7 Facts from our SelfDecode Review
- Location: California, United States
- Products: Genetic testing and DNA data upload
- Reports: Disease risks and traits; ancestry; regular updates; tools to explore DNA data and an AI to get customized recommendations
- Raw data access: Yes
- Privacy: Provides a detailed list of utilized security technologies
- Cost: $99 per year. DNA tests are $199-$279
- Alternatives: Nebula Genomics (free options available)
This review is written with the intent to be as unbiased as possible. However, it represents the opinion of an individual reviewer and is therefore subjective. Furthermore, at Nebula Genomics we seek to educate the public about the benefits of Whole Genome Sequencing. Information about our Whole Genome Sequencing DNA test is therefore incorporated into the review.
July 5, 2023
Table of contents
- 7 Facts from our SelfDecode Review
- Pros and Cons
- SelfDecode Products
- Review of SelfDecode Privacy
- SelfDecode in the News
- SelfDecode Reviews
- Nebula Genomics
Pros and Cons
- Tools for exploring your DNA
- Variety of reports based on your genetics with personalized recommendations
- Can import DNA data or buy a genetic test
- Blog with articles on scientific research
- Some customers feel there are too many marketing emails
SelfDecode (Self Decode) is a personalized DNA testing and digital health company founded in 2016 by biohacker Joe Cohen. Cohen also started SelfHacked, an online library of blogs on genetic and health research, and Lab Test Analyzer, a site that provides a list of optimal ranges and recommendations based on your genes.
Cohen describes SelfDecode as a service for people who want to understand how genes affect their health and ways to optimize it. To help them do this, SelfDecode aims to provide science-based reports explaining medical conditions associated with genetic variation in different genes. The company describes how your genes affect your health.
SelfDecode also offers tools to explore your genome and a blog connecting your DNA to genetic research.
There are options for customers who are new to genetic testing and those who already have raw genetic data from most DNA test analysis websites.
SelfDecode offers raw data analysis to individuals who already possess compatible DNA data for $99.
For those who don’t already have DNA data, the SelfDecode DNA kit + Health Insights plan is priced at $199 and Health Insights + Ancestry is $279. Customers can use these DNA kits to get their genes sequenced at a SelfDecode lab. All plans include a home DNA testing kit, 350+ DNA health reports and diet, nutrition, and fitness recommendations, and an advanced SNP and gene discovery tool, plus other features.
Customers pay an annual subscription of $99 for report access.
The SelfDecode reports analyze your DNA for health issues associated with specific conditions, explain the function of different genes, and offer personalized diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations based on your genotype.
The reports start with a summary of traits associated with different genes and gene-based health information, including risk of certain health conditions.
The report then moves on to provide details of the trait in question through a Summary. The example below shows a “quick takeaway” of a John Doe that has a high risk for inflammation.
After the summary, the report breaks down results and recommendations with detailed information as to which SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism, also referred to as “variant”) you have and the associated risk:
The report provides detailed recommendations on healthy habits, supplements, and diet and how they can help based on your specific gene variant.
The reports are meant to be for informational and educational purposes only. SelfDecode does not treat, diagnose or cure conditions. However, it does give advice on how to counterbalance the negative impacts of some genetic variants.
Review of SelfDecode Personalized Genetics
The company provides personalized health recommendations based on genetics. Anyone can access the blog and read the articles (currently not indexed and last updated in January 2021), but for SelfDecode customers, each article comes with a personalized score based on their DNA.
To make the lab test results easy to understand, they are classified as “good”, “neutral,” or “bad” depending on how your genotype influences the risk of disease or trait (e.g., brain fog). This provides personalized insight into how your health might be impacted by the findings discussed in the article. However, SelfDecode states that it does not provide medical advice, and the reports are for informational purposes only.
There are multiple blogs on topics like inflammation, respiratory infections, or blood sugar. You can filter posts by category or use the search function to look for articles on a specific gene or condition.
The introductions to the posts all follow a similar format: The name of the gene discussed in the title and an explanation of what the gene does.
For example, one of the posts focuses on blood pressure. The article explains the condition first and then discusses the basic biology and genetics of how blood pressure occurs in the body. Then, the genes that play a role in the condition are explained. In this case, the article focuses on the
CPLX3 (rs6495122) and CSK (rs1378942) genes. The post then breaks down the variants that can affect how these genes work.
Finally, the user is given their genotypes for the analyzed variants and their impact on disease risk.
Each post is well-cited, with links to published peer-reviewed studies. Most of the blog posts are a summary of information, not articles on cutting-edge research.
With the Health & Ancestry Insights kit, customers can learn more about their genetic origins. The reports include ancestry composition, mitochondrial ancestry analysis, and details on the history and culture of the DNA breakdown.
Review of other SelfDecode Tools
Your genetic information is organized into health categories and lists of genes. These “gene packs” help you easily see which gene variants might be impacting your health the most.
