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In determining your current health risk, does it matter what your past medical statistics were, or only your current medical statistics matter?

Thought experiment 1 (TE1): If there are two twins A and B, A has high blood sugar his whole life and B has had low blood sugar for the first half of his life and high blood sugar for the second half of his life, do they currently have the same risk of getting diabetes?

Thought experiment 2 (TE2): If there are two twins C and D, C has had high cholesterol for his whole life but recently got it down to normal levels, whereas D has always had normal levels, who has higher risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) currently?

Followup question: If past medical statistics matter, is it the accumulation or trend that matters? For example, in TE2, if trend matters, C has a better trend and hence lower risk of CHD. If accumulation matters instead, then C has a higher risk of CHD because of past unhealthy statistics.

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  • You seem to be equating genetics with medical history but the two are not the same. A family history of certain diseases increases your chances of getting those diseases, but it's rarely as strong a risk factor as your own medical history. Both have to be considered and neither can be ignored, but your history is virtually always a more powerful predictor than anything about your siblings, identical twins or not. (And you do mean identical twins, right? Fraternal twins share no more DNA than any other pair of siblings.)
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 8 '16 at 22:44
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    The answer is likely to be "it depends on which risk you are talking about; some are cumulative, some are memoryless". (An example of a memoryless risk is jumping out of an airplane. An example of a cumulative risk is smoking.) As a result, the question seems too broad. To make this answerable, I suggest editing the question to focus on a single specific risk, rather than asking about all possible risks.
    – D.W.
    Jul 5 '16 at 18:47
  • You can answer this one with a quick thought experiment. Picture any element of medical history ever, and look into whether or not it causes long-term biological changes. For example, childhood obesity can increase number of fat cells in the human body, which can make it harder for the body to lose weight later on, and therefore increases risks of weight gain and associated conditions. If some condition leaves known effects, then there's clearly a memory effect. If a condition doesn't, it could be that there is no memory effect, or maybe just that the associated effects are not yet known. Jul 7 '16 at 20:35

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