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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2014
Contact: HHS Press Office
202-205-0143

Create your family health portrait on Thanksgiving: National Family Health History Day

Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. today declared this Thanksgiving day, November 27,  as the eleventh annual Family Health History Day. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, Americans are encouraged to talk about and keep a record of the health problems that seem to run in their families.

Ninety-six percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Yet, only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history. The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait tool is a free resource that helps people collect and privately share their family history information through a secured system.

“We are taking an important step in helping Americans identify opportunities for preventing serious disease and conditions,” said Lushniak. He added, “This year, I am pleased to announce updates to the technology behind the My Family Health Portrait tool that will make it easier for people to record  their family health history information and to share it with their health care providers.”

This year, the My Family Health Portrait tool has three new features to offer:

  • Optional modules that help determine if an individual is at increased or average risk for colorectal cancer and diabetes in an easy format to share with health care professionals.
  • Mobile-friendly access so users can manage their family health history information wherever they are and whenever they want on their mobile devices such as tablets.
  • More ways for users to save and manage their family history information to personal digital storage sites that use secured information transfer methods.

By collecting health information from relatives, individuals and families are taking the first step towards preventing diseases or health conditions. Family history cannot be changed -- but sharing the history with health care providers can help to identify strategies to reduce risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease in the future. Making healthy choices is important for everyone, but it is especially important for those at higher risk because of a family history of disease.

More information on the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait is available at the Surgeon General’s My Family Health History Initiative webpage.

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Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: November 24, 2014

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