There are lists of so-called “bad genes” associated with unfavorable conditions. For instance, you might find you have a variant in the ADAM33 gene associated with asthma. There are also lists of what SelfDecode considers rare and important SNPs in your genome.
For instance, under the “Aging” topic and the “Eyesight” category, you may have certain alleles for the SNP rs6726395. Those alleles might put you at an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration. That is, you might be at risk of losing your eyesight as you get older.
SelfDecode also offers tools for searching your genome. These include the symptoms and conditions analyzer in which you can search for genetic variants by condition, like asthma, or by substance, like coffee or ibuprofen. Tools like the substance explorer then show you the genes and variants in your genome that are related to your searches.
Another tool that SelfDecode offers is an advanced AI that provides personalized health recommendations based on results.
Review of SelfDecode Privacy
SelfDecode promises never to sell your data or share customer data with third parties without explicit consent unless required by law. If the company receives a court order or search warrant for your genetic information, SelfDecode says it will notify you, if possible.
For users concerned about privacy, SelfDecode suggests using a pseudonym. Otherwise, the company collects as little identifying information as possible.
To further protect your health data, SelfDecode says only “vetted and trusted” employees have access to the site’s backend. Additionally, only one person has access to the DNA files.
The security measures used by the company to protect user privacy meet modern technological standards. In this way, it claims to be able to analyze up to 83 million genetic variants with minimal risk to users’ privacy.
SelfDecode in the News
SelfDecode didn’t make much headway in the mainstream news in its first four years. Joe Cohen, the founder, was mentioned in Scientific American and featured on the podcast Evergreen Profits. Notably, Cohen made headlines in 2017 when he offered a $10,000 reward for anyone who found him a girlfriend. Two years later, he appeared on Good Morning Britain with his girlfriend to discuss how SelfDecode helped her learn to treat her mood issues.
Fast-forward a little to a couple of years ago, and the company has cemented itself as a solid enterprise and health software. Cision reported that the company had raised $1MM in a crowdfunded investment round in October 2021 and $8MM in November.
Is SelfDecode worth it? SelfDecode features positive reviews on its website, but there aren’t many available on other review websites. There are mentions on Reddit.
As of 2023, SelfDecode has a 4.7 star rating on Trustpilot with over 650 reviews. Most reviewers found the platform easy to use, felt the reports were detailed and useful, and had good experience with customer service. A few customers felt that they received too many ads via email and that the auto-renewal email was unclear, causing them to be charged without realizing it.
Nebula Genomics distinguishes itself from SelfDecode and other DNA testing websites through our focus on privacy, our research library, and our DNA sequencing-based test.
At Nebula Genomics, we are privacy-focused. We are developing technologies to enable secure genetic testing and DNA data analysis. We also allow our users to share their DNA data with researchers without risking their privacy.
Nebula Research Library
Our understanding of human genetics is advancing every day. With the Nebula Research Library, you can find articles explaining the newest research and studies. This provides insights into the most current information about your genetics.
Free DNA reports
We offer users free expanded DNA reports. When you upload raw DNA data from 23andMe or AncestryDNA to Nebula Genomics, we use a process called imputation to fill in the gaps in your genetic data. The result is a report on hundreds of genetic traits.
Whole Genome Sequencing
For even more information about your genome, our 30x Whole-Genome Sequencing decodes your entire genome. That is 10,000 times more information than other testing companies like SelfDecode provide.
SelfDecode vs Nebula Genomics
|Focused on privacy||No||No||No||Yes (learn more)|
|Free DNA data upload||No||No||No||Yes. Imputation generates an expanded report|
|Updates based on new research||No||No||No||Yes, regular updates (learn more)|
|Tools to explore data||Yes||Limited||Limited||Yes (learn more)|
|Ancestry reporting||No||Yes||Yes||Deep ancestry reporting with full Y chromosome and mtDNA sequencing|
|Cost||$0, $149, $399||$99 or $199||$99 or $119||$0, $99, $299|
If you are interested in genetic testing that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals, there are a lot of products to choose from. You can learn more about your options on our website, including:
- Athletigen (free upload and basic report; additional tests and reports available at an additional cost)
- CircleDNA (health and wellness)
- DNAFit (in partnership with CircleDNA)
- Fitness Genes (data upload and DNA testing kits)
- Genomelink (fitness information)
- Genopalate (data upload and DNA testing kit)
- Helix DNA (DNA test plus additional cost for the apps)
- Living DNA (well-being kits)
- Noom (subscription based nutrition service)
- Nutrisystem (subscription based nutrition service)
- Orig3n (various DNA tests – no longer available)
- Sequencing.com (fitness app purchased separately)
- Vitagene (diet and health)
- Xcode Life (fitness and health report)
There are a lot of great supplement companies out there that may help you lose weight and get healthy (you can read about many of them on our blog!) But be careful! There are also dangerous experimental drugs out there like SR9009 and RAD 140 that are not approved for human consumption.
Did you like our SelfDecode review? You can find more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests!