Since the holidays are approaching and many of you will be spending this precious time with your family members, I thought now would be a good time to discuss collecting your family medical history.
A family medical history is a record of health information about a you and your family. It includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins. If you have any information about great-grandparents then jot that down, too.
Families share many factors in common — genes, environment, and lifestyle which in turn may can give clues to medical issues that may run in a family. By noticing patterns of medical issues among relatives, your doctor or genetic counselor can determine whether an individual, other family members, or future generations may be at an increased risk of developing a particular condition.
A family medical history can identify people with a higher-than-usual chance of having common disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, hereditary cancers, and diabetes. These complex disorders are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and lifestyle choices. Acquiring this information helps you to take steps to reduce your risk. If you are at increased risk for certain cancers, especially for those related to Lynch syndrome, your healthcare professionals may recommend genetic counseling and genetic testing. If you do hold one of the five mutations for Lynch syndrome or other hereditary cancers, more frequent screenings will start at an earlier age. Please note, even if you have a strong family history of cancer, lifestyle changes such as adopting a mostly plant-based diet, regular exercise, and not smoking help many people lower their chances of developing many diseases and illnesses.
A family gathering is an optimal time to discuss these issues — most people are together with their families and there are usually multiple generations present. If you’re lacking information within your family tree, documents such as obituaries and death certificates can help you fill in the gaps. It is important to keep this information up-to-date and to share it with your other family members and healthcare professional regularly.
Even if you know you have Lynch syndrome your family medical history information may be very helpful to you, your children, your grandchildren, and to the doctors caring for you. You may also gain insight into other medical issues which may affect your family.
The National Society of Genetic Counselors has a great resource for us to help with this process; please click on the following links:
If you find these resources too difficult to use, try this other template:
In the meantime, I have been scouring the Internet for some tasty vegan recipes for the holidays and thought I would share some which I came across:
http://www.nytimes.com/projects/well/vegetarian-recipes/#home FYI: they put this out every year, the recipes are simple and amazing!
Vegan holiday recipes on Pinterest: http://goo.gl/L6GPkK.
Hope you’re all doing well — eating loads of plants, exercising and nourishing your inner child.
Happy Halloween to all of yous!
Go easy on the candy this weekend.