The health information about your family and your close relatives is an important record you should have. This health information is your family’s medical history. You should know the health information of at least three generations of your relatives. The health information of your parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, nephews, nieces, and cousins should be included in your family’s medical history.
The question before us now is, “Why is it important to know your family’s medical history?”.
Some Diseases Can be Prevented
Angelina Jolie not only had a double mastectomy, but she also had both her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. “Why?” you might ask. She was simply taking steps to avoid cancer. According to a blood test, she was at risk of developing cancer.
However, a more significant reason for her actions was her family’s medical history. Jolie’s family history included the knowledge that her mother, grandmother, and aunt died of cancer. Her mother’s ovarian cancer was discovered at the early age of 49. That fact alone increased Jolie’s cancer risk significantly.
You can Discover Whether Early Detection Screening or More Frequent Screening is Needed for You
If you know which diseases are dominant in your family, you will know if you should have early screening tests including colorectal cancer screening and mammograms. Most diseases when detected early are more treatable. Risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also be found with early screening. The important thing is you can detect a disease before it threatens your life.
Cancer Can be Attributed to Genes
A study published in The Journal of The American Medical Association reported that some types of cancer including breast, uterus, ovary, melanoma, and prostrate carry a familial risk. Therefore, if one of your relatives develops one of these cancers before the age of 50, it is essential that you tell your doctor. This is because the risk of your developing the same cancer is increased by the relative having the disease at an early age.
Some Diseases are 100 Percent Genetic
According to Dr. Douglas Brutlag at Stanford Medicine, diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, and Tay-Sachs are 100 percent genetic. Knowing that these diseases are prevalent in your family will help you to be aware of the symptoms of them.
You can Avoid Unhealthy Behaviors
You can’t change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors. Some disorders are genetic, but they can be ignited. For instance, Dr. Brutag suggests rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes are complex diseases that have a genetic predisposition. However, a healthier lifestyle can reduce your risk. In other words, you can behaviorally prevent the repercussions of these diseases.
Knowing Your Family’s Medical History May Help Your Children
Not only should you know your family’s medical history, but you should also make sure it is documented. In that way, you can pass the knowledge on to your children. They may need your family’s medical history at some time in their future.
Remember, a relative having a certain disease or condition doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop the disease or condition. Likewise, no one in your family developing a disease or condition doesn’t mean you won’t.
It’s also a good idea for you to share your family’s medical history with your healthcare professional.