Your family history holds key information about your past and clues to your future health. Many of your physical traits, such as eye color, hair color, and height are inherited. So, too, are risks for certain genetic conditions and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. You may have noticed that some of your relatives are healthier and live longer than other relatives. You may also have noticed that some relatives have the same health problems. By collecting your family’s health history, you can learn what health problems you may be at increased risk for in the future and how to reduce your risks. For instance, people at increased risk for heart disease may be able to reduce their risk through not smoking, regular exercise and diet. Learning your family history can benefit both you and your relatives… and it can be fun too!
Other Useful Resources
U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative: This site provides tips on how to gather family health information. The Department of Health and Human Services also developed some disease-specific health risk information fact sheets for: heart disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and Tay-Sachs disease.