Reading Your Genetic Testing Kit & DNA Results

Recently my wife Laurice and I tried the 23&Me   health and ancestry genetic testing kits. We shared our initial experience here in this video, which included the both of us trying to decide if we should actually film our saliva collecting samples on camera.

The total wait time was about 3 and 1/2 weeks to get our results. Note: I have read a number of reviews on Amazon that claim it took much longer to get results, so please contact the company to find out more.

Overall, we were simply curious about what we might be able to find out about our DNA and if there was anything we could proactively do to prevent any of the predispositions to any diseases that we might have.


I also believe that most of these reports are for educational and research purposes only and that most published reports about DNA variations explain only a small part of the heritability of a trait, and they also don’t take into account how different variants might interact.

It’s also important to understand (and 23&Me does this well) that published reports typically ignore environmental, dietary, microbial, medical history and lifestyle factors, any or all of which may well affect my true risk for any trait or disease.

Part of the story

We ordered the Health and Ancestry report, which seems to be the most conclusive. The health and ancestry report is suppose to tell us more about our DNA, health, traits and ancestry.  This includes a report that explains our genetic health risks for Alzheimers and Celiac disease (a true hypersensitivity to gluten, not a fad diet).

According to 23&Me, their kits meet FDA requirements and they continue to add additional reports. I know they’ve recently added genetic health risks like gene mutations for breast and ovarian cancer, which could prove to be very helpful.

We’re You Born with a Beach Body?

Their wellness report unveils some interesting and possibly helpful things like our predisposition for our true/ideal weight (lower or higher than the general population) and obvious variants, (like eating less red meat and exercise) that may effect our current weight.   It’s interesting to understand what our actual weight is suppose to be vs how we tip the scale.

The carrier status report let us know if we are gene carriers for diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Hereditary Hearing Loss and Sickle Cell Anemia.  There are 40 reports in total which include rarer diseases like ARSACS which is a debilitating hereditary and progressive childhood neurological disorder. The report also includes results like whether you carry a mutation that lowers cholesterol and helps guard against heart disease.

Interesting but not what I would consider super useful is a report on our DNA traits, like our ability to taste bitterness (an actual chemical called PTC) and if we are likely to have a Unibrow. (uh, okay)

Adam and Laurice.png

My wife Laurice describes what she found to be most interesting about her report.

I have always been curious about my ethnicity. We knew my father’s parents were both from Syria and my maternal grandmother was from Ireland, but my maternal grandfather’s roots were vague: “some Irish, some French, and bits of this and that” was what I was told growing up. My composition came back “43.1% British & Irish”, and “43.8% Western Asian,” with the remaining percentage indeed tiny bits of this and that, including “1.0% French”!

To me, the most interesting part of my Wellness Report was that my “Muscle Composition” was “Common in Elite Power Athletes.” I have a new go-to answer for the frequently asked question of how I’m able to keep up with our five children!! 

The Traits Report was also illuminating, and most rang true. It didn’t get it all right—I’m not “likely to have lighter skin” and certainly not “less likely to have thick hair” (tell that to my brush!)—but I was still surprised by how accurate the majority of my results were. For example, my DNA showed I was “less likely to be able to match a musical pitch,” which anyone who has heard me sing can attest to. It was strange to me that my DNA also correctly revealed I was “likely to wake up around 7:25 AM”. 

Uncovering Your Family Tree

I have read that results of ancestry tests may differ from company to company. While Laurice and I are not creating an ancestry tree, I have read that Ancestry DNA does an excellent job. I have also heard that 23&Me has a much better Ethnic Origin Analysis and we did find out interesting things like how many cousins we have around the world and where they live.

What do I do with all this information?

If you are considering an at home DNA testing kit I strongly encourage you to discuss your report with your doctor, genetic counselor or other health-care provider prior to making any medical or reproductive decisions.


Also, you can upload your results to sites like which is a tool to organize all of your health data for your physicians and specialists.

When I spoke to some of my friends about the test, I wasn’t surprised to learn that they are concerned that 23&Me and other DNA kits selling our private information to Google and other companies.  Drug companies like GSK are working with 23&Me to mine the data found in these tests. They don’t look at an individual’s name and personal information, just the DNA results. According to my research, 23andMe definitely is selling your data to third party companies, research institutions and nonprofits. But it is not selling your genetic data to those entities in order for them to sell you things. It is selling de-identified, aggregate data for research, if you give them consent.

If you are concerned about your privacy and what is being done with your test results, The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article about this on Sept 17th in their Innovations in Healthcare issue. Here is the link for you to read.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss DNA Kits, I’d love to hear from you, just comment below.

Yours in Good Health,

Dr. Adam Perlman

Becoming an Expert on You

I heard it said the other day that discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life. It’s very true. Struggle is a part of life and things that are truly worthwhile to us involve struggle. Whether it is our own family, our own health or it is our work and our career. But how do we address that struggle? How do we lean into it? In a way that we create the life that we want for ourselves? We tend to think in a much too myopic way. We tend to think about our need to get in better shape or I need to eat better or I need to manage stress better but we don’t take a comprehensive enough approach.  At the end of the day, we often rely too much on others.  We think others are going to give us what we need. We are going to go to that gym or if we just take that class or if we meet with that nutritionist, etc.

