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.



Finding Your Purpose, One Moment at a Time

So many people think “okay I want more purpose and meaning in my life”.  They say, “I heard this was important and it was mentioned on this podcast. . .” So, what do they do? They go out and buy the Dalai Lama’s book or the biography of Gandhi and they make it all seem so overwhelming.

A smarter approach is to ask yourself, how can I bring more purpose and meaning to this next moment in my life. To this encounter, task or meeting. It really often starts these seemingly small moments we have in our day. The better question is, “What purpose do I serve in this moment?”

You know I have been into exercising for a long time and I practiced martial arts when I was younger but we didn’t eat well. At one point I finally decided that I wanted to begin to eat more healthfully. I started really small. I use to put three sugars in my coffee and the first thing I did was to cut it down to two. I can almost remember the day. I would go to Dunkin Donuts and almost order three sugars and stop myself and say “nope, I’ll take two sugars” in my coffee today, please. I kinda worked my way back down. I just kept going from there. It has been those seemingly small changes that brought me to building healthy habits.

It is the small changes and small habits that we evolve over time and then we begin to string together these series of behaviors that hopefully leads to this life that we want for ourselves that is consistent with our purpose or goals or whatever feels meaningful in our lives.


But it starts small and builds from there.