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What is Gene Heritage?

Gene Heritage uses your DNA to determine if you inherited certain genes from your parents that influence whether or not you display particular characteristics.  Some of the genes/alleles that they check for are lactose intolerance, taste sensitivities, eye color, how well you might do as a sprint athlete, and whether or not you have bad body odor when you sweat.  If your children, parents, or grandparents have done DNA tests, you can also learn how different traits were passed down through the generations.

In this post, I’ll show you specific examples from my own Gene Heritage report, answer some basic questions, as well as:

  • Explain how to use Gene Heritage
  • Tell you what you can learn from your Gene Heritage Results
  • Show you examples from individual, parent/child, and grandchild reports

My family has had a lot of fun with our Gene Heritage results, and it’s something I can get everyone interested in.  Not everyone in my family is into genealogy, and I can see their eyes start to glaze over if I bring up DNA.  Everyone wants to know whether their earwax smells, or whether or not its in their genes to be able to sprint better, however, so it’s been a way to get everyone interacting with their DNA.

Note:  This article was completely updated on November 30, 2018 to include information about new features and pricing.

How much does Gene Heritage cost?

My favorite part about Gene Heritage that it is a pretty inexpensive tool to help us learn about what traits our DNA shows and how they were inherited.  It only costs $8 per family member.

What can a Gene Heritage report tell you?

As of today, Gene Heritage checks your DNA for fourteen traits that have extensive research linking them to a specific gene or gene region and whether or not you are likely to display a particular trait.

Some of the coolest (in my opinion) traits they check for:

  • Which eye color genes you inherited (dark or light)
  • If you might be a good sprinter
  • Whether you are lactose intolerant
  • Whether broccoli tastes bitter to you
  • Whether your face flushes if you drink alcohol
  • The color of your earwax and how bad your body odor is likely to smell

I don’t want to bore you with too many of my results, so I chose only a few to use as examples.

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Gene Heritage can tell you whether you might be a good sprinter

Take as an example the the ACTN3 gene, which is located on Chromosome 11.  This gene has been shown to be directly related to the makeup of your skeletal muscle – and how fast you are likely to be able to sprint.  Each person will typically inherit two alleles (alternative forms of a gene) of this gene, but they could be switched “on” or “off”.  If you inherit two alleles that are switched on, then you might be able, with some training and conditioning, to be a fast sprinter!

Below, you can see that I inherited two copies of the “on” allele for this gene.  I got one from each of my parents – cool!  I suppose that this means that I could be a good runner.  Hmmm… I did do a brief stint on the track team during elementary school.  This almost inspires me to get to the gym more often.

Example of a Gene Heritage report

Your Gene Heritage report can tell you whether you are likely to be lactose intolerant

I already knew that I am not lactose intolerant, since I am unlikely to be able to survive without cheese (I’m only slightly overstating this).  It was cool, however to see this in black and white, or in blue and red, rather, on a report based on my individual, unique DNA.

Can a DNA test tell you if you are lactose intolerant?

Is there a way to find out which traits I inherited from each of my parents?

Oh. My. Goodness.  This is actually my favorite part of the service.  I know that not everyone has access to their parents’ DNA, but for those of you who do, this is a super fun thing to do, and is definitely going to make for great conversation during family gatherings.

For example, if you are curious about which parent passed down the gene that makes you likely to have somewhat smellier armpit odor, look no further.  You can upgrade your Individual Report to a Parent/Child report, upload your parents’ DNA files, and find out which alleles were passed down to you by which parent.  In my case, I can thank both of my parents for passing down the “wet earwax” allele, which coincidentally is also linked to more armpit odor.

Gene Heritage can tell you possibly if you have smelly armpits

It looks like my dad had one of each allele – but he happened to pass down the wet-type earwax one to me, and of course, it matched up with the one that I got from my mother.

Gene Heritage can help you visualize how much DNA you inherited from your grandparents

I recently was able to obtain a Grandchild report, which analyzed my daughter’s DNA as it relates to my own and my grandparents.  In the Grandchild Report, it can trace how the traits that they check for are passed down from grandparents to child to grandchild.  It’s very easy to understand the results, and you can upload as many DNA files as you have access to.  Theoretically, if you had DNA files for all four grandparents, as well as both parents, you could see exactly from whom each allele was inherited to complete the grandchild’s predisposition (or lack thereof) for a particular trait.

My favorite example from my daughter’s Grandchild report is the part explaining that my daughter has two alleles of OR6B2, which might make her more sensitive to isobutyraldehyde.  Isobutyraldehyde is a chemical found in lots of food and drinks, including celery.  My daughter is highly sensitive to the smell of celery, and it has always driven me crazy because I love the smell and taste.

