WHAT’S IN MY GENES, ANY­WAY?

Fairlady - - HEALTH -

Tests that re­veal ge­netic al­ter­ations that in­crease the risk of cer­tain can­cers and in­her­ited dis­or­ders are avail­able to high-risk fam­i­lies. Di­rect-to-con­sumer tests are also avail­able, but ex­perts are con­cerned about their cred­i­bil­ity and safety.

A sim­ple way to as­sess whether you have po­ten­tially in­her­ited a higher risk of cer­tain dis­eases is to look at your fam­ily’s health his­tory. Here are five health is­sues that your genes may put you more at risk of, but where life­style habits can spark pro­tec­tive epi­ge­netic changes. Type 2 di­a­betes

If one of your par­ents has it, your risk dou­bles, and if both par­ents have the con­di­tion, you’re about six times more likely to be di­ag­nosed with type 2 di­a­betes.

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cal­cu­lat­ing your waist-to-height ra­tio, by di­vid­ing your waist cir­cum­fer­ence by your height (both in cen­time­tres). A ra­tio of 0,5 or higher in­di­cates an in­creased di­a­betes risk, partly be­cause be­ing over­weight trig­gers changes to di­a­betes-re­lated genes. If your ra­tio is higher than that, aim to lose five per­cent of your body weight – that’s enough to re­duce your risk of di­a­betes.

Rheuma­toid arthri­tis

If a first-de­gree rel­a­tive is di­ag­nosed with it, you’re three times more likely to de­velop it.

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down­load­ing the Smil­ing Mind app and us­ing it to help you med­i­tate for a few min­utes each day. You can dim the ac­tion of genes thought to play a role in the de­vel­op­ment of rheuma­toid arthri­tis. Med­i­ta­tion ef­fec­tively com­bats stress, which has been shown to in­crease the risk of this con­di­tion.

High blood pres­sure

Look out for a blood rel­a­tive, like a par­ent or sib­ling, who de­vel­ops high blood pres­sure be­fore the age of 60 – that could mean you’re twice as likely to have high blood pres­sure too.

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eat­ing kim­chi and sauer­kraut. Not only do they en­cour­age pos­i­tive changes in the ex­pres­sion of genes linked to blood pres­sure, both these foods con­tain potas­sium, which helps to lower blood pres­sure by bal­anc­ing the body’s fluid lev­els. Main­tain­ing a healthy body weight, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and lim­it­ing your salt and al­co­hol in­take will also help to keep your blood pres­sure in check.

Bowel cancer

If a first-de­gree rel­a­tive is di­ag­nosed with it be­fore age 55, or two first- or sec­ond-de­gree rel­a­tives from the same side of the fam­ily are di­ag­nosed at any age, your bowel-cancer risk is up to six times higher.

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eat­ing whole­grains and/ or legumes with each meal as both con­tain fi­bre and re­sis­tant starch. The risk of bowel cancer falls by 10 per­cent with every 10g of fi­bre you eat a day, and re­sis­tant starch sparks healthy epi­ge­netic changes, which may help coun­ter­act the in­creased bowel cancer risk associated with eat­ing red meat.

Heart dis­ease

If your dad was di­ag­nosed with it be­fore age 55 or your mom de­vel­oped it be­fore she turned 65, your risk of heart dis­ease is three times higher than av­er­age.

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do­ing at least 150 min­utes of ex­er­cise a week to switch off cer­tain genes and im­prove the way your body stores fat, which helps pre­vent weight gain. Along with keep­ing blood pres­sure and choles­terol lev­els within the healthy range, main­tain­ing a healthy weight re­duces the risk of heart dis­ease.

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