A Seat at the Table

Entering this Holiday season seeing your families again everyone gets asked the famous questions, “How’s school?“What are your grades?” “Do you have a boyfriend?”

It’s time to re-shift our focus to a different conversation…

Let’s talk about our family health history.

It's vital to know your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control, a study conducted showed that 96 percent of Americans believed that knowing their family history is important, but only one third have actually gathered their family history.

Your family health history can be instrumental in determining which tests and screenings are best for you. Screenings are so important, because the earlier a disease is caught the earlier it can be treated.

For example: If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, start having your mammogram 10 years younger than the age that relative was diagnosed, OR at age 40, whichever is younger. So, if your mom had breast cancer when she was 44, you should start having your mammogram at age 34.

Also, knowing you history helps you determine the kind of lifestyle and behaviors you should adopt. How important is it for you to have a nutritious diet and exercise early? Taking part in those activities can delay or in some cases prevent disease.

Recording your family health history is simple. Start by writing it all down in place. Once you have gathered all of the necessary information, you can easily take it with you to doctor appointments. Be sure to keep updated information.

There are several important elements you should gather when gathering your family health history:

Gather information from three generations of biological relatives.
The age they were at diagnosis and the age and cause of death of diseased family members.

Warning signs when researching your family health history include:

A family member gets a disease earlier in life than expected. 
Several close family members have the same disease. 
The disease is usually uncommon for that gender. 
Certain combinations of disease in the family, such as breast and ovarian cancer or diabetes and heart disease.

In 2008, the death rate for African Americans was higher than Caucasians for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

In 2008, African American women were 10 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer; however, they were almost 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

Let's be proactive instead of reactive.
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