A variety of resources can help you in your search. State and federal government agencies maintain records that may assist you in tracing your family medical history. In California, the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Sacramento (telephone:  445-2684) is a good starting point for birth, marriage and death certificates. Religious and funeral records can play an important role in your research. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a computer database of 60 million immigrants in its family history library in Salt Lake City. I used one of the church library's local branches in my research.
So what else did I learn about my family medical history?
Her Biggest Risks: Heart Disease, Diabetes
Although there was a considerable history of cancer in my family, my biggest risks came from heart disease and diabetes. No two relatives had died of the same form of cancer--a strong indicator that there was no genetic predisposition to these illnesses. A genetic counselor set my mind at ease by telling me that my risk of developing breast cancer and other forms of cancer was no greater than the general population. But heart disease and diabetes showed up frequently in my genogram, suggesting that these illnesses could some day affect me.