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As medicine barrels its way through the 21st century, becoming even more customized and precise, it’s important to have a family-health history.

“Knowing your family’s health history is essential in being able to take the right steps for disease prevention and early detection,” says certified genetic counselor Nicole Boxer, MS, CGC, of White Plains Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care. “Many common health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, and several types of cancer, have a significant genetic component, and being aware of your inherited risk is a key factor in effective self-care.”

The surgeon general has implemented an online tool to make it easy to create a family history. Simply go to the “My Family Health Portrait” website, and follow the instructions. In about 20 minutes, you’ll have a private downloadable “pedigree” family tree. 

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