The branches of your family tree bear much more than the years your grandparents were born. Knowing your family’s health history is an important factor in your health status. Some health conditions are more likely to be passed from generation to generation. Your family tree can shed light on your risks for these 5 conditions:
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.
Black people are twice as likely to die from heart disease.
If you have a family member that has hypertension, high cholesterol, or that died due to heart disease, you are more at risk for heart disease.
Bad habits such as smoking and unhealthy eating habits that were taught among family members further increase your risk of heart disease.
2. Type II Diabetes
When your body can no longer regulate your blood glucose level due to insulin resistance, type II diabetes develops.
Black people are almost 80% more likely to have diabetes than Caucasians. If your mother or father has diabetes, you are more likely to have diabetes.
However, your lifestyle choices play a major role in your risk factors. Even if you are genetically more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, making healthy food choices and staying active may prevent the disease from developing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), having a family member who was diagnosed with breast, ovarian, uterine, or colorectal cancer increases your risk for these cancers. Having two or more relatives, on your mother’s or father’s side, with any of these cancers increases your risk even more.
Environmental and lifestyle factors like smoking and exposure to radiation can increase your risk for cancer as well.
4. Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia is a genetic mutation of the body’s red blood cells. It is purely a hereditary disease.
According to the CDC, 1 in every 365 Blacks are diagnosed with sickle cell disease.
The sickle cell trait is carried in 1 out of every 13 Blacks. Many who carry the trait are not aware until they give birth to a baby that has sickle cell disease. Knowing your health history and your partner’s health history can help you in making important decisions about family planning.
Obesity is a risk factor for other conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Research has shown that there may be only a small hereditary component in obesity.However, obesity does tend to show up in families. If your parents were obese, it’s likely that they impacted your food and lifestyle choices. Acknowledgment of a family history of obesity can help you break the cycle of unhealthy life choices. (Source: BlackDoctor.org by Dr. Candace McMillon-Dantley)