7 Diseases that Run in the Family

Some diseases that affect multiple family members are caused by gene mutations, which can be hereditary – passed down from parent to child.

When looking at family health risks, the closer the relative affected, and the younger they were at the time, the higher the potential risk to you.

As family members you may share genes, habits, and environments that can affect your risk of getting any medical condition.

However, this doesn’t mean you will definitely get that particular medical condition if some of your close family members have it, but that you may have an increased risk of developing it as compared to other people.

Common hereditary diseases

1. Cancer

Some types of cancer can run in families. For example, your risks of developing certain types of breast cancer, bowel cancer or ovarian cancer are higher if you have close relatives who developed the condition.

Cancers caused by inherited faulty genes are much less common than those caused by other factors, such as ageing, smoking, being overweight etc.

2. Diabetes

Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes greatly increases your risk for getting diabetes at some point in your life.

3. Arthritis

This includes gout, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis that have a strong family tendency.

4. Blood disorders

Blood disorders can affect any of the three main components of blood;

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues
  • White blood cells, which fight infections
  • Platelets, which help blood to clot

They include thalassemia , haemophilia, sickle cell anaemia etc

5. Autoimmune diseases

This tendency may be large or small depending on the disease but, in general, close relatives are more likely to develop the same or a related autoimmune disease. They include diabetes type 1, vitiligo, alopecia areata, rheumatoid, arthritis etc.

6. Heart disease

Many heart disorders can be inherited, including arrhythmias, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and high blood cholesterol.

7. Eye diseases

Genetic factors play a role in many kinds of eye disease, including those diseases that are the leading cause of blindness among infants, children and adults. Such diseases include cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are leading causes of visual loss.


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