The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging potentially lifesaving conversations this Thanksgiving as part of National Family History Day. In Michigan, approximately one in 10 women has a significant family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Additionally, common diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes can run in families.
“If one generation of a family has high blood pressure, it is not unusual for the next generation to have similarly high blood pressure,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Thanksgiving is a traditional time when families gather to share food, conversations and stories, providing an important opportunity to discuss one’s family health history.”
Family health history is a medical history about a person’s living and deceased relatives and should include background about a person’s ethnicity. Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors which can all be used to determine the risk of common diseases.
The MDHHS family health history fact cards can help guide the conversation or use the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait tool to organize relevant information. Also the American Cancer Society’s genetics and cancer website can help you collect the proper information to share with a physician.
Take time to learn your family’s health history and then be sure to share this information with your health care provider. Based on your family health history, your health care provider will be able to evaluate potential health risks and recommend appropriate screening or treatment.