Posted on Feb 20, 2020, 4 p.m.
“What is history, but a fable agreed upon?” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
In the Da Vinci Code, we are told that “history is always written by the winners”, implying that our history books may contain more editing and revisions than we would like to imagine.
One history many of us would like to rewrite, given the chance, is our Family Health History. When your doctor asks questions about diseases or conditions that run in your family, he or she is not just being polite and making small talk, but rather gathering information that could be very important to your present or future health. When it comes to health, history tends to repeat itself.
As we unravel the genetic code and learn more about the role of genetics and how your body is programmed to function and malfunction, it becomes clear that this is an area that needs to be explored as part of almost every medical encounter. Predisposition to many diseases is passed on, sometimes to every generation, and sometimes it will skip generations.
It is not only important for your doctor to climb your family tree with you, but you too should ask your relatives about your family’s health issues as far back as anyone can remember. You may uncover things that are critical to you and give you the head start you need in preventing lightning from striking twice in the same family.
Gathering health information can sometimes be a challenge. Some families are notoriously secretive about matters of health (often cultural), and in cases of adoption or broken non-communicating families, getting health information can be as difficult as cracking the Da Vinci code itself.
We all know that diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers run in families, but we are learning that so many more conditions can be part of your genetic makeup. Believe it or not, conditions like arthritis, back pain and even the predisposition to certain knee ligament injuries can now sometimes be blamed on your parents! – or their parents. Also there are more and more genetic tests available that can be performed to assess your risk of developing a variety of conditions. This is something you can explore with your physician.
The future of medical technology and breakthrough treatments actually include genetic manipulation or gene therapy to prevent or cure many common conditions. Designer Genes to the rescue.
So, my best advice, other than to choose your parents wisely, is to learn as much about your family health history as possible, and then research and practice all the preventive measures that are appropriate for you.
Learn from the past to assure a healthy future. Family matters in more ways than one.
Article courtesy of Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, Vice President of the A4M, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, best selling author, keynote speaker, and one of our medical editors who is dedicated to keeping you healthy in body, mind and spirit.