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This Family Portrait Can Save Lives

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Blue eyes. Blond hair. Killer smile. Killer genes?

Who we are is in large part determined by what we inherit from the spin of the roulette wheel of our parent’s genetic make-up. That individualistic cocktail, part essence of mom’s, part essence of dad’s DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) provides the code that maps our bodies. Some bits are as obvious and benign as the color of our eyes. Other more ominous pieces silently harbor the seeds of deadly disease. As Richard Dawkins wrote in “River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life,” “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

Did you know that one-third of all deaths in the United States are due to preventable disease? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reveals, “Health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases–heart disease, cancer, and diabetes–and rare diseases–like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia–can run in families. If one generation of a family has high blood pressure, it is not unusual for the next generation to have similarly high blood pressure. Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy.”

To read more, pick up a copy of the October 2014 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy here.

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About Author

Recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, Dana Greyson is a freelance writer, former mediator and world traveler. When she’s not exploring, she’s usually writing. She blogs about her sailing adventures on Galley Wench Tales.

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