This Thanksgiving Ask About Your Family Health History

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: November 26, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Thanksgiving Day is a time when families gather together, which provides an important opportunity to ask questions about family health history. To support families having these conversations, Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) have declared Thanksgiving Day, November 27, to be National Family Health History Day in Michigan.

Family health history is medical history and information about a person’s living and deceased relatives. Discussions regarding family health history should include information about a person’s ethnicity as such information can help physicians evaluate the risks for many disorders and common, chronic, adult onset conditions such as cancer.

Family health history is important for your health care provider to better understand you and your family’s potential health risks and to recommend appropriate screening or treatment. Because family history is dynamic and risks can emerge over time, it’s important to talk to your health care provider and share your family health history at every visit.

Early identification of individuals at risk for common diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and various cancers, coupled with early intervention services and screening, may save lives and improve long-term chances of a healthy life. Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors, the combination of which can determine the risk of common diseases.

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving as National Family History Day since 2004. Be sure to discuss health history with your family this Thanksgiving – it could prove to be a healthy win-win for you and your family. For more information, visit the following websites for materials, tools and resources about how to collect your family’s health history:

Michigan family health history fact cards are available through MDCH at

The Surgeon General’s ‘My Family Health Portrait’ tool, a web-based tool available in English and Spanish at and a paper-based version is available at

For more information about genetics and cancer, visit