Top Issues Affecting Women's Health

Updated on May 22, 2018
Chin chin profile image

My name is Chin chin. I have a BS degree in food technology. I like to share important information about health and food-related topics.

Men and women may be inflicted with similar ailments, yet there are conditions affecting women's health exclusively or more seriously. It is important that women are aware of these health issues so that taking special care may bring forth the benefit of a long and healthy life.

An ounce of prevention is worth a thousand cures. This classic expression is never more appropriate than for the state of our overall wellness. Risks for a lot of health conditions can be reduced significantly, and in many cases, early diagnosis can save women’s lives.

Generally, women fail to take into account their health, until it is too late. Most women live a fast-paced life. We work, we manage our home, children, and husbands, and quite often, we forget about ourselves in the process. If we continue to do this, how can we live well into our 80s, have fun with our grandkids, travel the world, or just have the perfect time to take it easy and do anything we want in retirement, without any sickness and risk of demise from some fatal condition?

Don't waste the numerous developments in technology and plethora of knowledge in modern day medicines that are available. Take advantage of them. They are there to make a long and healthful life totally possible.

Health and women. Image by Rhoda Baer licensed under Public Domain
Health and women. Image by Rhoda Baer licensed under Public Domain | Source

Most Critical Health Concerns for Women

The following discusses the top health issues or diseases affecting many women around the world. If you are concerned that you may have these health problems, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.

Breast Cancer

According to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, 1 in 98 women is expected to have breast cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from it. The prevalence of breast cancer is much less in women who have normal body weight. If you exercise regularly and eat the right kind of food so that you maintain your weight, you could lower your chances of having breast cancer. Additionally, you can take some tests that could facilitate early detection.

Essential Cancer Screenings

Breast self-exam: There is still a debate as to whether a breast self-exam is really beneficial. Nevertheless, it does not do any harm to check your breasts for lumps at least once every month and to consult your doctor if anything at all doesn’t feel right. Breastcancer.org provides a step-by-step guide to breast self-examination.

Clinical breast exam (CBE): The American Cancer Society highly recommends a CBE for women with ages 20 to 30 years old. It is administered by a physician once every 3 years. Starting from the age of 40, CBE is to be conducted once per annum.

Mammograms: Women who are 40 years and older need regular mammograms annually and should continue so long as they're in good shape.

MRI and Mammogram: Women who are regarded as high risk for breast cancer are encouraged to have an MRI and a mammogram yearly, as recommended by the American Cancer Association.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Who are considered at high risk for breast cancer? Women are assessed according to the Claus model test standards and are determined to have 20-25% or higher risk for cancer when:

  • they have tested positive for the presence of BRCA1 or BRCA2, which are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins
  • they have a first-degree relative, a father or mother, sibling, or child, with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, but have never had any genetic screening themselves
  • they had chest x-rays at any age between 10 and 30 years old
  • they have been clinically diagnosed with Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba, Li-Fraumeni or Cowden syndrome or have first-degree relatives with any of these syndromes

If the lifetime risk of a woman according to the standards above is 15% or less, she does not need to undergo any MRI test for breast cancer.

Mammogram for breast cancer screening. Image by Rhoda Baer
Mammogram for breast cancer screening. Image by Rhoda Baer | Source

1 in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from it.

— Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Heart Disease

Heart disease is known as a leading killer of men and women in the United States. As per the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 289,758 women died of heart disease in 2013—that’s about 1 in every 4 female. The real tragedy is that the fatalities are usually premature, or a heart attack leads to disability that affects quality lifestyle, including breathing problems while walking, making use of stairways, or carrying out various daily activities as a result of impairment in mobility. Statistically women are underdiagnosed with regards to heart disease, usually because both physicians and the women themselves neglect the symptoms, including nausea, and shortness of breath.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The American Heart Association lists these risk factors for heart disease:

  • Aging
  • Genetics and ethnic background: Individuals with a family history are at greater risk, particularly Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Diabetes

The true secret to keeping heart health is to do something early in life simply because prevention is the best means of avoiding heart disease. What this means is making healthy lifestyle decisions, such as diet, physical exercise and not smoking to lessen the actual risks for heart associated concerns. Additionally, it is vital that you talk to your physician if you have one of the risks in the list to seek early intervention and suitable healthcare assistance.

