At-home genetic testing is now affordable, accessible, and wildly popular. With its scientifically proven accuracy, easy access to physicians, and focus on health risks, Color Health’s genetic testing service stands out.

Color provides genetic sequencing and analysis with a focus on “meaningful health insights,” like hereditary health risks of cancer and heart disease.

Color’s website claims that their $249 clinical-grade DNA test has historically cost thousands of dollars. With this test, you’ll collect a saliva sample and then mail it to Color. Once a doctor reviews the sample, your DNA will be sequenced and analyzed.

Within a few weeks, you’ll receive a report with your results. This detailed report will inform you of your risks of hereditary cancer, hereditary heart disease, and if you have certain medication response genes.

Screening for genetic cancer risk is one of the main parts of Color’s service. According to research from 1993, 2001, 2005, and 2015 cited by Color, 10 to 15 percent of most cancers are due to inherited genetic mutations.

Color’s website breaks down three types of cancer:

  • Hereditary cancer: caused by a genetic mutation; typically seen across two or three family generations and diagnosed in patients at a much younger age than other types of cancer
  • Familial cancer: appears frequently enough in families that it’s likely not due to random chance; while no genetic mutation has been identified yet, there may be an undiscovered hereditary component
  • Sporadic cancer: caused by spontaneous genetic mutations and can’t be explained by a single factor

You’ll also learn about your risk of hereditary heart disease and be tested for your genetic response to certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications. Read on to learn about more benefits, such as Color’s free genetic counseling and ongoing support for any future health changes.

Color Extended Testing Kit

Price: $249 (+$9.95 shipping and handling, +$15 fee if you use Color Health’s doctor)

This kit is designed to assess your risk of hereditary cancer and hereditary heart health and how your genes affect your response to medication.

  1. Purchase the Extended Testing Kit from Color’s website.
    • Note that if your doctor ordered this test for you, they’ll give you this form. Enter the form’s requisition number when purchasing the kit.
    • Click here if you need Color to connect you to an independent doctor who can order the test at no extra cost.
  2. Color then mails you the kit. You’ll give a saliva sample in the provided container (i.e., you spit into a tube). To help you salivate, Color recommends thinking of lemons.
  3. Mail back the saliva sample.
  4. A doctor reviews the sample and will contact you with follow-up questions, if necessary. If you don’t already have a doctor’s order, this doctor can approve this test for you.
  5. In a few weeks, you’ll get your results in PDF form. This includes your genetic analysis — including your risk of certain cancers and heart disease, as well as how these results affect your family — information about genes that affect your medication response and recommended personal health screening guidelines.
  6. Once you have your results, you’ll gain access to phone consultations with a genetic counselor. Color’s genetic counselors will explain your report, answer questions, and discuss how your results could affect your family. There’s no extra cost for these calls.
  7. As new research and findings are published, you’ll receive updated results based on the saliva sample you sent in. If and when you or family members have health changes, you can update your Color profile to reflect this. This will trigger a rereview of your results by one of Color’s independent doctors.

Color Health claims their clinical tests are scientifically validated as more than 99 percent accurate. The company has received more than 10 patents for their technology.

In addition, the World Economic Forum — a Geneva-based “independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas” — has recognized Color Health as a leader in clinical testing.

The results you’re looking for

“Recreational” DNA tests like 23andMe cost less, but have less accurate results. If your motivation is finding family members — or simply the novelty of testing your DNA — you might prefer a recreational test. If you’re more interested in your and your family’s health risks, Color is probably right for you.

How this will affect your family

For better or worse, not everyone wants to know about their health risks. If some of your family members live by the “ignorance is bliss” mantra, they might not want to know these results. You are, of course, entitled to learn about your own DNA, but be mindful of how this information could affect your relatives.

Consider asking ahead of time if they want to hear results, or keep your test to yourself if you’re worried about their reaction.

You’ll need a doctor’s order

It’s less complicated than it sounds! You don’t actually need an order from your own doctor. You can submit a saliva sample, and Color will connect you with a doctor from an independent network of physicians. This doctor will reach out with questions if necessary and can submit the order for you.

You’ll also learn ‘fun stuff’

The Color Discovery service provides results about genes that don’t contribute to life threatening conditions but are certainly interesting. This includes your earwax type, if you have an alcohol flush response, lactose intolerance, and cilantro preference.

Note that these results are based on still-developing science, are not definitive, and shouldn’t inform medical decisions. Color also notes that the Color Discovery service is less accurate for certain ethnicities and genetic ancestries. The company doesn’t specify which ethnicities, though.

Where you live

Color Health’s genetic testing is available for customers all over the world. However, the Color Discovery service described above is currently only available to U.S. residents.

Color is an impressive DNA sequencing service. For $249, you’ll learn your heart disease and cancer risks, find out if you respond differently to certain medications, and learn some fun facts about your genes. The science is backed by clinical testing, a doctor reviews your results, and the price includes one-on-one genetic counseling.