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An aching head

An aching head
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Seventy to 80 percent of people with migraines have a relative who gets these awful headaches, too, according to the National Headache Foundation. “One of the main risk factors for migraines is a family history of migraines,” Todd Sontag, DO, a family medicine specialist with Orlando Health Physician Associates, told Reader’s Digest.

Find out how to survive the 8 different types of migraine. 

Body shape

Body shape
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All you have to do is look at some parents and children to know that body shape and size is genetic. Some research suggests that certain body types are more likely to be inherited than others. Belly fat, for instance: An apple-shaped body may be more dependent on genes than being pear-shaped or straight up and down. A larger middle is something to take note of, since an apple shape is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums
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If your mum or dad struggled with gingivitis or periodontal disease, it’s important that you pay particular attention to your own mouth, experts say. Up to one-third of people are genetically predisposed to developing gum disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. You know what to do: Floss, brush twice a day and see the dentist twice a year.

Here’s how to say goodbye to bad breath for good. 

Colour blindness

Colour blindness
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The genes for the ability to “see” the colours red and green are located on the X chromosome. Women have two X’s, which means that if they get one mutated colour gene, they can still distinguish colours thanks to the other good copy. Men, on the other hand, have only one X. So when they get a colour blindness gene, they’re stuck with it. That’s why men are more than 16 times more likely than women to be colour-blind.

Weight

Weight
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Decades of studies done on twins and family members have led researchers to conclude that a significant part of a person’s weight could be due to genetics. That’s because your weight is based not only on lifestyle choices such as diet and physical activity, but also on other genetic traits such as appetite, a natural tendency to store fat (or not), and other metabolic factors, according to the CDC. Familial obesity is rarely due to just one gene; it probably comes down to interactions between your environment and a variety of genetic factors. No matter what your genes or body size may be, you can improve health with healthy behaviours such as moving regularly, eating nutritious food and reducing stress.

Discover 5 ways to trick your fat genes and take the weight off. 

High blood sugar

High blood sugar
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Type 2 diabetes isn’t just caused by a poor diet or lack of exercise – genes handed down by your parents and grandparents are a major factor, too. But don’t despair: “A person can trump a lot of the inherited risk with healthy behaviours,” Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD and specialist in preventive medicine told WebMD.

Discover what’s new and what’s next in the treatment of diabetes. 

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Depression

Depression
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The research is clear: Depression does run in families. If a parent or sibling of yours has depression, you have between an 11 and 18 percent risk of developing depression, too – which is significantly higher than the average risk of 1 to 7 percent, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Studies suggest several different genetic roots, including a mutation in a gene known as MTHFR – it’s been linked to other health problems, too. If depression runs in your family, talk to your doctor.

Here are 10 ways to be happier without even trying. 

Eating disorders

Eating disorders
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There’s a persistent myth that eating disorders such as binge eating, night-eating syndrome, anorexia and bulimia are a matter of choice or lifestyle. Decades of medical research, however, demonstrate that eating disorders are at least partly rooted in genetics. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, found that a flawed appetite-control gene is linked to people with obesity and binge-eating disorder, the most common eating disorder among both men and women. If you worry that your behaviour with food may be disordered, speak to your doctor.

Severe mood swings

Severe mood swings
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Bipolar disorder causes extreme swings in mood and behaviour, from manic highs to severely depressed lows. It usually shows up in the late teens, but symptoms can emerge at any age. The genetic links aren’t well understood, but your risk is greater if a parent or sibling has it. “Most mental health diagnoses are believed to be a result of some combination of genes and environment, but having the genetic predisposition does not always mean that someone will experience that particular mental health condition,” says Samar McCutcheon, MD and psychiatrist. “A thorough health assessment should always involve a family mental health history. This can alert the clinician to particular conditions to monitor for more closely.”

Pregnancy issues

Pregnancy issues
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Severe morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, can be inherited. Although it’s rare, recurrent miscarriages can sometimes be caused by a chromosome issue passed down from parents to their daughters. If you’re looking to start a family, it’s a good idea to ask your mum for some more details about how her pregnancies went, and report any news back to your health-care provider.

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