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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | November 24th, 2019


    “I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”

    Joyce Meyer

    Diabetes runs on my paternal side of the family. My paternal grandfather and father died in their prime due to complications related to diabetes. Knowing that family history has been my motivation to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and be mindful of my diet. November 28th is not only Thanksgiving Day but it is also National Family Health History Day and the theme this year is –  Knowing is Not Enough, Act on your Family Health History.

    When you see your health care provider, part of your medical history is inquiring about your family history. We want to know about your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. We want to know about major health conditions and causes of death. We want to know the age of onset of the disease and the age of death. The holiday season is the best time to get that kind of information since you will be with family.

    Your family history is one of the strongest influences in your risk of developing such diseases as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Although you cannot change your genes, you can do something to either prevent the disease from occurring or try to delay the onset of the disease. It may require getting screened at an earlier age for the disease. It might require that you make dietary changes. It might mean that you take certain medications to prevent the disease. It might mean that you see a genetic specialist to get special tests. What it definitely means is that knowing is not enough, you must act on your family history.

    For information on how to gather the information and document the information on your family history, click here.


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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

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