Pop-pop! It’s so good to see you. How are you?
Man’s voice: Good, good.
How are those knees holding up? And the old ticker?
Man: Fine. Can’t complain.
What medications are you taking now, Pop? Have you ever been diagnosed with high-blood pressure? Kidney disease? What about asthma? Any trouble breathing? Now, can you read the letters on the third line?
Man: E, Uh, M. P?
Taking grandpa’s medical history might not seem like the best way to spread warm holiday wishes. But geneticists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham [Lynn Holt et al.] note that family gatherings are a great time to learn more about your family’s health issues.
Lots of disorders—like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer—have strong roots in your genes. So it’s good to know whether grandma has glaucoma or your mom had a brother who died young of a massive coronary. That way your docs can screen you for diseases to which you might be susceptible. Or maybe the info will inspire you to start taking better care of yourself.
Either way, offer the relatives a cup of holiday cheer. And feel free to note how much they drank. For your records.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
For info on taking medical histories, go to the National Society of Genetic Counselors’s Family History Tool