U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona announced that Thanksgiving Day would also mark National Family History Day. Since many families gather together for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is an ideal time for family members to share information about their family's health history. Even in our age of modern medicine, family histories remain vital to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. To help families compile their health histories, the Surgeon General unveiled a free Web-based tool called "My Family Health Portrait." Families can use it to organize their health information and to produce a handout that they can share with family members or take to a doctor's office. Healthcare professionals have long recognized that many common diseases such as heart disease and cancer tend to run in families. Using My Family Health Portrait is an easy and efficient way for families and healthcare workers to use health histories to identify diseases for which a family may be at increased risk. This information can be used to design a personalized health plan for an individual that takes such predispositions into account.
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Last Reviewed: August 15, 2013