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How much do you know about your family?

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As we enter November and our focus shifts from Jack O Lanterns to turkey dinners we start to plan for our family gatherings. While this is a wonderful time to catch up on all the comings and goings of the people you love, it can also be the perfect time to learn a little more about your family health history.

In 2004 the surgeon general, in collaboration with the US Dept of Health and Human Services, launched the Family History Initiative. The thought behind this being that many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancers tend to run in families. Knowing what is hiding in your family tree can help your provider work with you on a plan for prevention or early detection.

I know most people do not want to think about illness, especially on the holidays, but this is one conversation worth having. Having your whole family there to fill in the missing pieces will be invaluable. (There will inevitably be a disagreement at some point, and maybe arguing…so have pie. Everybody is happy when there is pie.)

Make sure you bring the new-found knowledge of your family genes to your health care provider. (And if you feel your current provider wouldn’t have the time to sit with you, this would be a wonderful time to start direct primary care!) Take charge of your health…. as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Brooke NP

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