Assess Your Risk
Know Your Personal and Family History
Your Family History – Your Look into the Future
Your personal and family history holds key information about your past and clues to your future health. Many of your physical traits, such as eye color, hair color, and height are inherited. So, too, are risks for certain genetic conditions and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. You may have noticed that some of your relatives are healthier and live longer than other relatives. You may also have noticed that some relatives have the same health problems. By collecting your family's health history, you can learn what health problems you may be at increased risk for in the future and how to reduce your risks. For instance, people at increased risk for heart disease may be able to reduce their risk through not smoking, regular exercise and diet. Learning your family history can benefit both you and your relatives… and it can be fun too!
To help focus attention on the importance of family health history, U.S. Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., in cooperation with other agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has launched a national public health campaign called the U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history.
The American Medical Society has created a valuable tool to help you collect and save your personal and family history. Learn more.