How Genetics Impact Health

What you need to know about your health

Although there are many possible causes of illness and disease, family history and genetics is often one of the strongest contributing factors. People obviously inherit their chromosomes from their parents, but genetic disorders can appear for many reasons. Genetic disorders are grouped by how their patterns occur in families and can be dominant or recessive depending on how they cause conditions and appear within families.



Dominant diseases tend to occur within every generation of an affected family because everyone carrying a dominant mutant gene shows the symptoms of the disease.

Dominant diseases can be caused by one copy of a gene having a DNA mutation. For example, if one parent has the disease, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene.



Recessive diseases are different because both copies of the gene must have a DNA mutation to get one of these diseases. If both parents have a single copy of the mutated gene, then each child has a 25% chance of having the disease, even if neither parent has it.

Recessive diseases are more difficult to trace through family trees because carriers of a mutant allele do not show symptoms of the disease.


Single Gene Disorders:

Single gene disorders are caused by DNA changes in one gene and often have predictable inheritance patterns. Individually, single-gene disorders are very rare, but they affect about one percent of the population.

Aspects of health influenced by genetics

There are likely to be genes whose variability controls how much or how little a person is likely to be responsive to the environmental risk factors that are associated with disease risk. Plus, there are genes that affect a person’s overall longevity that may counteract or interact with genes that may have an additional impact.


Diseases that are single gene inheritance disorders include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and Huntington’s disease. Diseases that are linked to genetic disorders are heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, obesity.


At Foothills Neurology, we understand that seeing a neurologist can make some people feel anxious, but our staff and providers are dedicated to putting you at ease throughout the entire process. Your medical history and family history are important factors that contribute to providing you with the care you need.

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