Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 29

The bond of mothers
and daughters can be
beautiful or fraught or
somewhere in between,
but one thing is certain: There is an undeniable link between
them-especially when
it comes to health.
Knowing certain things about your mother's health, from the age at which she
went through menopause to her history
of certain cancers and heart disease, can
help you and your doctor get a better handle on your own health-and it can help
you know what lifestyle changes to make
to mitigate your risks.
"You want to look at your mother's
health history as a series of potentials
for you," says Christiane Northrup,
MD, author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom:
Understanding the Crucial Link Between
Mothers, Daughters, and Health.
Health "What we
really want people to know is how to get
conscious about the factors involved in
how genes express themselves, so that they
can change them through the way they
live. That's where a daughter's point of
power is."
That is to say: Your mom's health history is relevant, but it's not your destiny.
Here's what you should know about it and
what you should share with your daughter
to protect her, too.

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Your Mom's Experience with Cancer

Almost every pre-appointment screening questionnaire asks
about your family's risk of cancer, and for good reason. Certain
genetic mutations lead to a direct increase in your risk for certain cancers-specifically breast, uterine and colon cancers, says
JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, executive director of the North American
Menopause Society. If your mother carries one of those genes, you
are more likely to also carry it.
"The two major risks for women are the breast cancer gene,
BRCA, which is more common in certain ethnic groups, and Lynch
syndrome, which we used to think of as rare and only associated
with colon polyps and colon cancer, but we now know is also associated with uterine cancer," Pinkerton says. "That's why your doctor asks you if your mother or your maternal grandmother had
breast or ovarian cancers"-and why you should ask your mother if
you don't know.
But it's important to remember that just because your mom
or grandma had cancer does not mean you will get it, too,
Pinkerton says.
"Regardless of what someone's genetic risk is, there are lifestyle
choices that women can make to decrease their chances of getting
the disease," Pinkerton says.
Many of them you already know: Maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise regularly. Eat nutritious food. Don't smoke. Limit alcohol.
But there's more to it, Pinkerton adds: "That's all true, but you
also need to get enough sleep, and you need to think about stress
reduction. All of those things are really important for women,
regardless of whether they have family risks."
For women who do have a family history of certain cancers, a
genetic counselor can help you assess your risk and identify steps to
protect yourself.

FALL 2019

29



Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 3
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 4
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - 5
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2019 - GMC - Cover4
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