Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to catch up with family members, especially those you have not seen in a while. It is also the perfect opportunity to discuss your family health history. Thanksgiving is Family Health History Day. Knowing about your family health history can help you make better health decisions.
Even if your immediate family does not have a chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, you should know if other people in your family have had these or other illnesses.  For instance, did your grandmom have breast cancer? Did you great uncle have heart disease?  Having a family health history of a disease does not mean you will automatically get that disease, but it will make you more aware of it.
Collect family health history by discussing conditions that may run in the family. At what age were they diagnosed? Who in your family has been affected? In addition, record your family health history information. My Family Health Portrait is a website developed by The National Humane Genome Research Institute and The U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative. This tool can help organize your family's health information. You can also share your family health portrait with your doctor and family members.
Talk to your doctor about diseases common in your family. Sharing what you know will help your doctor decide which screening test you may need to begin. It all starts with a conversation. Keep you and your loved ones healthy by making the right decisions to detect genetic conditions early.

Whether you know a lot about your family health history or only a little, take time to talk to your family about their health histories this holiday season. It might not be easy. Your family members might not be used to talking about their diseases or might not want to talk. But starting the conversation is important. Remember, you’re asking not just for your own health, but for the health of everyone in your family.

Here are some tips on how to collect your family health history from the CDC.

  • 1

    Talk To Your Family

    Write down the names of your close relatives from both sides of the family: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Talk to these family members about what conditions they have or had, and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed. You might think you know about all of the conditions in your parents or siblings, but you might find out more information if you ask.

  • 2

    Ask Questions

    Ask questions. To find out about your risk for chronic diseases, ask your relatives about which of these diseases they have had and when they were diagnosed. Questions can include:

    • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
    • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
    • How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your relative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
    • What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
    • What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?
  • 3

    Record The Information

    My Family Health Portrait, a free web-based tool, is helpful in organizing the information in your family health history. My Family Health Portrait allows you to share this information easily with your doctor and other family members.

  • 4

    Share Health Histroy

    Share your health history with your doctor and other family members. If you are concerned about diseases that are common in your family, talk with your doctor at your next visit. Even if you don’t know all of your family health history information, share what you do know. Family health history information  can help your doctor decide which screening tests you need and when those tests should star

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