Each cell in your body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. One chromosome from each pair is inherited from your mother, while one is inherited from your father. The chromosomes carry the genes you inherit from your parents, which often include disorders caused by faulty genes.
In a previous article, we discussed how your genes play a significant role in your overall fitness level. Today, we will delve into “faulty” genetics and the types of diseases you can inherit from your parents.
What Are Faulty Genes
Faulty genes are mostly, but not always, recessive alleles. Some faulty genes that increase cancer risks can be passed on from parent to child, and these are called inherited cancer genes. This occurs when there’s an abnormality in the genes within the egg or sperm cell.
Normally, your genes should protect you against cancer by correcting DNA damages that naturally occurs when cells divide. Inheriting a faulty copy of one of these genes means it cannot repair the damaged DNA in cells, which increases your risk of developing cancer.
A cell must have at least six gene faults or mutations to grow cancerous. These faults work by influencing cells to stop their normal functions, and become cancerous by growing and dividing uncontrollably. Most genetic changes occur during our lifetime, but some can be inherited directly from a parent.
Examples of Inherited Diseases
The presence of an abnormal gene that is passed from generation to generation can cause cancers running in families. Although this is widely referred to as inherited cancer, you only inherit the abnormal gene that can lead to cancer, not the disease itself. According to the American Cancer Society, only 5% to 10% of all cancers are thought to result directly from gene defects inherited from a parent.
The following are examples of diseases you could potentially inherit from either of your parents:
1. Breast and Ovarian Cancer
The risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer are very high in women with mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, but tends to lean higher with BRCA1 mutations.
2. Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer or Lynch Syndrome
A genetic fault or mutation in any of the several mismatch repair genes, including MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS1, and PMS2 causes Lynch Syndrome. Usually, these genes are involved in repairing damaged DNA. But when one of these genes malfunction, cells can develop errors in their DNA, which can lead to other mutations and eventually, cancer.
3. Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
Li-Fraumeni syndrome is an inherited syndrome that can lead to the development of diverse cancers ranging from leukemia to brain cancer. This syndrome is often caused by inherited mutations in the TP53 gene, also known as a tumor suppressor gene. A normal TP53 gene creates a protein that aids in stopping abnormal cells from growing. Mutations in a tumor suppressor gene called CHEK2 can also cause Li-Fraumeni Syndrome.
Take Action Today
If you think there’s a possibility of having a cancer gene fault in your family, ease your tension and anxiety by consulting your general practitioner today. Discuss your family history, and if in fact, you have a strong history and was diagnosed with a particular type of cancer, do not hesitate to contact us for treatment recommendations.