Ancestry.com today announced the launch of AncestryHealth, a new “entity and resource” to provide consumers with health insights to support healthier living.
The first offering is a free service, now in beta, that helps you compile a family health history by starting with your Ancestry member tree. This can help you and your doctor monitor potential health issues.
AncestryHealth also plans to work with institutions to integrate family health history data into electronic medical records.
The company is not yet offering a health-related DNA analysis, but it wants to, according to this Huffington Post article. It’ll need FDA approval first, at least for US consumers. (The FDA told competitor 23andMe in 2013 to stop selling its health-related DNA analysis, although 23andMe does provide health reports to Canadians.)
When you sign into AncestryHealth with your Ancestry.com login, you can opt to allow what you enter to be anonymously used for medical research. A statement reads “You can choose to join the Research Project, an initiative to find new health patterns and further medical research. Anonymous health information from you and other participants may help scientific researchers uncover health connections and this could lead to new cures, preventions, and treatments for other people in the future.”
Those who test with 23andMe also can opt to participate in research studies, a lucrative business for that company.
Ancestry DNA’s database has just reached 1 million DNA profiles, and the linked family trees make the data valuable to the medical research community.
In AncestryHealth, you import your member tree, enter your height, weight and whether you smoke, and select medical conditions that affect your family. Then you select members of your family who’ve had each type of condition (the options here go back only to grandparents, so I had to skip the conditions I’d already selected that affected earlier generations). The health library of conditions is still being added to; for example, I found hyperthyroidism but not hypothyroidism.
A tree view shows relatives back to your grandparents, and you can click to see the health conditions you’ve associated with each person. This tree and all the information in it remain private.
You also get a downloadable summary of conditions in your family, and a family health tree like the one shown above with color-coded conditions. (I just experimented for a few minutes, so your summary tree might be more colorful and informative.)
Cathi A. Petti, MD, will serve as chief health officer for AncestryHealth. Read Ancestry.com’s full AncestryHealth press release here.