Howard University Multicultural Media Academy in partnership with the Dow Jones News Fund

Learning From Your Family’s Health History

By Zachary Williams

Whether a person has good or bad health is defined by a person’s mental or physical condition. One of the interesting things about health in a family setting is that most mental and physical conditions are hereditary. With this, a person could find out what adverse conditions run in the family, and work on it beforehand. For me, my family has a history of lung cancer. People in my family have lung cancer because they smoked a lot. Not all smokers get lung cancer, but the fact that people in my family have gotten cancer from smoking shows that if I smoke, it could be fatal. 

There is also a history of diabetes in my family. A lot of my family members have type 2 diabetes, which can be contracted at any age. Type 2 diabetes affects many people.  It affects 6.28 percent of the world’s population, which is 462 million people. The fact that it runs in my family means there is an even more increased chance of me having type 2 diabetes. Knowing this ahead of time is good for me because it made my parents watch what types of foods I ate as a child, and as I got older. I determined what was and was not good for me. 

Another interesting thing about health is my community’s focus on increasing good health. In my neighborhood there is a walking track with a lake in the center that was recently built. People can now walk, jog, fish, and feed birds. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, having to spend a lot of time inside really decreases physical and mental health. Not being able to go to a fitness center made it especially important for the community to stay active. Also, being around others increases mental health. We, as human beings, are not solitary creatures, so being quarantined indoors all day really decreases mental health. Being able to talk or even be around other people can really increase a person’s mental state and health.

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