Frankie Meyer: Celebrate women’s suffrage by recording the health history of a female relative or ancestor – Joplin Globe

Posted: August 25, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Attention, women genealogists! August is our month. The centennial of womens suffrage is being celebrated this month. One hundred years ago, the 19th Amendment went into effect, giving women the right to vote. National Sisters Day is also this month.

Celebrate the month by recording the health history of female relatives and ancestors. From your details, family members can learn about risk factors that exist in the family, symptoms of those conditions, lifestyle changes that can lower the risks, tests that can identify people at risk, chances of passing the condition to descendants and treatments that will be helpful. The information may save the lives of those you love.

Several online family medical charts are available free of charge. The charts have blanks where conditions can be recorded for each family member. Basic questions are name, date of birth, sex and ethnicity.

In addition, the charts list medical conditions with a space to record the date at which it developed. Some examples are: substance abuse, alcoholism, heart attacks, birth defects, mental illness, stillbirths, infertility, miscarriages, hemophilia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, breast cancer, Parkinsons disease, ovarian cancer, skin cancers and neurofibromatosis.

To learn about medical conditions of deceased family members, check family journals, biographies, old letters, obituaries and death certificates.Interview older family members. Are there vague stories of a family member who went to a sanitarium or insane asylum? Learn where those local institutions were located and where the records are stored.

Be aware that some family members cherish their privacy and will choose not to share health information. Use discretion when sharing medical details, and get permission from family members before doing so.

Many genetic conditions occur as a result of interactions between genetics and the environment. Breast cancer seems to run in my family, but why does it occur among some descendants and not others? In hopes of helping scientists answer that question, several years ago I became part of the sister study sponsored by the National Institute of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with partner organizations, such as American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen organization. Between 2003 to 2009, the study enrolled over 50,000 women who had at least one sister with breast cancer. The study tracks the health of participants in order to learn how environmental factors influence the development of different types of breast cancer.

Similar large-scale studies are being done with other genetic conditions, such as Parkinsons disease.

Comments or suggestions? Contact Frankie Meyer at

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Frankie Meyer: Celebrate women's suffrage by recording the health history of a female relative or ancestor - Joplin Globe

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