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At some point in life, most of us get complacent about the status of our health. In our youth we end up feeling like we are invincible and sometimes it all comes crashing down when we suffer from a terminal illness like cancer.
How many of you will believe us when we say cancer can be inherited? Well, not all cancers but some of them are inherited or rather have more proclivity towards some individuals than the rest.
Read further to find out which cancers are inherited, why and how:
Cancer is an anomaly or an abnormal change in the genetic makeup of the cells which are supposed to grow and divide normally. The abnormality caused by the gene is carried to the offsprings, which causes the same kind of disorder in their respective children. This phenomenon is called gene mutation.
What exactly is gene mutation?
Gene mutation can cause a healthy cell to:
Allow rapid and excessive growth: A gene mutation can make a healthy cell to grow unusually or abnormally fast. This leads to the cells growing at a faster rate than necessary and causes disturbance to the tissues (muscles, fat tissues, arteries, veins etc) beside them and obstructs the blood flow for normal tissues.
Failure to stop growing: Normal cells know when to grow and when to stop. They also have a mechanism where they destroy themselves (apoptosis). This does not occur in mutated cells. They do not have the apoptosis phase. Cancer cells lose the ability to stop growing(tumour suppressor genes). A mutation in the tumor suppressor gene causes the cancer to grow uncontrollably.
These are the most common reasons for cancer inheritance although there are other contributing factors for cancer.
What are the causes of gene mutation?
Heredity owned gene mutation: These types of mutations are the ones that a person is born with and they manifest no matter the what the preventive measures are. A person may be born with a genetic mutation from their parents. This type of inherited mutation accounts for a very small percentage of cancers.
Genetic mutation occurred after birth: Most gene mutations occur after a person is born and is exposed to different kinds of mutating agents like radiation, smoking, cancer causing chemicals, viruses, sedentary lifestyle, et cetera These mutating agents alters the genetic makeup of an individual’s cell, hormones and can cause chronic inflammation disorders.
The most common query after reading the above passage will be:
So, let’s say I am predisposed with mutated genes from my parents. Then am I bound to get cancer?
The answer is NO!
If you have inherited genetic mutation that predisposes you to cancer, it does not mean you will certainly get cancer. All it means is the risk of you getting cancer is much higher than others with no genetic mutation.
Risk Factors to keep an eye out for:
While cancer researchers and Doctors have a fair idea as to what might cause cancer, it does not restrict itself to just cancer prone individuals.
Let’s take a look at the factors leading to cancer:
AGE: Cancer can take days to decades to develop. That is why most of the people with cancer are in their 60s and above. Although the norms are changing for cancers like lung cancer, throat cancer, et cetera. This is probably because of the lifestyle changes and is not the outcome of any inherited genes.
Lifestyle Choices: Certain lifestyle choices are known to increase the risk of cancer such as habit of smoking, drinking, sedentary lifestyle, absence of exercise, obesity, unsafe sexual prowesses, excessive exposure to sun, etc.
Environmental Factors: Some environmental factors may contain harmful chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer like excessive retention of fluorine in the soil, chemicals at home or workplace such as asbestos, benzene, etc.
If you do not have any signs and symptoms, but you are worried that you might have mutated gene inheritance, discuss your concerns with your doctor and ask about the cancer screening tests appropriate for you.You can consult an expert privately in less than 30 minutes only on DocsApp.
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