Family Health: Knowing Your Family’s History

Updated on February 18, 2019

Questions about other family members come into play during health screenings, and with good reason. Science and research show that we inherit more than we bargained from, from our parent’s features down to genes that increase our risk of getting a specific disease.

While people go about life for the most part unbothered, it is helpful to become keener when you note several members of your family are suffering from the same illness. It could happen now or date back; whatever the case, don’t wait to come down with a symptom to know if you’re at risk. 

Importance of knowing your family health history

Just as with breast cancer screenings, the purpose of collecting your family history is to increase the chances of getting ahead of an illness. With this data, doctors can know what test to run to see if you have a heightened risk of contracting the disease or even if it’s in the early stages. Some common hereditary ailments include cancer, diabetes, dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s and heart diseases. 

The ideal place to begin when gathering this information is with immediate family members. That’s everyone that you’re related to by blood. Grandparents and those of their family is also another place to get to. What will come up are your parents’ siblings and any diseases they might have had. You want to ensure that you’re collecting data from people you’re related to through blood only. 

Knowing what to ask

There are thankfully handy tools that you can get online or from your doctor that can help gather accurate information about your risk. The focus will be on life-threatening illness and those without a cure. They all have to be genetic related, and not something directly caused by an external factor; a car accident lawyer Vancouver-based case file wouldn’t be appropriate to add. 

In cases where the person is deceased, you have to delicately ask about the cause of death to avoid triggering negative emotions or those of grief. Have personal conversations with the people affected and let them know why you’re asking for this information. You’re all related by blood, and I’m sure they’d be happy to receive your findings that they can take to their doctor. 

Understand the risks 

Certain ethnicities are prone to certain illnesses and not others. Understanding the connecting between the two will help you spot patterns and your doctor note symptoms of any of the diseases mentioned. In the same way, specific environments and behaviors also have a role to play. Note what type of lifestyle choices you’ve grown up with or are making that can contribute to the onset of certain illnesses. 


Ultimately, this information should wind up with your doctor. You should also keep it safe as it may act as a reference point in the future. The awareness of your family health history can potentially save your life, or even cause a shift in your lifestyle to get you on a safer path.

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