News Release

November 12, 2007

Contact: Christopher DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Something to Talk About at Thanksgiving

Families Can Use Time Together for Valuable Health Discussion

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Thanksgiving is a great time to catch up on the lives of family members. It also presents an ideal opportunity to have a conversation about family health and well-being.

“For many families, holidays often are the only times during the year that different generations gather together. This creates a rare, but perfect, chance to talk about the family health history,” says Jennifer Stroop, M.S., a certified genetic counselor at the University of Connecticut Health Center. “Our family histories can provide clues about our risks for common conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If there is a family history of cancer, for instance, it is helpful to try to learn the type of cancer and age of onset.”

In 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General declared National Family History Day would be recognized annually on Thanksgiving.

“Knowing family health history information and sharing it with your health care provider is an important part of screening and prevention,” says Adam R. Silverman, M.D., F.A.C.P, chief of the Health Center’s Division of General Internal Medicine. “Families should take this opportunity to gather their health history and write it down.”

To help organize this important information, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a free web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait, which helps create a drawing of a family tree and a family health history chart. The chart and the drawing can be printed and shared with family members and health care professionals. The link to this tool is

Additionally, individuals can create a written record of medications, including dosage and frequency, as well as information on allergies, physicians and pharmacists. The UConn Health Center offers personal pocket medication cards for this purpose. They’re available for download at and by request by calling 800-535-6232 or 860-679-7692.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.