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Know Your Genetic Risk

Your family's health history holds critical clues.

Putting the Family Health History to Use

After you've created your family health history, you can give this information to your doctor. Mitchell recommends consulting a doctor promptly, in fact, if your medical history reveals two first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) with the same cancer or one first-degree relative under the age of 50 with an illness usually associated with older people, such as cancer or heart disease.

You can also, of course, share the information with other family members. And if you continue to update and expand your family tree with new information as it comes along, it could become a living document, invaluable for future generations.

Claudia Willen writes about environmental issues and is the author of several books on computer programming. She is based in San Francisco.

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