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Acting Surgeon General Encourages Americans to Know Their Health History During Fourth Annual Family History Day
Date:11/20/2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- How familiar are you with the health of your family tree? While the relatives are gathered for the food and festivity of the Thanksgiving holiday, taking a good look at the family health history is also time well spent.

That's why Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., has declared Thanksgiving 2007 the fourth annual National Family History Day. He encourages everyone to use the occasion to discuss and identify health problems that seem to run in the family.

"Having a conversation about your family health history may help ensure a longer, healthier future together," Dr. Galson said. "By sharing information, loved ones can help each other learn about diseases for which they may be at risk, and take steps which may reduce their vulnerability to them."

Results of these important holiday conversations should be put down in writing.

"Creating a health record will make it easier for every family member to preserve his or her health," the Acting Surgeon General said.

The U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative was created to encourage all American families to learn more about family health history.

Surveys indicate more than 90 percent of Americans believe that knowing their family health history is important. But they also show that only about one third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history.

A careful family health history may provide insight into the risk of inheriting specific diseases, shared environmental factors, and individual health concerns.

People can't change their genes, but knowing a family's health history can help people take action to reduce higher disease risks that could be related to genes. For instance, they might seek health advice and have preventive screening earlier for the diseases identified such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

A health history also can enc
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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