That’s the reasoning behind National Family History Day, which falls on Thanksgiving every year — the day when families gather to give thanks for many things, including their health and the health of their loved ones.
“Health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases ― heart disease, cancer, and diabetes ― and rare diseases ― like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia ― can run in families,” says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy.”
The surgeon general created My Family Health Portrait, a secure online tool for people to record their family’s medical history. It takes just 20 minutes to complete, and includes a disease risk calculator and a family tree diagram. Once finished, you will be able to save the portrait to your computer, update information, and share with family members.