Is diabetes in the genes? Family history may reveal more than we thought

It may be that only nine simple questions are needed to predict a person's risk for conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

That's because a study from the University of Melbourne found that a family history screening questionnaire could be a tool to help cover a range of conditions. Based on the findings, more insight about disease prevention and development can be gleaned from using these questions, and it's completely cost-effective.

"No brief tool has been developed to cover a range of conditions in primary care that has been validated to the same extent as ours," said lead researcher Jon Emery, professor of primary-care cancer research at the university.

Tool may enable more 'detailed discussion'

Emery says the screening tool is the first of its kind to validate the process of family history screening as a way to detect risk for certain conditions. And since knowledge of family history about specific health conditions is associated with better patient-directed disease-prevention practices, the tool may be helpful for both doctors and patients.

"This finding could be used as a screening tool in general practice to identify people who need a more detailed discussion about their family history of cancer, diabetes or heart disease," Emery said.

Based on feedback from the questionnaire, some patients may be referred to have more genetic testing done to determine which lifestyle management tools they can use to prevent diabetes or other conditions, he concluded.

Source: University of Melbourne

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