DNA testing is here and is ever increasing in popularity. Most people use 23andMe genetic testing, but there are several companies out there now that proved this direct to consumer testing. It can be a fun way to self experiment and learn things about yourself that just would not have been possible in the past. I encourage all of my patients to get a 23andMe test so we can go over it together. The information that comes from the tests can be helpful in designing a program that is even more specific to that person. Below is a write up from one of the people I help, Jenn:

I’m a generally healthy thirty-something long course triathlete that is always looking for ways to increase my energy levels, recover better from training and racing, and increase my gut health. However, I’ve had lingering issues with my thyroid and hormone levels as well as B-12 absorption even on a cyclical, well designed low carb, nutrient dense diet with applicable supplements.

Although most typical medical practitioners would just prescribe supplements or prescriptions to deal with these type of issues, it was important to me to find out why I have these problems. One way to really look at particular issues for me was to start with DNA testing. I used 23andme for the initial testing which gave me some basic information about ancestry and carrier status as well as some general wellness reports, but then I ran the results through Promethease to see my personal DNA report in more of a raw form, it provided a lot more insight into my personal genetic structure. Note: These results could lend themselves to being a high level hypochondriac! Keep in mind that you have to read the fine print when the results say you have increased risks. Promethease is a database of all related research that has found genetic markers and sometimes the tests are relevant – i.e. I’m not concerned if I have a predisposition to male pattern baldness or prostate cancer – that just isn’t relevant. However, I did learn things like:

  • I’m a slow metabolizer of drugs which could be why I haven’t had much of a result from adding a hormone cream to my daily routine;

  • I’m one of the people who more readily taste bitterness, which is why I’ve never liked the taste of stevia; actually 1 in 8 people have this trait.

  • I’m more likely to have Type 2 diabetes then average so being on a low-carb diet is really important to my overall long term health;

  • I have an increased risk of Atrial Fibrillation and cardio embolic stroke. This one is going to require some follow up. As a triathlete, I’m acutely aware that this is a cause of death that frequently is seen in the water related incidents among “healthy” triathletes that just didn’t know they had genetic heart issues. I’ve already made an appointment to get a baseline EKG, stress test and echo to make sure there aren’t any physical symptoms to go along with these results.

  • I have a number of markers for autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, or Multiple Sclerosis. While there isn’t anything specific that can be tested to know if I will activate any of these, I can make sure to be on an anti-inflammatory diet and work on stress reduction to minimize my risk.

  • I’m a “warrior” not a “worrier” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mequilibrium/stress-management_b_2671591.html

  • I’m at an increased risk for breast cancer. Since I just turned 35, I’ll be having a baseline mammogram screening and this testing just gave me the kick in the butt to go schedule that appointment.

 

What are some of the take-away’s from Jenn’s testing? We have a much better understanding on the importance of diet and stress management for her long term health. Now we have more insight on when and how to prescribe appropriate drug therapy when necessary. And and it gives us some areas that we need to follow up on preventative care that could be life saving in the long run. Importantly, it gives us both a peace of mind that we are doing everything possible for her health, which will hopefully lead to better wellness, longevity and sports performance; and all for less than a few hundred dollars. Of course, no one knows for sure what will result from this type of genetic testing, only time will tell.

To your health,

Doc Edwards