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 first-degree
relative should raise a big red flag," says
Octavia Cannon, DO, 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
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.

famhistory, which
has info about how
family health history
can protect your

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? Visit

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, DO,
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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