“96 percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Yet, the same survey found that only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history.” – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
For many families, Thanksgiving is an opportunity for conversation. Beyond arguing about politics (not that you do that, of course!), getting together around the dinner table can be a perfect time to talk about your family’s health history. In fact, the surgeon general declares Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day for this very reason.
Family history is one of the main ways of knowing your health risks.
Both common (like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes) and rare diseases (like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia) run in families. When your doctor knows about the illnesses your parents and grandparents (and other blood relatives) have had, your health risks can become more predictable. For example, if a close relative was diagnosed with breast cancer or colon cancer, your doctor might change the age at which you should start screening.
Armed with information about your family’s health history, you and your doctor can take proactive steps to keep you healthy.
Do you have questions about family health history and preventive care? Talk to your primary care provider to learn more.