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December 2, 2012

Knowing your family health history can prevent and detect disease

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Written by: Bruce Snook
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LANSING – The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the Michigan Cancer Genetics Alliance (MCGA) are encouraging Michigan residents to ask questions and get answers about their family health history. Being aware of inherited disease risks will help Michiganders take steps toward early detection and prevention.

Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed November as Family Health History Month in Michigan. Knowing about inherited or genetic risks can lead to early detection and treatment and in turn, improve the long-term chance for a healthy life. Early identification of individuals at risk for common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and various cancers, coupled with early screening and treatment can save lives.

“Biological relatives of persons with certain chronic diseases may be at significant risk for having the same condition. In such instances, family members should be screened earlier or more thoroughly,” said Dr. Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. “It’s critical that we increase awareness of family history and its impact on health so that we can save lives and keep Michigan families healthy and protected.”

Throughout the month of November, MDCH and MCGA encourage Michigan residents to actively collect their family history information, record it for the future and share it with their healthcare providers. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers an online tool called the “My Family Health Portrait” that helps users organize family history information and then print it out for presentation to their health care provider. In addition, the tool helps users save their family history information to their own computer and even share family history information with other family members. Access the “My Family Health Portrait” tool at www.familyhistory.hhs.gov.

“Collecting your family health history and sharing it with your providers can help them understand whether you are at risk for certain diseases,” said Dr. Julie Zenger Hain, MCGA Co-Chair and and Geneticist at Oakwood Healthcare. “The time is now. Collect it for your health, for your family’s health, and for your future.”

For additional information about Family Health History Month or inherited disease risk, visit www.michigan.gov/genomics, www.migrc.org, or www.hhs.gov/familyhistory.

Source:  News release from Michigan Department of Community Health






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