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Creating a family medical history

December 1, 2021

How healthy are your family members? Knowing the answer may help you prevent some chronic diseases.

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You’ve got your father’s smile, hazel eyes like your sister, and your grandmother’s curly hair. However, while your genes may confer some of your best traits, they can also bring some less-welcome inheritances — namely, a higher risk for certain health conditions.

Your odds for developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer may be higher than average if these conditions run in your family. By looking for clues in your family’s health history, you may be able to identify risks for future illness and perhaps be able to reduce them, says Dr. Jennifer Haas, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Preventive strategies started early can reduce your risk.

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