INTERVIEW: Thanksgiving is a good time to talk family health history

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – In a couple of days you will gather around for Thanksgiving feast. Hopefully it will be some of the members of your extended family. It's probably not something you get to do all the time so you need to make the most of it.

One of our Neighborhood Health Watch doctors, Doctor John Clay, is here to explaining Thanksgiving is a perfect time to talk about your family health history.

RYAN: Thanks for being here.

JOHN: Appreciate you having me.

RYAN: This is probably not what people think of at Thanksgiving dinner conversation, but it's a good opportunity. Why?

JOHN: It certainly is. What better time to sit down and ask your family members what's going on when they are in town from places far away, that sort of thing. Just to find out what sort of problems tend to run in the family. It really helps us when we're helping patients to try to be able to know exactly what people's family history is.

RYAN: There are a lot of things you take into account when treating patient. Family history is one of them. Give us an idea some of the issue that could crop up with someone as a result of their genetics passed that was down from maybe, uncles and aunts and mother and father.

JOHN: One thing we always think about is cancers. I always tend to ask people, particularly men that come in, what about family history of prostate or colon cancer. Any other family cancers that people have had whether it be immediate family, brothers, sister, parents or even children some people don't think about that from that standpoint. Generally grandparents it's important to know that as well. So it's very important to have as much of that as possible.

RYAN: Is this good information to know even if you're not having problems. How does that help you prevent problems in the future?

JOHN: Absolutely. That's a great question. Women we certainly think about breast cancer as well. But one of the things that helps us is say for example you come in to see me and you have a family history of your father or your mother that had colon cancer say the age of 35 or 40. That's a great thing for us to know because we know to be more aggressive in terms of starting the screening process at a much earlier time period, so that way we will be able to catch something if it's something you going to have at some point.

RYAN: Something like that could end up saving your life.

JOHN: Without question. Not only apply to cancer but things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and multiple other conditions such as that. It's important for us to know. We think some children that are diagnosed with Type One diabetes are found early because their mom or dad had Type One diabetes and they were able to screen early.

RYAN: A valuable dinner conversation. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

JOHN: Likewise.

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