21 Mar Girl Power: Defeating the Top 3 Health Risks for Women
Attention, ladies! Today, we’re talking about three of the top health risks for women: heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Here’s what you can do about them:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) names heart disease as the leading cause of death for both men and women—in fact, it claims the lives of one in every four women.
The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is when plaque builds up in your arteries (your arteries are responsible for carrying blood to your heart). Not only does this increase your blood pressure, but it can also potentially cause a heart attack.
Family history plays a large role in determining who’s at risk, but lifestyle choices are key, too. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take now to protect yourself. Living a healthy, active lifestyle is a huge help in keeping your body (and cardiovascular system) in good shape. Eating right, exercising regularly, and avoiding cigarettes can help you control your blood pressure, glucose levels, and cholesterol, all of which could contribute to heart disease if they get out of hand.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American women (just behind skin cancer), and the second leading cause of cancer death in women (just behind lung cancer).
Cervical cancer used to be one of the leading causes of cancer death in American women, but that number has been on a steady decline over the last four decades.
While there are some risk factors you cannot change, like aging and DNA, there are others you have control of that can (1) lower your chances of getting these cancers or (2) increase your odds of catching the cancer early.
First, get tested regularly. Be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so that you’ll know if there’s a been a change, which you can then bring up with your health care provider. If you’re older than 40 years old, talk to your health care provider about scheduling a mammogram. If you’re sexually active and between the ages of 21 and 65, you should have regular Pap testing. All of this testing can help you catch cancer while it’s in its early stages. Finally, exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help to ward off these cancers.
Osteoporosis has a reputation for only affecting women, but that’s not true. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), there are about 10 million Americans who live with osteoporosis, and 20% of those cases are men. Even though both men and women are affected, it’s no secret that women are at a higher risk.
We know that bone loss causes osteoporosis. The bone in your body is constantly being replaced, and usually starting in your thirties or forties, your body begins losing more bone than it accumulates, eventually resulting in osteoporosis. Women are more likely to see it sooner than men because women’s bones are generally smaller, since their bodies won’t accumulate as much bone mass as men.
Osteoporosis is not inevitable—there are steps you can take to protect your body from the onset of osteoporosis. For one thing, exercise (specifically, muscle-building exercises and weight training) can help improve your bone health and maintain your bone density. Also, make sure that you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet (vitamin D is important because it helps your body absorb the calcium, and consuming enough calcium won’t matter if your body can’t absorb it).
If you have any questions about your health, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Mai Sharaf, by calling 817-617-8650 or by scheduling online at continuumtx.com.