Sharing family medical history can someday save lives

To the editor:

During my journey through a diagnosis of advanced, aggressive prostate cancer I have been trying to let folks know the importance of passing on our family’s medical history.

David Young, editor of this esteemed publication, has joined me in this effort; a cancer survivor and all-around good guy, he knows first hand how important this issue is to generations yet to be born.


Many conditions have genetic components, to include but by no limited to:

·         Diabetes

·         Dementia

·         Certain types of cancer (breast and prostate among them)

·         High cholesterol

·         Obesity

·         Asthma

·         Heart disease

·         Blood clots

·         Arthritis

·         Depression (a medical condition we are just beginning to understand)

·         High blood pressure

The United States Surgeon General has developed a tool to help us develop a family history; it can be found at: familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html#.

 “Using the My Family Health Portrait, you can:

  • Enter your family health history.
  • Learn about your risk for conditions that can run in families.
  • Print your family health history to share with family or your health care provider.
  • Save your family health history so you can update it over time.

Talking with your health care provider about your family health history can help you stay healthy!”

With the holidays approaching, a great Christmas gift for children and grandchildren would be a family health history. They may not understand it this year, but they will remember you after you are gone as a person who truly loved them and and provided vital medical information.

Good folks may not want to use a government site to record a family health history, that’s fine; use it as a template or make up your own, but please develop a family health history and pass it on.

Robert M. Traxler, Dorr


  • Thank you for this excellent piece. Those of us that were adopted lack such family medical histories. My dad had heart disease, but, of course, we were not genetically related. This was on my mind some when my wife and I decided that we would like to start a family. Provision of this important information could be very helpful to loved ones. Using the tool that Mr. Traxler steers us to : familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html allows for an easy way to put the information in an accessible organized document. But, if I may be so bold, how about a family medical history and a toy?

    • Mr. Basura
      A toy or three.
      Most of us will move around the nation and lose track of our extended family. Good idea to have a history we can take to our Doctors as well as for the next few generations.
      Thank you kindly for the comment.

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