Most people are aware that the risk of various diseases can be reduced by getting sufficient exercise, eating a diet that is healthy, and refraining from smoking. But fewer people are aware that one’s family history might be among the strongest of influences on the risk of one’s developing stroke, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. While changing one’s genetic makeup is impossible, awareness of the family history can assist in the reduction of risk of the development of health problems.
Members of families share not only genes, but also lifestyles, environment, and often habits as well. Everyone recognizes shared traits as curly or straight hair, athletic ability or lack, vision, or dimples that run within families. Other traits that run in families are the risks for diseases such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Everyone has a different family history of disease.
The key facets of a family medical history that can increase risk are more than one close relative having the disease, a disease that generally does not affect a particular gender, diseases occurring at a younger age than they generally strike, and particular combinations of diseases inside a family, such as diabetes and heart disease. Anyone’s family that has a single of these features or more might find important clues about disease risk inside the family history…
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