Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 

Did you know, Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day? Officially designated as such in 2004 by the surgeon general, this day is dedicated to learning your family health history and starting conversations about the topic with your loved ones. 

Knowing your family health history is important and can help you prevent and watch for certain health risks that may run in your family.  It’s especially important to know your family health history when it comes to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These diseases are often inherited and knowing your family health history can help you be aware and take preventive measures. By knowing your health risks, you can make lifestyle changes and screen for illnesses before they happen. 

Additionally, some of these diseases can also skip generations. You may think you have a pretty good understanding of your family’s health history, but usually this only includes one or two generations that you have known in your lifetime. Asking grandparents about their parents and other relatives will help give a fuller picture of what health risks may run in your family and what diseases may pop up again after skipping generations. 

Starting these conversations with family members may be hard, but they are necessary not only for your health but for the health, but for the health of everyone in your family and of future generations. 

Common Latino and Hispanic health concerns 

For Latino and Hispanic families, some health concerns you may want to look out for include: high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. 

According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer in Hispanics are the two leading causes of death, accounting for about 2 of 5 deaths. Statistically, Latinos are more likely to suffer from heart disease and on average, Hispanic women at risk of heart disease are likely to develop the condition 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics according to data from Go Red for Women

Other health concerns that Latinos and Hispanics should discuss with family members are chronic liver disease, chronic kidney diseases, and strokes. 

Data shows that Hispanic Americans have twice the rate of chronic liver disease compared to non-Hispanic whites and are more likely than whites to die of chronic liver disease. 

Hispanics are also 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans, and 20 percent of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are Hispanic. 

Getting the conversation started

To get started talking about your family health history with your loved ones, begin by asking questions. The CDC outlines questions you can use to get the conversation started such as: 

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
  • How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your relative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
  • What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
  • What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

After asking these questions, record the information and update it as you learn more about your family health history. 

The CDC offers a free web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait, to help you organize the information. My Family Health Portrait also allows you to share this information easily with your doctor and other family members.

Once you have collected this information, you can then discuss these concerns with your doctor and make plans for screening tests and other examinations. 

Start the conversation this Thanksgiving with your loved ones and help each other learn more about your family health history to keep each other healthy for years to come!

Education is key to breast cancer prevention in Latina women

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. 

Overall, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer amongst women worldwide. Among Hispanic women, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of death, with an estimated 3,200 deaths in 2018 according to a fact sheet. Additionally, there were an estimated 24,000 cases of Hispanic women diagnosed in 2018. 

Breast Cancer education and prevention for Latinas

Latinas are warriors and champions in everything they do, from being successful entrepreneurs to battling cancer, the Latina spirit always perseveres through adversity. Organizations such as Latinas Contra Cancer and ALAS-WINGS were created by Latina cancer survivors with the mission to help other women through education, resources, and support. 

Education is one of the key prevention measures against breast cancer. While breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic women, they still exhibit 25-30% lower overall mortality rates compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

In fact, studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer is even lower in those who are foreign-born. This is attributed to many cultural factors such as younger age at first birth, less use of menopausal hormone therapy, higher rates of breastfeeding, and different diets. 

The biggest issue facing Hispanic women when it comes to breast cancer is early detection and diagnosis. Breast cancer is less likely to be diagnosed at the earliest stage in Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

According to data provided by, in 2005-2009, 56% of breast cancers among Hispanic women were diagnosed at a local stage, compared to 64% among non-Hispanic white women. Due to later detection, Hispanic women are more likely to be diagnosed with tumors that are larger and are hormone receptor negative, which are more difficult to treat. 

Additionally, Hispanic women are less likely to receive regular mammography screening due to a variety of factors. These factors include difficulties related to access to care, insurance coverage, and a higher prevalence of unmet healthcare needs

Latinas Contra Cancer is working to address these factors by raising awareness about cancer in the Latino community, increasing access to quality care, working to decrease mortality and improving the quality of the health care experience. Their mission is to create an inclusive health care system that provides services to the underserved Latino population around issues of breast and other cancers.  

You might be interested: Marcela Berland, a pioneer in working from home, combines work and maternity

Reducing risk factors through lifestyle changes 

While there are some risk factors such as age, genetics, and family history that cannot be changed, there are many risk factors that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. 

Some of these manageable risk factors include diet and exercise, weight management, alcohol consumption, menopausal hormone treatment, and breastfeeding habits. 

By adapting a health-conscious lifestyle, many risk factors may be prevented. Above all, continued education and awareness will help women make informed decisions about their health and contribute to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. 

For additional resources visit: 

Latinas Contra Cancer



Helen Troncoso, Miss NY America 2012 with Carlos Medina, SHCCNJ Presdient and Luis O De la Hoz, Board member, at the 2014 First Health and Wellness Fair.

The power of Hispanic business at the SHCCNJ 2nd Annual Health and Wellness Fair  

Erica and Diana

If you have not registered yet for the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ) Second Annual Health & Wellness Fair taking place this coming Friday May 15, you are still on time. Come early to help kick off the day! The first 100 attendees will receive goodie bags filled with samples, coupons and products from sponsors.

This event, which brings together over 100 exhibitors including large corporations, small businesses, restaurants and individual health professionals interested in sharing knowledge on pressing health issues in the local community, is open to all members and non-members of the chamber.

The fair will take place at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, NJ. A Newark landmark for nearly 100 years, the Robert Treat Hotel has been a favorite for generations, hosting five presidents, numerous governors and many foreign dignitaries. Mayor of the City of Newark, Ras Baraka will be on hand alongside Gold Sponsors to welcome attendees to the event. They will also serve as speakers at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

Exhibitors at the 2014 First Health and Wellness Fair.

Exhibitors at the 2014 First Health and Wellness Fair.

 “We are proud to organize this event not only to benefit members & friends of SHCC-NJ, but the community at large as well. Anyone can benefit from the wealth of great information that will be available”, said Carlos Medina, Esq., Chairman of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Exhibitors at the Fair will offer best practices, samples and products to maintain optimal health.

Mercedes and Natalia Novoa

Mercedes and Natalia Novoa, mother and daughter Zumba and Meditation instructors.

One of these exhibitors is Natalia Novoa, a Zumba and Meditation instructor. “I have a masters degree in Holistic Health and I am teaching group fitness classes of Zumba and Meditation with my mother, Mercedes Novoa.  We are a mother/daughter team inspiring people from all different ages, sizes, races, and types.  The SHCCNJ has given me support throughout my career so I owe where I am today to the chamber and it is time to give back to my community,” she said enthusiastically.

Take your blood pressure and more! (Exhibitors at the 2014 First Health and Wellness Fair)

Take your blood pressure and more! (Exhibitors at the 2014 First Health and Wellness Fair)

The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey had its beginnings in 1989. Since mid-1998, the SHCC-NJ has become the largest chamber in New Jersey and rated among the top chambers in the Garden State for ten consecutive years. SHCC-NJ is the Flagship of the Small Business Community and its non-Hispanic membership has grown to forty-five percent, making it the perfect vehicle to access the Latino community and its formidable purchasing power. The SHCC-NJ has been actively involved with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Additional information regarding event attendance or sponsorship can be obtained by emailing the Chamber at or by phone at (973) 900-5886. For more information on this event or on the Chamber, you can access or contact Aixa Lopez at