How Genealogy Can Affect Your Health
Knowing your medical history could be the key to a long and healthy life.
Knowing the diseases in your family can keep you and your loved ones healthy.
Knowing the diseases in the family helps a doctor determine if you need special monitoring or testing. If a close relative suffered from coronary heart disease, cancer, such as breast, colon or prostate cancer, it can double the risk for you.
Experts say the creation of a map of the health of the family, or “descent” allows them to take the lead in reducing the risk to your health. With a health family history doctors can identify, treated, cure or prevent problems early.
Find the health history of your family may seem daunting, but actually it is easy (if you know who your biological parents).
Start with three generations
The three nearest generations have the greatest influence in the health risk. The three generations that include your siblings, your parents, uncles and aunts, cousins and grandparents. This is probably all you need to find a disorder or disease in particular.
Write down your health history
Note all diseases, Major and Minor, and surgeries you have had. Do not forget to include your age and the dates of those events. Next, add the lifestyle. Do you smoke? Are you overweight? Do you exercise? -you Eat enough meat, fruit and vegetables each day?
“You are looking at not only the genetic component, but lifestyle and environment,” says Suzanne O’Neill, Deputy Director of Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University.
Lifestyle and environmental factors (such as exposure to pesticides in the workplace, the air pollution where you and the family members live) affect health and should be highlighted.
Talk to your parents
Some people do not like to talk about health history, there may have been a death or some cancers but find out what you can.
If your parents are dead, ask your uncles and aunts. Most families have a storyteller within them.
Otherwise, refer to the certified copy of the death certificate of your parents (provided by the funeral home) or medical certificate of death (completed by the nurse or the doctor who certified the death) If you do not have these documents, as a close relative, you can order a copy from the authorities.
With a copy of the death certificate of your parents, you can order death certificates for your grandparents as well.
Once in possession of this wealth of information, see if some diseases coming back from generation to generation, or if there are evils that affect only one parent. To find out what this information for you, bring a copy to your doctor.
Depending on your results the doctor will determine if you are at risk for certain diseases. Genetic testing is often recommended when the following conditions occur:
• The close family members were diagnosed early (before age 50) of a hereditary disease.
• A single health problem is present in more than one close relative, for example, your grandmother and sister were both suffering from cervical cancer.
• A rare disease in either sex appeared as breast cancer in humans.
• Combinations appear, such as breast and ovarian cancer or heart disease and diabetes.
Genetic testing is practically painless . A blood sample or a cheek swab ( a cotton swab rubbed inside of the cheek ) will be conducted in a laboratory where a technician will examine the chromosomes, DNA or proteins , in search of potential diseases .
When your results are complete, the genetic counselor has the risk picture for you. It will tell you if everything is ok or you may be asked to pass additional.
The medical history of your family gives new meaning to genealogy and life that it will save could be your own.