What's In My DNA???

You know, waaaay back before I was long thought about? Where did it all begin? When did certain health predispositions evolve?

My DNA Records:
My father/forefathers: Died from heart disease. On the maternal side of departure: Stroke seems to take the lead.

With that in mind, the anniversary of my dad's passing becomes vivid. A month from today, he will have been gone for over 40 years. Just seems like yesterday.

When I cross an article about heart disease, immediately his life and death flash before me. I often consider that had he lived in the 21st century, he may have survived much longer. And as always, it causes me to evaluate my own health.

Dad's DNA Takes Him Home?
He died at 62 with a heart attack. He had suffered two heart attacks in a matter of two weeks before the fatal blow. His father died at age 59. My paternal grandfather was a painter and collapsed one day while on his ladder, so we assume it was a massive heart attack. His youngest son (now 83!)recently shared with me that it's possible he could have died from lead poisoning from being a painter. But heart attack seems more likely.

Then tracing over the generations back to when my first forefather arrived in America from Germany (originally from Switzerland), most died in their early 60s. The oldest lived to age 68.

As for the rest of my great-grandfathers', dating all the way back to my roots in Switzerland, I don't know "how" they passed. What I do know that they died early (most in their early to mid 60s). Young may be relative to the era of time. Regardless, my family's DNA seems to point to heart disease.

Having two older brothers. I've often wondered, as have they, how this genetic history may play out in their lives. Both of them are in their early 60s. My oldest brother was diagnosed with a mild heart attack when he was in his 30s but has had no issue since. They both embrace cardio.

Is DNA The Defining Factor?
With many experts claiming that 30% of our genetic history may affect our lifespan, we can be encouraged that we do have choices. I would say 70% is a pretty good head start, wouldn't you? Where are my running shoes and my Pilates stability ball?

And the more we know about our DNA, the more control we have of our own destiny.

Genetic Testing For The Cure?
While I would suggest a closer inspection of our personal health choices, I wouldn't go so far as to recommend radical surgery after taking genetic tests that disclose that we may be predisposed for a certain disease.

The fact is, there are people who have radical mastectomies and complete hysterectomies without even a trace of cancer in their bodies: Other than it showed up as a possibility in the DNA tests. I can respect their position and caution. And maybe they are wiser than I. But, for me, it appears a little extreme.

You Mean There Are Risks Besides Our Health?
Johns Hopkins reports that you may risk not getting health insurance based on your genetic code.

A new study published in the February 2007 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics reveals that individuals with genetic conditions are twice as likely to report having been denied health insurance than individuals with other chronic illnesses.

This is not to say that we should forgo genetic testing or that we should have to hide our genetic predispositions. While there are limitations, we are protected by law and cannot be denied insurance. Yet, we may encounter road blocks.

Protection: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Read Johns Hopkins article for more info.

Too, are you ready for what you find out? Some have likened genetic testing to going to a palm reader. hmmmm. Not quite the same!

What Am I Recommending Then?

Practical Measures

  • First we need to begin to control factors like food, exercise, stress.
  • Keep regular check-ups.
  • Take our health in our own hands on a practical level and quit acquiescing our very breath to the medical field.
  • Again, folks, it's called "balance". We must get that etched into our everyday lives.
Awareness and Prevention

  • Find out as much as you can about your personal family health history. I've made calls to older folks in the family searching for answers.
  • Learn about the diseases in your genetic code. Know them like a book.
  • Research.
  • Keep updated as you know how "evidence" changes in the health industry. And if you feel it to your benefit, try genetic testings.
  • Last but certainly not minimal: Find ways to prevent via exercise, food, and reducing stress. Discover which particular exercises, food groups fit your situation best.

In Closing

We each have our health burdens to bear, thanks to our family. This is one area we don't have to acquiesce to their demand!!!!

NOTE: While I don't endorse any of these, you can view these and decide at your own discretion: Genetic Testings, Clk here, and for a long list of testings, clk here.

FYI: I have participated in one DNA testing. A simple saliva test, to which the results were surprising. It showed that I do not have the predisposition to heart disease, which according to the company, doesn't mean that I won't. Go figure.

PHOTO: My daddy!
Article written: 01/21-22/09

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