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Using Genealogies to Determine Whether You Are At Risk for a Disease

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Genealogy

Have you ever had to answer a doctors questionnaire which asks you about your familys medical history, but you had no idea of anyones health other than your parents? Did you ever wonder if you may be predisposed to a disease such as Alzheimers, breast cancer or congenital heart disease? Could you imagine a world without the death and sadness caused by these horrible conditions? You too can contribute to the future of medical research even by spending just a few hours a day researching your familys medical history. All types of doctors from around the world have recently voiced their opinion that if people simply had a better grasp on their familys medical histories, medical research would be able to take that data into account and advance a step in the right direction to cure some of the most terrible genetic diseases known to man. Unfortunately many of us are completely in the dark when it comes to our familys medical history. We do not know what diseases grandparents had, let alone generations that may be older than them. But, if you are willing to take that extra step and research your familys medical history, you can not only increase your chances of living for nearly a century, but you will help other people all over the world who may be predisposed to the same medical conditions as you are.

People who suffer from many of the most common genetic disorders may be out of luck at this time, but if more people possessed some information about their familys medical history, many doctors believe that these illnesses would quickly become a thing of the past. While we have already made major headway into treating such illnesses as familial hypercholesterolemia, there is still so much more work and research that is needed if we hope to cure the various genetic cancers and other illnesses that are passed down through our generations. If you know your familys medical history and effectively what illnesses you may be at risk of developing, you can easily make changes to your lifestyle in an attempt to avoid your impending fate. For example, if prostate cancer is in your family, you may get more prostate exams and drink a lot of cranberry juice; if you are at risk of diabetes, you may think twice the next time you pig out on a big tub of chocolate ice cream.

Searching for your familys medical history in genealogical records is a fairly easy affair provided you actually have a well drafted family tree or other record to go on. However, most people do not even have any recollection of their great grandparents, making such a task almost impossible until they do some basic genealogical research. To begin, it is recommended that you speak with your oldest living relatives to get the roots of your family tree in order. They should be able to help you learn the names of family members you never knew existed, as well as give you a glimpse into their medical history and how old they were when they passed on. From there, you can assemble your family tree based on your bloodline to see who was related to you and what genetic illnesses they may have been stricken with during their lifetimes.