By Genevieve Lopez, Head of Digital Engagement at LunaPBC
As we prepare for the fast-approaching holiday that unites families together nationwide over food, drinks, and much-awaited family connection, take advantage of the valuable opportunities while surrounded by your closest relatives – loved-ones that could be helpful in predicting and providing you identifiers of your future health. Every family has their own unique traditions and understanding family health history should be something to add to the Thanksgiving itinerary.
Why Health History Is Important
There’s a reason why your primary care physician asks about your family history every year. It’s important. Your family members’ health — including that of your children, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews — can reveal a wealth of information that may directly impact you. A pattern with
Although identifying these patterns do not predict your pre-disposition in developing the same condition, understanding your potential risks can prepare you to take the necessary steps to reduce its development later in life. For instance, if your grandmother passed away from breast cancer and your aunt is a breast cancer survivor, there’s a higher chance that you may have inherited BRCA-1 or BRCA-2, breast cancer genes. Additionally, family health history goes beyond hereditary genetic lineage. It also encompasses eating habits, daily activities, and environmental factors that impact health and well-being. Having this information equips you with important insight to share with your primary care physician, enables you to undergo appropriate tests and interventions, and empowers you to proactively take charge of your well-being. Especially in the case of health history, education is truly life-changing.
How to Initiate the Conversation
So how does one become fully informed about their family health history? Initiate conversation, especially when the opportunity arises. The information you already have about your family’s health conditions may have been derived from events that dramatically impacted your life, like the passing of a grandparent or the diagnosis of a sibling. But what about the underlying symptoms that aren’t typically discussed or identified, like a family member’s chronic pain or dramatic weight loss. Identifying patterns in symptoms like these across generations can help forecast greater health challenges that need immediate professional attention.
Family Health History Checklist
In between turkey dinner and pumpkin pie dessert, mark-off the following checklist to ensure you’re learning as much as possible about your family health history and ultimately, yours.
Considering how much your health impacts others, sharing your personal experiences and hearing others may save a life. Here are a few questions to consider asking your relatives:
- How has your health and wellness been this year?
- Are you experiencing any conditions or diseases you’re comfortable sharing?
- Who in the family has also experienced similar symptoms, conditions, or diseases?
- What are your eating habits, activity habits, etc.?
- What are some things you do on a regular basis to stay healthy?
It’s important to know your family health history and especially important to ensure you don’t forget it. Record what you learned during these conversations and store in a secure location. This can be anything from a simple word document to a detailed health family tree. The more details you can provide about your family health history, the better you can identify patterns regarding health symptoms, conditions, or diseases you may be affected by.
During your next doctor’s visit, share the information you learned during the holidays and update your family health history paperwork or database. Based on the information you collected, you and your doctor can create a healthy plan for you to roll into the new year with health, wellness, and quality of life top of mind.
Additionally, take a health survey on LunaDNA’s secure and private platform and earn ownership shares for sharing your family health history data to research. There’s nothing more rewarding than closing out the year sharing value to benefit the greater good of humanity and joining a health movement that powers medical breakthroughs.
Luna is bringing together individuals, communities, and researchers to better understand life. Directly drive health discovery by joining the Tell Us About You study. The more we come together to contribute health data for the greater good, the quicker and more efficient research will scale, and improve the quality of life for us all.