October 27, 2009

Family history can hint at how the future will shape up

By Kelley Luckstein

I used to rebel against the idea that we all become our mothers. But lately I find it awfully hard to deny. When four generations satfamily-historygenes around my dinner table a few weeks back, I saw not only that am I the spitting image of both my mom and my grandmother, but also that this inheritance has also turned up everywhere from my 3-year-old's hazel eyes to my 6-month-old's dimples. We all have the same body type, sensitive skin and dark circles under our eyes -- even the kids! -- and left-handedness clearly runs in the family as well.


But other links were just as striking: None of the women at the dinner table sleeps well.


…Science has clearly shown that there's an underlying genetic susceptibility to many of the most common chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and mental illness. And yet very few conditions are caused by a single gene or genetic mutation…"There's a saying: 'There's your DNA, and then there's what you do about it.' It's not destiny; it's just a matter of probability." And it's more complicated than most folks realize, says certified genetic counselor Carrie Zabel, assistant director of the Eisenberg Genomics Education Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.


Washington Post by Carolyn Butler, 10/27/09

Tags: Education, family history of genes, genetic counseling, Genomics

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