Our family health history is a common way to gain some insight into the likelihood of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And this becomes even more important with age. Luckily, we can all breathe a sigh of relief thanks to new research suggesting that chronic disease risk is decreased as we get older because of genetics!
A recent study published in PLOS Genetics looked at the relationship between age and the risk for 24 common diseases including obesity, hyperthyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis in participants who were around 67 years old. Researchers concluded that genetic traits tend to have a weaker effect with age, which can cause the potential of inheriting a disease risk from your parents to lessen over time.
This was especially true in their findings for coronary artery disease, which showed a 6.7 percent increased genetic risk among 45 to 50-year-olds. Whereas, 70 to 75-year-olds only experienced a 2.4 percent growth in chances of developing it. “In such cases, genetic risk has the greatest effect at earlier ages, though the magnitude and form of the drop-off varies among diseases,” the study’s authors wrote.
They went on to emphasize that genetic risk factors are present at birth while non-genetic risk factors like eating or exercise habits accumulate over time. Having these two risk factors together could result in a great chance of getting a chronic disease despite age. One instance where this applied was for the negative effects of high cholesterol leading to heart disease. So while genetics are beyond our control, daily behaviors can also have an impact on our disease risk.
Ultimately, this study clarifies that genetics might not always directly result in a higher risk of a chronic disease especially as we get older. While this is reassuring, it’s always beneficial to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle as another way to lower chronic disease risk.
This includes eating more anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, dark chocolate, and tomatoes to keep your immune system in tip-top shape to ward off viruses and infections. Also, going for an afternoon walk every day can help you lose weight and reverse fatty liver disease. And make sure you’re regularly speaking with your doctor to stay on top of your health so that you can continue to look and feel your best as you get older!