Six Family Health History Resources

What you know can save you. Family health history is information about diseases that run in your family and other factors like diet and lifestyle that may affect your family’s health.

Knowing this information can help you and your physician partner together to develop a personalized health management plan. In fact, you may be able to prevent certain diseases by knowing your family health history and making healthier choices because of it.  Ever since 2004, the Surgeon General has nominated Thanksgiving as “Family Health History Day.”

family portrait



#1: This family health history guide from Geisinger Health System.

It provides a detailed look at family health history and some guidance about what to ask! Geisinger Genomic Institute has partnered with Weis Markets to develop “The Family History Project,” which aims to help us better understand health at a population level and improve research. The website has some neat interactive tools to play around with. Take a look!

#2: These tips from The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

#3: This video that has interesting facts about family health history. Did you know that only 1/3 of patients have a documented family history?

#4: This great article featuring Breast Care for Washington’s Medical Director, Dr. Regina Hampton.

Did you know that white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer but black women are more likely to die from it? Asking about family history can guide you and your physician to make personalized screening decisions.

#5: This briefing on surveillance of high risk colon cancer patients that includes five recommendations to improve services for patients.

Families with striking colon cancer family history are recommended to be screened at younger ages and more frequently. This is proven to reduce deaths but 64% of clinicians believed that someone else should be carrying out the surveillance work.

#6: This video from a genetic counselor about family history. She lists some helpful questions at the end.

I hope these resources are helpful. While family health history goes beyond cancer family history, cancer family history is my focus. I encourage you to participate in National Family Health History Day this year on Thanksgiving and ask about all health history in your family. You might be surprised what you find out!

Check out this storify version of this post, here.


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