When my doctor discovered a precancerous polyp in my colon in 2010, my first worry was whether I might have passed the genes linked to colon cancer on to my children. Though the polyp was safely removed, I couldn't stop thinking that the same genes that put me at risk might haunt my kids when they get older. I know I can't prevent that from happening, but by telling them about our family history of colon cancer, I can give them the information they need to fight it.
Being at increased risk for a disease doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to getting it. On the contrary: Knowing what may be lurking in your DNA is one of the most powerful tools you have to save your own life. If you're aware of what to watch out for, you can take steps to prevent illness and stay healthy.
When your parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gather together this holiday season, I want you to put it all on the table. These topics might be difficult to discuss, but doing so will benefit you and your loved ones in the long run. Write down all the facts you collect and share them with your doctor; a comprehensive medical history will help her better identify risk factors you may have overlooked and monitor you for early warning signs of disease. Here are the five questions you need to ask.