Do you know what conditions pose the biggest threat to women's health? The first step to staying healthy is knowing what you're up against, and then taking the necessary precautions to reduce your risk. The good news is that many of the leading threats to womenâ€™s health, which can vary based on a woman's age and background, are preventable.
Like men, women are also continuously exposed to threats to their health. These threats are mostly related to her diet and working environment. Many of these threats are what we call as silent killers as they attack women’s health in a very discrete and slow way. In most cases, it takes long medication to finally be free from these diseases.
So what are the most threatening diseases to women? What are the causes and ways to fight them? Here are the ten most common but dangerous diseases of women.
Heart diseases. Contrary to common beliefs, heart disease is not only men’s thing. It kills more people around the world than other diseases. Over the years, there is increasing number of women who died of this disease. Women above 50 are the most prone to these diseases. Accordingly, 27.2% of women’s death is caused by heart diseases.
Smoking (or exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco and nicotine-based products), too much drinking and unhealthy diet are the main causes of heart diseases. In order to prevent or fight this disease, it is advised to include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber food and lean source of meat in the diet. Foods high in saturated fats and sodium shall also be limited, if not avoided. Women should also engage in physical activities in their daily routines, say aerobic exercises, and find ways to effectively manage everyday stress.
Breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women. It affects one in every eight women. It is a malignant tumor which forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk).
Among the factors that trigger the development and growth of tumor are age, genes, and personal factors. Other risks are overweight, use of hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, alcohol, not having children or having your first child after 35, and many others. Common symptoms of breast cancer are the presence of lump in or near the breast or in the underarm area, nipple tenderness, a nipple turned inward to the breast, and nipple becoming red, swollen or scaly.
Early diagnosis plays a major role in the treatment of breast cancer. Options may involve surgery (removal of the cancer alone or, in some cases, mastectomy), radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Ovarian cancer. Another leading cause of cancer death in women is ovarian cancer. Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).
Ovarian cancer does not show symptoms until the cancer has spread extensively. Warning signs include pelvic or abdominal pains, urgent or frequent urination, swollen abdomen, indigestion, constipation and feeling tired all the time. For treatment, most women have surgery and chemotherapy.
Cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer forming in the tissues of the cervix. The cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection which alters the cervical cell. Women with many sexual partners are most prone to cervical cancer.
It may not have symptoms but can be detected with regular Pap tests. When the cancer grows larger, women may notice one or more of these symptoms: abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sexual intercourse, bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods, menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before, bleeding after going through menopause, douching, increased vaginal discharge, and pelvic pain during sex. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread.
Colon cancer. Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas which means that cancer cells in the colon make and release mucus and other fluids. Factors that increase a person's risk of colorectal cancer include high fat intake, a family history of colorectal cancer and polyps, the presence of polyps in the large intestine, and chronic ulcerative colitis.
Symptoms of colon cancers are fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer. During surgery, the tumor, a small margin of the surrounding healthy bowel, and adjacent lymph nodes are removed.
Diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of deaths in women. If you have this disease, blood sugar becomes too high as the blood becomes incapable of breaking down sugar to simpler glucose. Diabetes is mostly hereditary, but diet can also cause this. Symptoms include frequent urination, unquenchable thirst, sudden weight loss, weakness and fatigue, and numbness in hands, legs or feet.
Diabetes can lead to high blood pressure and damage the blood vessels. It can also cause kidney failure, leg infections and other serious health problems.
Leukemia. Leukemia is cancer that forms in the tissues of the blood. In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells which interfere with the normal operations of the red blood cells.
Common symptoms of chronic or acute leukemia may include: swollen lymph nodes that usually do not hurt, fever or night sweats, frequent infections, feeling weak or tired, bleeding and bruising easily, swelling or discomfort in the abdomen, weight loss for no known reason, and pain in the bones or joints. People with leukemia are at significantly increased risk for developing infections, anemia, and bleeding.
Most patients with leukemia are treated with chemotherapy. Some patients also may have radiation therapy and/or bone marrow transplantation.
Stroke. Stroke causes 7.5% of women’s mortality. Stroke happens when there is formation of blood clots or leakage of blood in the brain. It is hard to control some risk factors for stroke like genes, age and race. However, you can have a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking and drinking, and manage the condition in order to lessen the chances of stroke.
Respiratory diseases. Chronic lower respiratory diseases include bronchitis and emphysema. To avoid these conditions, it is better not to smoke or steer clear of pollutants. Washing hands, getting regular flu vaccine and having good lifestyle are some ways to prevent respiratory infections.
Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies involving European and Asian populations have indicated that women have a much higher risk of Alzheimer's than men. This may be due to the female hormone estrogen, which has properties that protect against the memory loss that accompanies aging. When a woman reaches menopause, reduced levels of estrogen may play a role in her increased risk of developing Alzheimer's.
References: Health Guidance, WebMD, MayoClinic
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