Importance of Knowing Family Health History

Thursday is Thanksgiving and also Family Health History Day, which makes it the perfect time to talk with your family about any medical concerns that could be genetic.

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CLEVELAND – Thursday is Thanksgiving and Family Health History Day. 

So as you’re sitting around eating turkey with your loved ones, it could be a good time to talk about your family’s medical history. 

“When the family gathers, it’s almost natural to bring up, ‘How’s grandma? Oh, I remember you told me about uncle so-and-so who died very suddenly at a young age. What happened?’ Family histories do inform us about our future,” explained Charis Eng, MD, PhD, geneticist at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Eng said if you do find out there’s a family history of a certain cancer, for example, you may want to consider genetic counseling.

For those unfamiliar, genetic counseling is when an individual or family meets with a genetic counselor to talk about possible medical concerns.

The counselor will then determine whether genetic testing is needed.

They will also go over the results and offer additional guidance.

Dr. Eng said knowing what you’re at risk for can be extremely important when it comes to both prevention and treatment.

“Genetic counseling sort of empowers the patient and the family, so not only will they understand the genetic disorder that they came for, they will understand genetics in general,” she said.

Dr. Eng advises those interested in genetic counseling to schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor, not a primary care physician.

That way you’re getting the expertise needed to make informed decisions.

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