Government pushes electronic family tree for good health

WASHINGTON — It happens all the time: Filling out that clipboard at the doctor’s office, you can’t remember what cancer killed Aunt Sally or when Dad had his heart attack.

WASHINGTON — It happens all the time: Filling out that clipboard at the doctor’s office, you can’t remember what cancer killed Aunt Sally or when Dad had his heart attack.

A good family health history is far more important than a gene test in predicting your future medical needs, but it’s hugely underused. Yesterday, the government began offering a free new service to try to change that — helping people compile one at home, e-mail it to relatives who can fill in the gaps and even pop it straight into their doctors’ computers.

Quiz enough extended family about who battled what disease, and you can fill it out in as little as 20 minutes.

“That is an amazingly positive investment,” Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson, whose office spearheaded the new initiative, told The Associated Press. “You’re going to help your doctor learn a lot more about you by spending those 20 minutes, and you can share that invested time around your family and with your physicians way into the future.”

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