American women may not clearly understand the health risks that they face everyday. Here’s a look at the top 5!
Cancer, especially breast cancer, tends to create the most anxiety for women.
While cancer is the second major cause of death for women, women are more likely to die from heart disease.
There are proven steps you can take to help reduce your health risk for many leading causes of death, (with the exception of Alzheimer’s disease).
Number One – Heart Disease
Nearly 500,000 women will die of heart disease in 2006 compared to 41,000 from breast cancer.
Certain risk factors, like age or family history, are unavoidable.
There are factors you can control through lifestyle and diet.
For high blood pressure or cholesterol levels that are uncontrolled despite lifestyle changes, there are medications available.
Number Two – Cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in America. Breast cancer and colorectal cancer follow.
Smoking and secondhand smoke play a huge role in the incidence of lung cancer.
Studies are continuing to show the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke.
Research shows that diet and lifestyle also contribute to developing cancer.
The medical field stresses the importance of mammograms and colorectal cancer screenings. They state that cancer could be dramatically reduced in this country if people followed screening guidelines.
Number Three – Stroke
About 60 percent of the nearly 163,000 Americans who die of stroke each year are women. Stroke is also a leading cause of disability. If you have a history of migraines, autoimmune or clotting disorders, or use birth control pills, or hormone replacement, talk with your doctor about stroke risk.
Number Four – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The number one reason people develop COPD is smoking.
In cases where it isn’t due to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, it may result from environmental irritants.
For a small percentage of patients there is a genetic cause.
Number Five – Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that ultimately leads to death. Scientists still do not understand how or why this disease develops, but age and family history are the most serious risk factors.
There are two different classes of drugs that slow the rate of Alzheimer’s. Recent research suggest that a healthy lifestyle including a diet low in fat and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, avoiding head injuries and regular mental exercise may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Talk to Your Doctor
Talk with your doctor about ways you can reduce health risks and help protect your health and that of your loved ones.
10 Ways To Improve Your Health
- Don’t smoke and limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Follow the recommended screening schedules for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and skin cancer.
- If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, control the conditions with lifestyle changes as well as medication, if prescribed by your doctor.
- Eat a healthy diet, emphasizing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, with moderate amounts of protein and little fat.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Reduce stress.
- Limit exposure to the sun and use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when outdoors.
- Discuss your risk factors and family medical history with your healthcare provider.