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12 - 18 May , 2012
7 Questions To Ask Your Mum(by NESHMIA)
7 Questions To Ask Your MumForget crystal balls, if you want to know how your health future looks, just quiz your nearest and dearest

Whether it's her frizzy hair, pear-shaped figure or freaky toe, there's no escaping it, some things in life you inherit from your mother. But the inheritance runs much deeper than we think. We not only look like our mothers, but how we age and the health conditions we're most susceptible to can be passed down through generations just like an heirloom. However, the good news is that by asking your mum some key questions and making some simple lifestyle choices, you can start combating these issues now. So get the kettle on, and get your mum ready for a grilling.

1. Is it me or have you got shorter as you've got older?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to lose their density and become more fragile, and if your mum suffers from it, as you age you're more likely to suffer from it too. It's worth having a look at your family history because research is increasingly emphasising the link between heredity and osteoporosis, and as much as 85 per cent of bone development may be down to genetics. You might be able to piece together clues by asking your mother whether any relatives had a dowager's hump (where the spine curves outwards) or lost height as they got older (a sure sign that the bones are weaker). With lifestyle choices, for example stocking up on calcium and vitamin D and doing 'weight bearing exercises' such as dancing and running, you can strengthen your bones and alleviate the potential symptoms.

2. Can you see me pulling faces at you from here?
If your mum wears glasses then it might be worth giving your eyes a test, as bad eyesight doesn't just come with age, it can be inherited, too. Have difficulty focusing on distant objects? Then you're among 7 Questions To Ask Your Mumthe most common group of people who suffer from eye conditions, which is generally caused by an enlarged eyeball, and usually begins in childhood. Fear not though, because a group of scientists in London have discovered the gene that causes short sightedness and are developing a treatment involving 'solution drops' – meaning glasses and contact lenses could become a thing of the past. You may have to wait a few years before the solution is available though, so until then pack in a diet full of antioxidents and omega 3, which have been proven to protect eye health. Also try to fit in some brisk walking, which can reduce age-related eye degeneration by 70 per cent.

3. Has anyone in our family ever experience breast cancer?
No one wants to think about cancer, but the 'big C' is mostly caused by a genetic abnormality that can be inherited. The likelihood of developing breast cancer increases when a single or multiple family members are known to have suffered, particularly if the family member is your mother (known as a 'first degree relative'). A second degree relative such as a grandmother or aunt is slightly less of a risk. While previously, it was more women in their 40s and above who were most affected by breast cancer, an increasing number of women in their early 30s now suffer. Studies by the World Cancer Research Fund have shown that 40 per cent of all cancers, including breast cancer, could be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle and that early detection increases the chances of survival by up to 98 per cent.

4. Have you been filling upon fatty burgers behind my back?
With the hot weather approaching you could be forgiven for whacking up the air-conditioner and laying down on the sofa with a takeaway. Such behaviour is going to play havoc on your waistline, but it could lead to diabetes. One side effect of obesity is Type II diabetes, when the body can't make insulin to release the glucose in your blood, which is the result of an unhealthy diet and too many sofa-bound hours, rather than genetic disposition. If obesity runs in your family then ask your mum and find out 7 Questions To Ask Your Mumwhether there's a strong history of Type II diabetes too. If so, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. The good news is that staying active and following a healthy diet, including carbs to keep your glucose levels stable, reducing fat, sugar and salt levels to 6g a day, can help.

5. Is your sad mood sign of something more serious?
Weak on energy? Teary? Feeling sad for weeks at a time? Depression is a serious condition and affects twice as many women as men, and around 10 million people worldwide. More worryingly, there's a 23 per cent chance of you suffering from depression if your mother has it. Classified as a chronic illness, treatment for depression is available and can involve prescription medication, as well as various counselling services proven to help. Ask your mother if she's ever been prescribed antidepressants. The best advice if you're concerned about inheriting any genetic conditions from your mother is to visit your doctor and provide them with a family history so that he can assess the risk factors.

6. Have you been slouching around on the sofa too much?
Having a family history of Alzheimer's is the strongest risk factor for developing the condition. Undoubtedly you'll know if a parent or grandparent has suffered from this disease, which is a form of dementia and includes memory loss, confusion and mood swings, but what you might not know is that research has found that an exercise routine of just 30 minutes a day will increase the oxygen to your brain and keep you mentally agile. No matter what your lifestyle, if you smoke or have a family history of Alzheimer's, a simple adjustment to your daily routine can lower your risk by more than 52 per cent. The message is that it's never too late to start exercising. Whatever you do will give you, a benefit. Time to start hitting that treadmill…

7. When did your time-of the-month come to an end?
Okay, so the menopause sounds like something from Victorian times and indeed seems like light years away, but while most women experience it between the ages of 40-58, for an unlucky few (one to five per cent) it can make an early appearance. Ask your mum about her experience, especially at what age she went through hers, as it may give you clues as to what your body has in store for you. The one thing that's certain is that active or passive smoking will accelerate the onset of menopause by up to two years, so there's an extra reason to give up. On the opposite end of the scale, being overweight can delay your menopause, bringing with it a higher risk of developing breast cancer and uterine or ovarian cancer. Have regular health checks with your doctor including a yearly smear test to ensure you catch any symptoms early.

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