Understanding Your Family Tree & Potential Genetic Health Issues


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13 years ago, the general surgeon coined Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day as well. So, if you are lucky enough to spend time with family members on Thanksgiving, this is a great opportunity to take a few minutes to discuss the genetic and health side of your family tree. Taking the time to understand the history of your family’s health allows you to plan for the future and make wise decisions for your own health.

Your Future Is Genetic

Several common diseases run in the family, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as rare conditions, such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. A lot of these diseases emerge through a combination of genetics and environmental factors. While there is not a lot you can do about your genetics, you do have control of the environmental factors. For example, if your family has a history of heart disease, you should consume a diet that supports the health of your heart.

Some of the more common genetic diseases include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular Disease

Understanding your family’s health history does not mean you should live in fear that you will one day develop cancer simply because your grandparents died of cancer. It just means you should be more aware of your health. Go to the doctor, get screened, and do not wait until it is too late to get the medical care you need.

Do You Know Your Family Health History?

Statistically, a very small percentage of Americans have a strong grasp on their family’s health history. Think about the first time you and your significant other get pregnant. You go to the doctor, and the first thing the doctor wants is a family health history. This allows them to create a chart on all the potential health problems for your child. If you plan on having children one day, you should determine whether you could answer these questions. Would you be able to tell a doctor your family’s health history?

Thanksgiving Is the Perfect Day

Thanksgiving doubles as National Family Health History Day because it is the perfect day for you to take the time to learn about your family’s health history. For most people, Thanksgiving is a day when you get together with your family for a nice meal. Sure, talking about your health history isn’t always a happy topic, but it is an important one.

If your family hesitates to discuss the topic, just say you want to know the history so you have a plan for your future and the future of any potential children. You can still have a lovely Thanksgiving while deciding to talk about a few health issues that run in your family.

What to Do with Your Family History

Once you collect your family’s health history, this is something you should share with your doctor. Your doctor might want to send you to a specialist for a screening because of this information. With recent advancements in science and medication, people can live a long time with several different diseases if the doctors catch the disease early enough.

If you are someone who does not spend Thanksgiving with family members, discussing your family health history with them could be a challenge. Fortunately, there are things you can do, such as looking at death certificates of your family or checking out the obituary of a family member.

When looking at your family’s health history, did you discover heart disease runs in your family? Check out our article, “Here Are Seven Easy Ways To Keep Your Heart Healthy.”

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