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Thanksgiving is National Family History Day

November 23, 2010

ThanksgivingDr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, is urging people to share their family health history during Thanksgiving and other holiday family gatherings to help ensure a longer, healthier future together.

Since 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General has declared every Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day, a day for Americans to share a meal and their family health history.

“As you gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving or other upcoming holidays, talk with them about health problems that seem to run in the family,” said Dr. Arnold.

“Sharing health information can help you learn about diseases that are inherited, how your lifestyle may affect your risk for these diseases and what you can do now that could possibly prevent developing the same condition in the future.”

Common diseases that can be inherited include heart disease, stroke, some cancers, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Topics you can ask your closest family members about (those related by blood) include:

• Birth defects and childhood health problems
• Any common adult diseases (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis)
• Age at death
• Cause of death

The surgeon general’s “My Family Health Portrait,” is a Web-based tool that helps users organize family health history information and print it out for their doctor, or save it on their own computer to share with other family members.

The tool can be found at https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/fhh-web/home.action or on the Illinois Department of Public Health Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/HealthWellness/genetics.htm.

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