Why is it important?

Family health history is important for a variety of reasons. Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles and habits. A family health history helps identify people at an increased risk for disease because it reflects both a person’s genes and other shared risk factors.

Family health history refers to health information about you and your close relatives.It is one of the most important tools in determining risk factors for health problems like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease.The key features of a family health history that may increase risk are:

•Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10-20 years before most people get the disease)
•Disease in more than one close relative
•Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male relative)
•Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer or heart disease and diabetes)

If your family has one or more of these features, your family history may hold important clues about your risk for disease. More information on the importance of family health history can be found at this link.

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