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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (November 21, 2006)
Contact: Kristen Dreaper, (251) 461-1509

Researching Your Family Health History

University of South Alabama Physicians Group and the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. As you gather around the dinner table this holiday season to give thanks and pass the turkey and cranberry sauce, we urge you to take the opportunity to pass along vital health information as well. Sharing your family health history will prove to be a discussion you can be thankful for in the years to come.
To help focus attention on the importance of family history, the U.S. Surgeon General in cooperation with other agencies with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a national public health campaign, called the U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative, to encourage all American families to learn more about their family health history. Because family health history is such a powerful screening tool, the Surgeon General has created a new computerized tool to help make it fun and easy for anyone to create a sophisticated portrait of their family's health.
To assess your family health “portrait,” visit The information you provide to the website creates a drawing of your family tree and a chart of your family health history. Both the chart and the drawing can be printed and shared with your family members or your healthcare professional.
“Family histories are important to primary care providers because they help to determine several details in the care of a patient,” said Dr. Errol D. Crook, USA professor and chair of the department of internal medicine. “Aggressiveness of screening for many diseases such as lipid disorders, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, can vary depending on whether relatives have been diagnosed and at what age they received a diagnosis.”
“The more research we do, the more diseases we find with true genetic links, such as breast cancer, melanoma, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer” said Dr. Adam I. Riker, Chief of surgical oncology service at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, “The family history has important implications for not only the patient, but also for siblings of the patient and sons and daughters too.”
Please take just a moment out of your hectic holiday schedule to forward this message to your family and friends. Sharing your family’s health history is more than just a casual conversation; it’s a gift of good health with immeasurable rewards.
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Date last changed: November 21, 2006 3:04 PM