What do you talk about around the Thanksgiving dinner table? This story from November 2013 is every bit as relevant today. Then Surgeon General, Boris Lushniak, reminded us that it’s a good time to talk about your family’s history of diseases and any other information that can help you keep your loved ones healthy, as the holiday has been declared National Family History Day.
“The message that we’re trying to get out first and foremost is understanding your own family history is important to your own health. It ties into who you are and what you are at risk for.”
The office of the surgeon general provides a website called “My Family Health Portrait,” which can be used to find and share information with loved ones.
Kathryn Teng, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Personalized Healthcare, made this point:
“But what we really know from the medical evidence is that when it comes to predicting risk of disease, family health history is still more predictive than any genomic test that’s out there right now. And it’s inexpensive and it’s easy for people to do.”
These family conversations can be especially helpful for healthy young adults, who may not be thinking about proactive measures they can take to stay healthy in the future. If you’re having trouble beginning the conversation, start by making a list of relatives, planning questions to ask about family health concerns, and explaining why it’s important for everyone to understand their family history.