Family related health problems fall into two categories: physical and mental illnesses or syndromes. There are several types of illnesses in both categories that are genetically inherited, often passed down strictly through either the maternal or paternal side of the family genealogy.
One example of a family related disease of a physical nature is that of breast cancer. Generally speaking when a mother experiences breast cancer her daughters should receive regular mammograms in response to their mothers condition. It is a recognized fact in the health community that cancer is indeed inherited through a genetic link.
Sometimes however cancer may skip a generation or even two. A cancer that a grandparent or great-grandparent suffered might not be expressed again until the arrival of grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Unfortunately, one drawback in this case is that early signs of cancer might go unnoticed since cancer in ones ancestors may eventually be forgotten and simply become a part of family history.
Another family related health problem is obesity. It is an undeniable fact that the majority of obese people hail from an obese family genealogy. A conflicting viewpoint is that lifestyle, rather than genetics plays a role in this condition, yet most researchers are undecided on this issue. To be sure lifestyle characteristics are learned from an early age and the sedentary family with poor eating habits is doing a disservice to their children. However, those families who lead a reasonable lifestyle yet continue to suffer weight problems may well express an inherited genetic tendency toward obesity.
Family related mental health problems are also genetically linked. Mood disorders such as Bipolar Disorder and psychoses such as Schizophrenia are typical examples of inherited mental illness. These illnesses too can often skip a generation or two within a family genealogy and therefore go unrecognized and untreated for several years.
Drug and alcohol addictions are yet another family related health problem. The argument again with this issue is whether or not there is an inherited propensity towards addiction or if such a condition is the result of the familial environment. Perhaps there is room for confusion about drug and alcohol addiction as a possible genetic problem since many families may have only one member who suffers from drug dependency. The argument surrounding this phenomenon then is whether or not it is possible that only one family member can inherit a drug or alcohol dependency while others do not.
Finally there is another category entirely of family related health problems. Is it possible to create such an unhappy and dysfunctional environment that family members may become physically and emotionally ill? It would seem that this is very possibly the case, particularly in families experiencing neglect and harsh abuse. In this instance the concept of family related health problems is very literal, as these unfortunate issues are brought about solely by the familial environment and not by an inherited condition.
by Ian Pennington