The Importance of Genetics in Preventative Medicine

One of the best ways to maintain one's health is to prevent the formation of diseases. A person's risk factor for diseases depends on a wide variety of variables. For example, exposure to toxins in the environment can greatly increase the risks for certain types of diseases. One of the most important factors that determine disease risk factor is genetics.

Genetics are inherited from a person's parents. Given the inherited nature of genetic predispositions to certain diseases, a person can do little to completely remove the risk factors for contracting an illness. However, many people can take steps to mitigate their risk factors. By studying the disease tendencies in a person's family, certain risk factors can be assessed in advance. This allows doctors to set a patient on an effective preventative plan.

For example, a person whose family history of illness includes colorectal cancer can take steps to minimize their risk of contracting this illness. This can include eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and avoiding food like red meat. Lynch Syndrome is a type of colorectal cancer that is particularly likely to be inherited via genetics. This syndrome is sometimes referred to as Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer, or HNPCC. Men are particularly susceptible to the various forms of colon cancer, while women are instead prone to uterine cancer. Genetics also plays a role in risk factors for uterine cancer in women.

By examining a patient's family history, the risk factors for a variety of diseases can be assessed, and doctors can begin developing lifestyle plans that can minimize the patient's risk of contracting these diseases. Genetic risk can also be assessed by performing tests on a person's tissue, which can help those with limited medical data on their family. This is valuable for those who are adopted and do not have access to their birth parents' medical history. By performing such a test, a doctor can assist any patient in developing a healthy lifestyle. This can help them stay healthy and live a long, enriching life that is free from disease and illness.