Sunday, January 9, 2011

Discovery Isn’t Always Joyful

Continuing with my French-Canadian research has not only led to fun discoveries such as being able to apply for a lineage society and to know that our ancestors can be traced to the 7th century, but also has allowed discovery of some seemingly serious health issues.

I know that Kris is interested in this because of some health concerns he has and, up to now, this has not been as interesting to me.  But, the other night a real revelation occurred.

I am not sure what I googled, but I noticed an article linking French Canadian descendants with high cholesterol. Since both my mom and I have high cholesterol but not the lifestyle that is often associated with high cholesterol (active, not overweight, non-smoke and drink), my doctor and I have often wondered why I have high cholesterol. Now I have some clues.

My interest was piqued a while ago while looking at the syllabus for the NEGHS Regional Conference taking place in Springfield, MA (my birthplace) in April. I noticed a presentation by Muriel Normand on “From Quebec to New England: They Brought Along Their Genes.” Naturally, I was curious so did some Googling. I didn’t find much the first night I tried except to learn that French Canadians and their descendants have a form of Tay Sachs disease which is also found in Askenazi Jews.

Then, the other night I found the article on high cholesterol. The first one I read was so filled with technical jargon, I understood nothing other than this is a phenomena found in the descendants. Heart attacks in early life are also common. I did understand that the gene that causes this high cholesterol has been identified.

Obviously, this subject needs more study. Oh, how I would love to attend the conference in Springfield…

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