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Has anyone in your family had cancer? Have you lost a family member to heart disease? Have any family members suffered from strokes? Or muscular dystrophy? Sickle Cell Anemia? Muscular sclerosis? If you are like most people, someone in your family has died from one of the conditions listed above. Today, everyone knows how important it is to have periodic health screenings for breast cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and so on, but how many genealogists have tapped into their research to create a detailed family medical history? It's safe to say that most of us haven't, and yet -- the information is right at our fingertips!

Disclaimer: If you think or believe you may be at risk for an inherited disease, please do *not* rely on your family history research! Consult a physician and investigate the possibilities of genetic screening.

A detailed analysis of your family history may display hereditary conditions for which you may be at risk -- given this information, your physician may be able to catch a condition in the early stages. Recently I read an article on family medical health in which it was stated that one-third to one-half of all health conditions have a genetic basis, and although many of the conditions have an environmental factor, there was a significant genetic link as well. For the average researcher, a knowledge of what the last three or four generations died of can be helpful for your medical profile. When investigating your medical family history, don't ignore collateral lines! Cousins, aunts and uncles are as important as your direct line of ancestors are.

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