Q: With all that's going on in the world many people are concerned about maintaining peace and harmony around the holiday table. Is this still a good time to bring up another difficult topic like family medical history? How do you raise the subject?

A: With the holidays right around the corner, there may be people cringing at the thought of anything resembling politics being discussed at the family table. As an alternative topic, getting together with relatives can be the perfect opportunity to discuss your family history. It's true that some families are more open to discussing medical and health histories than others, but these conversations are becoming more common as ancestry websites gain popularity. In fact, Thanksgiving has been declared as National Family History Day. Therefore, use this upcoming holiday season as a time to learn more about your family history.

Amanda Brandt, Dana Clark, and Danielle McKenna are genetic counselors in the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

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