Thanksgiving 2011 has been declared as the United States' eighth annual "Family Health History Day," a part of November's Family History Month. According to U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, “An important first step in preventing illness and disability is learning about health conditions in our families that may put us at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, mental illness and many others. Discussing health information with other members of your family can often uncover conditions and explanations for health problems which you never knew about, simply because no one ever asked.”
So, if you are able to share food, laughter, and memories with family members this Thanksgiving, start the conversation about what health conditions exist in your family. If you are unable to share the holiday with family members, or are adopted and do not currently know your biological family members, use the holiday as a jumping off point to start doing some research into your health history and collecting information to put a complete family health history together. The Surgeon General's office offers a free online tool which organizes your family health information into a document for you to share with health professionals and other family members.