help make measurements of our health more visible. With 23andMe, people have the opportunity to explore their own DNA - to more tangibly understand how their DNA may inform their health. As genetics become a more routine tool in managing health, it will be important for individuals to have a clear understanding of what genetics can tell them - and what it can't."
DNA Day is celebrated on April 25th and is dedicated to promoting genetics education and celebrating the latest advances in genomic research and the many ways genetics impacts our everyday lives. It commemorates the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick and colleagues published papers in Nature about the double-helix structure of DNA. 23andMe aims to help individuals understand their genetic information through DNA analysis and research and looks to bring greater attention to the need for education and broader understanding of DNA among the general public.
23andMe provides a variety of free educational resources available to anyone on its website. You can view the company's popular Genetics 101 video series and other educational materials at: https://www.23andme.com/gen101/.
The survey was commissioned by 23andMe and conducted in March of 2014 by independent research firm, Kelton. The survey includes 1,000 respondents over the age of 18 among a stratified random sample representative of the United States population. The survey results have a margin of error of + or - 3.1 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.