Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 7

Your parents' health history can provide important
clues to your own health,
including the symptoms and
conditions to look out for and tips for
keeping your body and mind healthy.
But unlocking these clues means understanding their health records as well as
your own.
Before your next doctor visit, ask
your parents these questions about
their health:


Have you ever
had cancer?

This one might be obvious, but
it's possible that your parents had cancer
before you were born or when you were
too young to understand. Certain gene
mutations, which children inherit from
their parents, can increase a person's risk
of cancer. In breast cancer, for example,
genetic mutations cause about 5 to 10
percent of instances of the disease. Colon
cancer is also highly linked to genetics:
Nearly 1 in 3 people diagnosed with the
disease have relatives who have
had it. "Colon cancer in a firstdegree relative should raise
a big red flag," says Octavia
Cannon, D.O., president of
the American College of
Osteopathic Obstetricians


and Gynecologists. "This history should
prompt a conversation with the person's
primary care provider."


How'd your pregnancy
with me go?

Some conditions common during
pregnancy can affect fertility and pregnancy for children. For example, about 20
to 40 percent of women with polycystic
ovary syndrome, where the ovaries don't
release eggs normally, have a mother
or sister with the syndrome and are at
higher risk of miscarriage and infertility.


Have you ever had
heart problems?

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause
of death in the U.S., and understanding
your family's heart health is a big part
of minimizing your risk. An enlarged
heart and cardiac amyloidosis, or the
presence of abnormal protein in the
heart tissue, are among conditions you
can inherit. These should prompt conversations with your doctor.


Wondering what other
health information is pertinent to your own well-being?
famhistory, which has info
about how family health
history can protect
your health.

What about migraines?

"There are studies that have
shown some types of migraines
may have a genetic component,"
Cannon says. Familial hemiplegic
migraines, for example, run in families.

In addition to intense, throbbing pain,
these headaches cause nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and
sound, and they usually appear during
childhood or adolescence.


How's your
mental health?

This can be a sensitive subject, so try to appeal to the family's
well-being-yours and theirs. "Mental
illness may be due to genetics, environment or both," Cannon says. "Some
disorders, like bipolar or schizophrenia,
are more commonly found to have
a hereditary component." Although
knowing your parents' mental health
history can help you better identify
symptoms, Cannon says, it doesn't
guarantee that you will have the
same experiences or illness. 1

5 Things You Should Talk About with Your Teenage Daughter
Puberty can be a difficult
time for any teen, but it
comes with special challenges for young girls.
Octavia Cannon, D.O.,
president of the American
College of Osteopathic
Obstetricians and
Gynecologists, says the
best way a mother can
guide her daughter through
this time is to be open with
her, especially about:
1. Her period. Most girls
have their first period two

years after they begin
puberty, which starts around
age 11. As she approaches
this age, talk to your daughter
about the changes she can
expect from her body.
2. Sex. It's not an easy
conversation, but it's an
important one, so touch
on boundaries, consent
and contraception early on.
"Discussing contraception
is not necessarily giving
permission to become
sexually active," Cannon says.

"I view it as getting to know
your body."
3. The gynecologist. Girls
should schedule their first
gynecologist appointment
around age 13 to 15. The visit
might only be a talk with
her doctor, but it can also
include a pelvic exam, so
talk with your daughter to
make sure she knows what
to expect.
4. Mental health. Talk
through the many ways

mental illness can manifest,
and educate yourself on
common symptoms so you
can help if you notice your
daughter struggling.
5. Self-esteem. Negative
self-talk and body image
are common during teenage
years, so let her know she
can come to you if she's
feeling bad about herself.
"A young woman should not
feel ashamed of her body,
thoughts, fears or concerns,"
Cannon says.

LEARN how a family history of cancer can affect your risk by searching "family history" at


Health Beat - Fall 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Health Beat - Fall 2019

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