Know Your Roots

Maybe you inherited your dad's big nose and your grandma's flawless skin. You win some; you lose some. But the traits you inherit from your family are more than skin-deep. 

DNA from your parents, grandparents, and even further back (genes can skip generations) can determine many things about you, from physical traits to allergies to your chances of developing diseases. So if your mom had diabetes, there's a chance you could be carrying that gene, too. 

That's why knowing your family health history is so important. It can give you a good idea of diseases or health problems that run in your family and warning signs to be aware of. Having key info about your first-degree relatives – parents, siblings, and children – is the most crucial. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are next on the list. If you can go back further (great-grandparents, cousins, etc.), great! 

Here are some things you should know about both sides of your family:

  • Diseases or serious illnesses.
  • Age they developed the disease.
  • Cause of death.
  • Age at death.
  • Did they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or asthma?
  • Were they very overweight?
  • Did they smoke, drink heavily, or use drugs?
  • Did they have a mental illness?
  • Did they have a birth defect?
  • Did they have more than one miscarriage? 

Are you writing this down? Be sure to share your findings with your doctor and keep your research in a safe place. It will give you a better idea of your overall health and it could even save your life!

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