Magazine article USA TODAY

Determine Disease Risks with a Family Tree

Magazine article USA TODAY

Determine Disease Risks with a Family Tree

Article excerpt

Consider the odds: Ten to 15% of people with colon cancer have a family history of the disease. As many as 25% of children of alcoholics are likely to become alcoholics themselves. If someone in your family has diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at greater risk for those health problems. So, does a family history of a disease mean that you are doomed to get it yourself? Not necessarily, according to the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. Putting together a family health history and knowing you are at risk for certain diseases may, in fact, help you ward off medical problems by inspiring you to take charge of your health.

A family health history may take some time and a little research, but it is a worthwhile investment. Most hereditary illnesses--such as heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and diabetes--have a lifestyle component. Diet, exercise, stress, and other factors may contribute greatly to their development. Understanding your increased risk can help steer you away from detrimental behaviors. It can also help you become aware of whether you should be tested for certain conditions earlier or more frequently than average. …

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