Sunday February 18, 2018
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It’s hard for these dads to talk about love … but they do

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My proud father beaming as he holds little Wilbur.

It’s Father’s Day! While the holiday isn’t formally celebrated in the rural area of southern India where I live, I still have to tell my dad how much I appreciate him, love him and how thankful I am for all he has done — although I’m a little apprehensive about how he will respond to my mushy affections.

It’s not uncommon for fathers to struggle with expressing their love for their children, but also with loving their children equally. Some rejoice at the birth of a son and grieve when a daughter is born.

I decided to go out and ask a trio of dads in my village to share their thoughts about fatherhood with me.

Mayilsami, 67, is a father of one daughter.

                                                                   Mayilsami, 67, is a father of one daughter.

Mayilsami

Some people in India may grieve when a daughter is born, but not Mayilsami. The 67-year-old retired factory worker says he tries to raise his daughter in the “jolliest” way possible.

“Whatever she asked, I would give her,” he says, “so maybe that was the way I expressed my affection.”

But he acknowledges that, like other fathers, he’s often so busy earning a living that “we lose touch with our children.”

His advice to younger fathers: “Work less and invest more in your family. Try to speak more to your children.”

Rajagopal, 76, is a father of one daughter.

                                                                  Rajagopal, 76, is a father of one daughter.

Rajagopal

Rajagopal, 76, raised his daughter as a single dad after his wife’s death at a young age.

“I had to make sure I let her know that she was loved,” he says. “Expressing love is usually easier for the mother.”

When it comes to boys versus girls, Rajagopal says that it’s part of the “culture” to favor sons.

“If I had a son I would give my house and land to him, not my daughter,” he says.

Regardless of the child’s gender, he says, discipline is key.

“If you do this when they are young,” he says, “then you won’t need to discipline them when they grow older and get into family feuds.”

Ganesan, 62, is a father of four daughters.

                                                              Ganesan, 62, is a father of four daughters.

Ganesan

The 62-year-old former mill worker has four daughters, all of whom are married.

“I did my best to help my daughters in their schoolwork and to get them married,” he says.

But he does wish he had had a son.

“You have to see it from the perspective that boys will be the ones to lift you up when you need help,” he says. “With the girl, you have to pay dowry to get her married and then she belongs to her husband and in-laws. This is embedded within our culture.”

It wasn’t easy being a dad, he says.

“I struggled a bit to share my feelings, and things got even worse after my daughters got married,” he admits. “I could not even talk to them, and they treated me terribly — maybe that is because of the lack of communication and affection I showed them as a father.”

Now, Ganesan spends a lot of time with his grandchildren. The most important thing a father can do, he says, is “show our children that we are capable of love, just like their mothers.”

Credits: Wilbur Sargunaraj for National Public Radio (www.npr.org)

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Girls may inherit ovarian cancer gene from fathers

The researchers collected information about pairs of granddaughters and grandmothers and sequenced portions of the X-chromosome from 186 women affected by cancer

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A mutation on the X-chromosome may also advance ovarian cancer's age of onset by more than six years. Wikimedia Commons
A mutation on the X-chromosome may also advance ovarian cancer's age of onset by more than six years. Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have found a gene responsible for ovarian cancer that can be passed down from fathers to their daughters.

The study found that genes on the X-chromosome get potentially passed down through the father to his daughter, thus increasing the risk of ovarian cancer in girls.

A mutation on the X-chromosome may also advance ovarian cancer’s age of onset by more than six years.

“Our study may explain why we find families with multiple affected daughters: because a dad’s chromosomes determine the sex of his children, all of his daughters have to carry the same X-chromosome genes,” said Kevin H.

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Eng, Assistant Professor at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Buffalo, the US.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, stated that the genetic mutation inherited from the paternal grandmothers were also associated with higher rates of prostate cancer in fathers and sons as well.

The study found that genes on the X-chromosome get potentially passed down through the father to his daughter, thus increasing the risk of ovarian cancer in girls. Wikimedia Commons
The study found that genes on the X-chromosome get potentially passed down through the father to his daughter, thus increasing the risk of ovarian cancer in girls. Wikimedia Commons

The researchers collected information about pairs of granddaughters and grandmothers and sequenced portions of the X-chromosome from 186 women affected by cancer.

The results proposed that a gene on the X-chromosome may contribute to a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, independently of other known susceptibility genes, such as the BRCA genes.

This observation suggests that there may be many cases of seemingly sporadic ovarian cancer that are actually inherited, and may lead to improved cancer screening and better genetic risk assessment.

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However, future studies will be needed to confirm the identity and function of this gene.

“What we have to do next is make sure we have the right gene by sequencing more families. This finding has sparked a lot of discussion within our group about how to find these X-linked families,” Eng said.

“It’s an all-or-none kind of pattern: A family with three daughters who all have ovarian cancer is more likely to be driven by inherited X mutations than by BRCA mutations,” Eng noted. (IANS)