Press Release
November 21, 2012
Melaney Arnold (217) 558-0500

Talk Turkey to Take Charge of Your Health

Thanksgiving is National Family History Day

SPRINGFIELD – While gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday, whether at the table eating turkey, or later enjoying pumpkin pie, talk with your parents, siblings, grandparents and kids about some of the health issues that may run in your family. Each year since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day, a day to learn what health risk you may face or are facing, so you can take action to control them.
"Common diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as rare diseases like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, can run in families. If one generation of a family has high blood pressure, it is not unusual for the next generation to have high blood pressure," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. "Tracing your parents, grandparents and other blood relatives' illnesses can help your doctor predict disorders you may face so you can take steps to stay healthy."
The most important relatives to talk with are your parents, brothers and sisters, and your children. Next should be grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. It is also helpful to talk with great uncles and great aunts, as well as cousins.
Questions you can ask include:
ü Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?
ü Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
ü How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
ü Have you or your partner had any difficulties with pregnancies, such as miscarriages?
ü What medications are you currently taking?
The surgeon general’s “My Family Health Portrait,” is a web-based tool that helps you organize family health history information and print it out for your doctor, or save it on your own computer to share with other family members. The tool can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at or at

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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