Here’s how important your mother’s genes are for your future:
While mothers are only half of what makes us up genetically, there is one gene that we can only get from them, and it’s important to have a conversation now with your mom about her conditions.
This is according to Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist directing the G2P Research Program in translational genomics and health outcomes in the Division of Genetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Daughters and sons can only inherit the genes that are the blueprint for making mitochondria in our bodies from mothers, given that only the egg carries it.
Mitochondria are the tiny organelles in cells that aid in energy production and energy flow in the body, so if you suspect something is wrong with yours and your mother is in good health, it may be time to discuss family health history, Green added.
“When there is something wrong with the mitochondria, you can only inherit those conditions from your mother,” Green explained. “You don’t usually notice them if they’re all working normally.”
But Green and Dr. Wendy Chung, a geneticist at New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, added that when the conversation does arise and you are met with not-so-nice news about your family’s health history, be mindful to not fall into what they call the “genetic fateists,” or when you think a condition is inevitable because it’s in your history.
“[But rather to] use that as an opportunity to think about where to put some of their energies and where to be able to think about things that are effective in terms of intervention,” said Chung.
While cancer and heart ailments have genetic components, changes in your lifestyle: getting active, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating properly, are all proactive steps to ‘overcome’ its likelihood of showing up because of your genes.
“So even though [your mother]may have followed a certain path, it’s not a fait accompli that you’re going to follow the same path,” Chung said.
Read more on their thoughts here.