The reality is at the end of the day, you need to take control and you need to become the expert on you. Yes, it is great to seek guidance through podcasts and the books that you read, but that needs to be filtered through the one expert who knows you better than anyone else. You.

So how do we do that? How do we take a more systematic approach? One way to do that is to use some of the tools out there that have been developed to help us think more comprehensively about our lives.  The tool that I like to use is the Wheel of Health.  I am most familiar with the Duke Wheel of Health for obvious reasons, but there are others out there.

It is a way of looking at the different components of our life so that we can make different choices. Healthier choices for better outcomes and a more enhanced way of living.


If certain parts of the wheel are ignored, for example if you are not eating well, then the wheel won’t roll properly.



Sustaining Healthy Habits and Weight Loss

Dr. Adam Perlman      So many of my patients and friends and family have struggled with being overweight and have tried various fad diets and approaches to losing weight. I get asked about different diets and whether they work or not. I know you shared with me that when you were younger you were overweight and how you were able to lose that weight and keep it off. What was the secret? What was the journey like for you?

Brian Durbin MEd, CSCS of Synchronicity  I was young, I was 19 and I’ll never forget getting on the scale and I got on there and it’s 276 pounds. So I was 6 foot 3 inches and I had been playing football and I remember thinking “Whoa, this has gone too far. . .” I wasn’t playing sports any more and I thought, I have to reel this in. So I started reading data about what happens if you don’t lose the weight and it scared me.  So, it was that point that I started putting in small, little changes that involved exercise and nutrition, trying different things, learning new information, all along the way, it was just experimentation and learning. What works, what doesn’t work.

Adam So many people have this scenario where, you used the words “it scared me!” I often wonder how we create that sort of epiphany for ourselves, that inflection point in our lives, where we decide to do something different.

Brian I get bored incredibly easily. I am not going to be the guy who has the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s not going to be my thing, but if I find some article about some crazy fruit that comes from Africa that has this health benefit, I will definitely add that into my diet for a few weeks. So I try to keep things fresh and that has been a really big help to me.

Adam It reminds me of the Duke Wheel of Health. What I like about the Wheel of Health is that it looks at all these different areas of health and well-being, not just nutrition or exercise, but the concept of rest, professional development, spirituality, which could be interpreted as purpose and meaning in your life, along with connection and relationships. Often we can be a little too tunnel vision with our view of what a healthy lifestyle is or what well-being truly feels like and the Wheel helps me think more broadly about various aspects in my life, some of which maybe healthier than others. The Wheel helps me focus on different areas.

Brian As an example, how are exercise and relationships related? On the surface it might not seem like they are, but when you go “wow, aerobic exercise actually helps with my anxiety levels, lessening my chances of depression, my self-esteem and then you go, how does that actually play out with the way I communicate with people? Or how I make time for things and how I prioritize my life.  Everything is interrelated.

Adam I’ve heard you talk to about just being grateful for things like my heart that continues to beat and grateful for the breath that I can take. This has helped me, as someone who has struggled with trying to be perfect vs excellent which has led to unneeded suffering at times. I also think of someone, as we often do, scan the environment for threats, which at one point worked well for us. Now a days the threats are a text message we didn’t like or an email that had the wrong tone and letting ourselves get trigged by that.  That is something personally that I have worked on, not only for myself but as an example I want to set for my kids.  We have five children as you know and how do we teach gratitude to them? I think it starts by stopping and feeling gratitude ourselves, on a daily basis, right?

Brian  Just feel your heart beat, right, feel your heart beat and feel the appreciation for that. None of us asked to be here.  I mean, I don’t remember asking, but I’m here.  Can you feel appreciation just for that? Just for the heart beat and the chance to be here. Whether it is hard times or good times, can you feel appreciation for that?  Blending that with Rumi, especially his Guesthouse poem, about feeling these things, bad, good, they flow through us, can we let them flow through us without labeling them as good or bad?  That is how we can experience gratitude just for the gift of life.

Adam  The mind body connection is really interesting. I have seen that many times with my patience. It doesn’t mean what they are experiencing isn’t real, somehow other aspects of the way they are thinking or feeling is influencing their physiology.

Brian  I studied biomechanics in school, which is really just physics of the body.  It’s incredible, because you can watch somebody change their body when they start talking about something uncomfortable. You can start to see neck muscles start to contract. You can see recoil, tightness in the arms. The things we maybe are not aware of, right? Depending on what’s going on in our minds is manifesting in our bodies. It’s quite incredible.

Adam  Yeah, it is a struggle.  So many people get hung up on perfection. They think “I should have a purpose, I heard this on a podcast and now I’m going to buy the Dalai Lama’s book.” It really starts with small changes. I use to put three sugars in my coffee. I think the first thing I did, is cut it down to two.