Heart disease accounted for 1 in every 4 female deaths in 2013.

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Obesity

Obesity is now an epidemic in developed nations including the United States. Ideally, you should keep your body weight from ever going above acceptable ranges. However, if you ever become obese, you could begin establishing healthy eating habits and physical exercise routines as soon as possible to shed weight.

How to Determine if You're Obese

You could find out if you're overweight by doing this: Measure your body weight in pounds and divide it by your height in inches squared. Then, multiply that by 703. A value above 25 indicates you are overweight, and a value above 30 indicates you're obese. You can also get BMI scales to easily figure out where you are to be able to assess obesity.

Obesity presents several serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and early demise. Take control of your body weight via numerous healthy ways. Looking for the advice of a dietitian is a good starting point.

More than 1/3 of adults are considered to be obese. About 1/3 of children and adolescents ages 6-19 are considered to be overweight or obese.

— National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010

Osteoporosis

Indications of osteoporosis in older women include hunched back, back pain, and frailty. The development of this condition depends upon the behavior of a person from childhood to adulthood. Generally, bodies develop bone mass until 30 years of age. After that, new bone stops forming and the body simply maintains the old bones. To keep the bones strong, avoid fractures and repair bone damage, a person must consume adequate calcium such as from milk and calcium supplements. Doing weight-bearing physical activities is also beneficial.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

If you know you are at risk of having osteoporosis, consult your doctor for preventive measures.

  • Aging
  • Small, slender frame
  • White and Asian women have the greatest risk.
  • Family history of fractures
  • Irregular menstrual cycles and estrogen reduction as a result of menopause could increase risk.
  • Anorexia
  • Insufficient calcium and vitamin D
  • Use of glucocorticoids or some anticonvulsants
  • Sedentary way of living
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Too much alcohol

Being female puts you at risk of developing osteoporosis. Eighty percent of people who suffer osteoporosis are females.

— National Osteoporosis Foundation

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer could develop in females at just about any age, generally beginning in a woman’s 20s and becoming less common as a woman gets to her 70s. Cervical cancer may be in part averted by acquiring a vaccination during your teens which shields women against numerous types of human papillomavirus or HPV.

HPV infection of the genitals and cervix is a recognized risk factor for cervical cancer. Women aged 21 to 65 years old need routine pap smear tests for cervical cancer screening every three years. This requires scraping of cervical cells and examining them for precancerous signs under a microscope. For women who are 30 years or older, the physician could recommend a mix of a Pap smear with a human papillomavirus (HPV) examination to be performed every five years.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition of high blood sugar and a number of critical complications of high blood sugar that are linked to family history and obesity. When you have a family history of diabetes, you ought to try to keep your body weight in the ideal range and must have your physician check a fasting blood sugar on you every 3 to 5 years. Obese people may still acquire type 2 diabetes even with no family history.

Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes

Consult your medical doctor if you are at risk of having Type 2 diabetes.

  • Aged above 45
  • Overweight or obese having a BMI of 35 or higher
  • Have pre-diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • Have first-degree relatives with type 2 diabetes
  • Do not exercise every day
  • Have low good cholesterol (HDL) or high bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Hypertensive
  • Belong to a racial or ethnic group such as African American, Native American, Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander

The burden of diabetes on women is unique because the disease can affect both mothers and their unborn children.

— American Diabetes Association

Bottom Line

Always remember that you don’t have to be victim to these health conditions. Screening for some of these diseases on a regular basis and preventing them through a healthy diet and exercise program can help you stay healthy for many years to come.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Chin chin

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      • Chin chin profile imageAUTHOR

        Chin chin 

        3 years ago from Philippines

        When we are in good health, we can enjoy life more. But I get your point, BlossomSB, that we should not let this concern take control of our whole being.

        Thank you, BlossomSB, for reading this hub and sharing your thoughts.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        Health is important, but if we take too much notice of it, it can take over and then all we can think of is ourselves. It's better to get on with enjoying life the way it is. Interesting hub.

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