Let’s talk about health

Family history is a term synonymous with Utah culture. The U.S. surgeon general, however, has given it a new twist this Thanksgiving.

In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Surgeon General Richard Carmona announced Thanksgiving 2004 as “National Family History Day” to encourage table talk about cancer or diabetes that run in the family.

“I would love to know what diseases run in my family,” Issa Moursal, a senior in sociology, said.

A recent survey found that 96 percent of Americans believe that knowing their families’ health histories are important. Only one-third of American families, however, have tried to gather information and write down their histories, according to the HHS.

“The problem with people this age is they feel invincible and that diseases won’t happen until you’re older, but they’re getting diseases younger and younger,” said Erica Kumar, a senior majoring in behavioral science and health.

Erin Dola, a genetic counselor at the HCI, said that while families will sit at the table and spend time with one another, families should focus on whether or not any diseases have been found in their families’ histories.

“Students should be asking multiple different questions beyond cancer, like heart disease and diabetes,” Dola said.

Although the information is important in assessing whether or not a propensity for a serious disease exists, some students disagreed in discussing it on a holiday.

“I wouldn’t want to talk about that on Thanksgiving,” said Kumar.

Angela Cu, a U senior in finance, said it might not be the best Turkey Day topic, but it would serve as a good reminder to visit her doctor.

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