Getty Images stock
A man gets his teeth cleaned at the dentist.
updated 11/29/2012 2:19:29 PM ET 2012-11-29T19:19:29

Hate going to the dentist? Blame your dad. You’re more likely to fear the dentist if he freaks your father out, according to researchers at the University of Madrid.

They found that kids with dads who didn’t like the dentist were twice as likely to be fearful themselves compared to kids with moms who disliked the dentist. That’s not the only thing mom and dad passed on.

Here are four things your parents are secretly responsible for.

Penis Problems
According to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, penis size is up to 70 percent heritable—in rams at least. While nobody has studied the pass-down percentage in human men, researchers have studied premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction in identical and non-identical twins. The results? 30 and 42 percent of your risk for premature ejaculation and problems with maintaining your erection are caused by genetics, respectively. Go ahead, blame the big guy for your little man’s problems.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Athletic Ability
It’s not your fault you’re not Olympic material. Your VO2 max—aka: your aerobic potential—is up to 83 percent heritable, according to a study published in the journal Physiological and Endocrinological Aspects in Pediatric Exercise Science. The good news: Your muscle strength is only 50 percent heritable. Even if dad isn’t built, you can still get ripped.

Who You Vote For
Like father like son—at least when it comes to voting. Researchers at the University of California have shown that partisanship is up to 50 percent heritable. They believe the 7R variant of the dopamine receptor gene D4—which only some people have—is responsible. People who carry this gene and have a diverse friend group are likely to be up to four times as liberal (as measured on a four-point scale) than people without the gene.

Mental Health
According to researchers at Stanford University, depression is caused by both environmental and genetic factors—split roughly 50-50. Researchers believe multiple genes that mom and dad pass down are responsible for depression. If you have two short copies of a gene called 5-HTT—a result of both parents having short copies—your body can’t produce all of the proteins required to regulate serotonin levels—a neurotransmitter involved with mood. (A mental health screening is one of the top medical exams every man should look into.

More from Men’s Health:

More from health:

© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.


Discussion comments