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New Year’s Resolutions: Think Ahead

As we begin 2013, we are all thinking ahead to how we could make this year a good one.  Many of us will come up with goals or New Year’s resolutions. I find that 2 of the most common things people promise themselves  is to spend more time with their families and to keep healthy. I cannot imagine how much gym memberships go up in the month of January!

I think we can approach both the family and health resolutions  from a genetics perspective. First, as you are spending all this time with your families, I urge you to open up and talk about health issues with them. I cannot stress how often my patients tell me about major medical problems in relatives that they don’t realize are genetic and may actually affect them as well. So if you have something, please don’t hide it from your families. And take the time to ask other family members if they have anything going on. Like it or not, genetics brings families together.

And keeping healthy—be proactive about your health. Yes, keeping healthy means maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, cutting down on alcohol and smoking, reducing stress etc. But it also means taking preventative measures to reduce the chance of developing a health problem. Health screening measures include (but are not limited to) blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring, mammograms for women over age 40, colonoscopies for men and women over age 50, vaccinations for children and other screening tests like bone density and prostate exams.

And of course, if you are thinking about having children in the near future, make sure to get tested for common genetic diseases that could affect your offspring, ideally before becoming pregnant. If you and your partner are both carriers of a genetic disease, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid having an affected child.

So make 2013 count—think ahead and do what you can now. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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