Whether you plan to gather again virtually or celebrate Thanksgiving in person this year, the holiday offers a chance not just to bond with family but also to do something proactive about your health.
And it’s all as simple as asking a few questions of those you love.
The third Thursday in November marks Thanksgiving in the United States, but it’s also National Family Health History Day, a time to take stock of conditions that run in your family.
Knowing your family’s health history may be invaluable for you and your family. The history you share with your family includes not just stories that connect you to your past but information that you can use now and in the future.
Many of us don’t know what health issues our grandparents or great aunts and uncles dealt with in their lives, but understanding that may help you and future generations. That’s because preventing illness is often about knowing your risks, including risks for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. And a family health history is often a cornerstone of one’s medical record, offering you and your healthcare provider information you can use.
A family health history is simply a record of diseases and health conditions that your biological relatives have had over generations. Along with a shared history, you also share DNA with your biological relatives, and that shared genetics influences your health. Knowing that shared history raises awareness of what to look out for in the future. In addition, it gives you and your healthcare provider another layer of information to help keep you well.
There are several tools you can use to track this information as well. The Centers for Disease Control offers something called the Family Health Portrait to help you document and then save this information. For instance. 23andMe’s Family Health History Tree for Health + Ancestry Service customers also records and preserves that history.
Much like any family tree, this one offers a visual representation of how you connect to different relatives. But this tree adds the ability to include medical conditions, offering you a visual record of current and past health issues for you and your close relatives. 23andMe’s Family Health History Tree gives you a place to record information you and your healthcare provider can use to help you manage your health.