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Health Tip: Your Risk of Getting Disease:

Much of the odds is all in the family

(HealthDay News) -- Most of us know that we can reduce our risk of disease by eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and not smoking.

But did you know that your family history might be one of the strongest influences on your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer?

Even though you can't change your genetic makeup, knowing your family history can help you reduce your risk of developing health problems. The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:

  • Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
  • Disease in more than one close relative
  • Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
  • Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)

To learn about your family history, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest you collect information about your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, siblings, and children: major medical conditions and causes of death; age of disease onset and age at death; and ethnic background. Look at death certificates and family medical records, if possible.

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