Have you ever wondered why doctors ask about your family health history? First, your family health history is a combination of all health conditions experienced by members of your family – parents, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, etc. But why would their health status matter? Simply, your health will be influenced because your family shares genes, similar behaviors, and habits.
However, there is some nuance to this. Just because a family member has a chronic disease doesn’t necessarily mean you will also have these conditions. But, you may be at an increased risk of having similar health concerns. Suppose you have a family history of colorectal, breast, or ovarian cancers, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, or hereditary hemochromatosis. In that case, the CDC recommends speaking with your doctor to discuss screenings and what lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce your risks.
The more you know about your familial health, the more proactive you can be about your health to lower any risks and change unhealthy behaviors. While there may be increased risks for certain diseases, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will also be diagnosed with the same condition. The important things are to make sure you know your history, take action when concerned, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Speak with your family members and dig to get more information about any health issues. Make sure to share this information with your doctors. Even if you only have partial information, it is better than nothing.
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