We can see very clearly in this Grandchild Report (in the image below) that I inherited a sensitive allele from my mother and a non-sensitive allele from my father, which means that I am also likely to be more sensitive to the chemical isobutyraldehyde.  I passed down the sensitive allele that I got from my mother to my daughter.  She got one from her dad, too, and thus, possibly, her sensitivity to the smell of celery (and maybe other foods containing this chemical).

Gene Heritage notes that being more sensitive to isobutyraldehyde doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guaranteed to dislike it.  Maybe it just smells stronger to us, and whether or not we like or dislike the smell is due to our own personal experiences with the foods that contain the chemical.

OR6B2 Gene in Grandchild Report on Gene Heritage

Does Gene Heritage collect DNA samples?

Gene Heritage does not actually collect DNA samples.  Instead, you upload your “raw” DNA file from your testing company (Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA, Living DNA, My Heritage DNA).  This means that in order to use Gene Heritage, you will need to have tested your DNA with one of the companies that I just listed.

If you haven’t already tested your DNA, be sure to check out my post titled, “The Beginner’s Guide to DNA Testing:  The Ultimate Strategy“.  Once you order your test, you’ll be well on your way to being able to use Gene Heritage.

How to use Gene Heritage

It’s a very easy service to use – and I got my results almost instantly.  From the moment I sat down to get my report, I think it took me less than five minutes to complete the entire process.

(You’ll need to have your raw DNA file to start this process – read about how to download your data from Ancestry DNA and Family Tree DNA)

If you want to try it out, just try the following steps:

  1.  Visit the Gene Heritage site, and click the report option that you would like (either the Individual Report or the Parent/Child report)
  2. The site will prompt you for your e-mail address – follow the e-mail instructions for how to do your upload and make your payment (the price for any report is currently $8)
  3. If you are doing an Individual Report, you should be able to view it as soon as your DNA is uploaded and analyzed.
  4. If you ordered the Parent/Child report, you need to upload the parent/child DNA files, give the family member a name, and specify whether you are the parent or the child, etc.  It’s pretty straightforward.

There are a few other neat things that you can do from within your account once you have finished uploading your DNA and your reports are done (which literally takes seconds – I swear, it was very fast):

  • Download all of the reports available.
  • Share the link from within your account with friends and family.  With the link provided, they will be able to see all of the reports on your account.

When new updates to the service come out, you can check back into your Gene Heritage account to see if your reports are still available.  If they are, your report will likely be updated with the new information, according to the company’s technical director, Castedo Ellerman.  If you are interested in upgrading your report, such as a Parent/Child upgrade, or the Grandchild report they are rolling out soon, you will need to purchase those separately.

Limitations of the Gene Heritage service

To me, the Gene Heritage report was a lot of fun, and it has already been the subject of a lot of joking around and conversations between myself and my siblings and parents.  It is fun and entertaining, but it should not be used to make any medical decisions.  It also cannot help you with genealogical research in any way (like proving or disproving paternity).

I noticed on my Gene Heritage results that there were a two traits that they couldn’t check for in my raw DNA file.  Due to the fact that every company uses a slightly different technology to test DNA, some of our raw DNA files don’t contain all of the information that Gene Heritage needs in order to tell us whether we have specific genes.  Fortunately for those of you who have done DNA tests with multiple companies, you can actually upload additional raw DNA files for the same person in order to get more complete results.

How does Gene Heritage protect my privacy?

One of the first questions that I had when I was considering uploading my own DNA to Gene Heritage was whether or not my data is safe with their company.  I was personally assured by the company’s co-founder, Joseph Silver, that the site never shares any customer information with third parties. They have added a new feature that allows any Gene Heritage user to delete their DNA from within their dashboard.

If you want to delete your Gene Heritage data, you just log in to your Gene Heritage account, and then click the little down arrow next to where it says “Show” after your name under the individual reports section.  You’ll see a button giving you the option to delete your data, as shown in the image below:

How to delete DNA from Gene Heritage website

Read their complete privacy statement


In the spirit of full disclosure, I always let you guys know what my relationship is with the companies that I write about.  I was supplied a complimentary Individual Report, Parent/Child Report and Grandchild Report by Gene Heritage so that I could examine my own results and let my readers know about my experience.   With that said, I won’t get any commissions or earn any money from Gene Heritage for writing this post.

I enjoy trying out new services, tools, and websites, and really enjoy telling my readers about my experience.  Gene Heritage is one of many places where you can upload your DNA, a neat benefit of having done an autosomal DNA test.

I hope that this post helped you understand the basics of Gene Heritage, including what kind of information they can tell you about your own DNA.  If you have any questions or comments, or want to share your own experience with what you learned from your reports, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

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