You Asked, We Answered: Extending Your Lifespan

Dr. Oz answered: Mammals have a combination of inheritance from both parents, which is why our reproductive system is so effective. Whoever you are most like on the outside AND inside will be most predictive. because you have normal blood pressure and this is the most important predictor, I bet you are safe (assuming you don't smoke).

Patricia from Washington, D.C., asked: "Hi Dr Oz, When considering family history is family branch (maternal versus paternal) pertinent? I am a woman whose mother is alive and well at 86 yet on my paternal side the news is not good: my father died of prostate CA and all his siblings have had breast or prostate Ca. Doctors have told me that my maternal side is the most influential for me. Do you agree?"

Dr. Oz answered: Neither parent overwhelms our genetic inheritance. Again, whoever you are most like on the outside AND inside will be most predictive. Do you look like one side or the other? Who do you look like on the inside. Do you have any risk factors for cancer like the BRCA gene for breast cancer. Did the paternal side have poor health habits like smoking or tolerating obesity? These questions will lead you to logical deductions on risk until we have the genetic testing to provide more objective answers

Jerry from Rochester, N.Y.,: "I understand how and why life style changes and behavior can effect our lives. What I don't understand is if we have genetic building blocks for disease how is it, with alterations in life style and behavior, choices do change these outcomes, if they can at all?"

Dr. Oz answered: Genes are like the blue print of your house. You don't have to build directly from them, and, in fact, depending on available materials, you will sometimes deviate quite a bit. Not all genes become proteins and our bodies will transcribe what is needed when needed. Only a third of our health destiny is genetic. We control the rest (as well as the output of our genes). Smoking will turn on different genes than high blood pressure or running.

Eleanor from Richfield, Ohio, asked: "In your report, the power of 2, you mentioned that by knowing our family health history, one can find out 'what kind of proteins our body makes'. What does that mean and is there a test to learn about 'proteins our body makes'? Do our relatives need to be tested to find this out? In the case of a person whose parents have already passed on, is it too late to get information regarding "proteins" that have been dominant in the family?"

Dr. Oz answered: Genes are transcribed into proteins when they are needed, and this process is controlled by our inheritance and our health habits. If we stress the body, we make more of certain proteins and wear the system down over time, causing shortening of telemeres (the caps on our chromosomes) and subsequent aging. There are several companies doing this testing now, including 23andMe and Navigentics Inc.

Benjamin from San Antonio, Texas, asked: "I went to the doctor today and my blood pressure was at 140 over 100. Should I be alarmed at this measure? What can I do to lower it?"

Dr. Oz answered: You should be very alarmed since this is the single most important cause of aging and will strip 10 years off your life. The ideal BP is 115/75 and you can get there by exercising 30 minutes a day, losing weight until your belly fat (omentum) is gone, joining a stress management program, avoiding processed foods and sometimes taking medications.

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