Being aware is not sufficient – learn your family’s health history
Have your relatives had breast cancer? Does diabetes run in your family? Are you aware of any records of mental illness in your family? Getting to know one’s family’s health history is important; not only in being aware of the medical history of their relatives, but also in the provided ability to prevent and effectively act on a disease impacting your life.
The family health history is a record about one’s personal health as well as their family’s. This encompasses a broad list medical records. The family members listed include, the parents, siblings, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as nieces and nephews. It is of upmost significance to understand that one might develop a disease that can be traced three generations prior thus, learning constitutes an essential component in raising awareness. The record not only regards issues such as cancer, diabetes or obesity, but also mental illnesses.
Ideally, an individual should gather information about whether their relatives are currently experiencing or have experienced a certain condition, including their age of diagnosis. After having gathered the family health history, the acquired information should be discussed with a relevant specialist that will determine the required next steps. It is essential for everyone to gather as much information as possible.
Initiating conversations regarding the topic should be done in an open manner, because the underlying purpose is protection and prevention; no share of fear shall be felt at any point. Nevertheless, it is understandable that the presence of such emotions may be inevitable when facing such sensitive circumstances. However, one should remember that their health is positioned at the centre of their life, with every part of their activities depending on maintaining a healthy state of their body and mind.
As Cancer Research UK proposes, the stronger a person’s family history is in relation to experiencing the same types of cancer, the more likely they are to develop it. Additionally, “both the risk of heart disease and risk factors for heart disease are strongly linked to family history,” said William Kraus, M.D., a preventive cardiologist and research scientist at Duke University. He added: “If you have [history of] a stroke in your family, you are more likely to have one.”
As depicted in a research study conducted by Altshuler, Kupka and McElroy, a family’s mental health history is associated with the development of psychiatric illnesses in offsprings. As demonstrated in the study, the risk of developing drug abuse in offsprings increased to 25% when two generations were positive and at devastating 75% when three generations were positive for drug abuse.
The following table shows the risk of developing schizophrenia or bipolarism among family members.
|If one biological parent has the condition||6 in 100||10 in 100|
|If both biological parents have the condition||45 in 100||40 in 100|
|If a sibling has the condition||9 in 100||13 in 100|
|If an identical twin has the condition||40-50 in 100||40-70 in 100|
|If a non-identical twin has the condition||17 in 100||20 in 100|
|If a second degree relative has the condition||3 in 100||5 in 100|
The purpose of the table along with the presented statistics is to demonstrate this; family history is one very vital factor in the development of mental health issues. Thus, given the fact that technology has developed considerably in the last few years, it has aided individuals in taking preventative measures in regards to their health.
Family history shall be noted as one of the leading factors capable of establishing whether an individual is predisposed to a particular disease. However, do not ignore that environmental factors also have a significant effect and therefore, call for examination. Nevertheless, knowing one’s family history not only brings an individual closer to their family’s experiences but also aids in familiarising themselves with their own medical history. This is of vital importance as it can act as a preventive mechanism in the matter of disease, as well as raising awareness on a particular health issue.