You may not realize it, but your lifestyle could be putting you at risk for common health problems that afflict women. National Women’s Health Week, observed May 13-19, is a great reminder to brush up on some facts that can help you stay healthy.
The causes of breast cancer are complicated, but some significant risk factors are preventable. Obesity is one such risk, and even moderate weight loss helps protect you. Cutting down on alcohol will also improve your chances of staying breast cancer-free.
It’s impossible to eliminate your risk entirely, but early detection will improve your prognosis. Conduct regular self-breast examinations and let your doctor know if you detect anything unusual. Follow the National Cancer Institute guidelines and get a mammogram annually when you turn 40.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
You may regard Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) as rare, but one in 700 women will experience tampon-related TSS, according to You ARE Loved, a non-profit working to educate girls and women about the disease. TSS is a bacterial infection characterized by sudden high fever, diarrhea, rash, muscle aches and headache. You can significantly reduce your risk of this life-threatening disease with a trip to the drug store.
“Historically, tampon use has been linked to half of all TSS cases, so simply switching to a safer product is a terrific safeguard against this disease,” says Dr. Christine Ko, an expert in women’s health.
You likely are familiar with pads, but there are alternatives you may find more convenient. For example, Softcup is a flexible cup worn internally around your cervix. It’s hypo-allergenic, latex-free and has never been linked to TSS. There’s an added benefit too: products like Softcup can be worn for up to 12 hours and don’t leave behind the residual fibers and traces of bleach, dioxins and other residues that tampons can. It won’t change your body’s natural pH or bacteria levels either, reducing your risk for infections.
More information on reducing TSS risk can be found at www.softcup.com.
Many people think heart disease is an exclusively male risk. But women also need to protect their hearts. While severe chest pain is a symptom often associated with heart disease in men, women need to watch for different signs. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, fatigue and sweating.
You’re never too young to take steps to prevent heart disease, particularly if it runs in your family. You can keep your heart healthier by reducing saturated fat, cholesterol and salt in your diet, and getting regular exercise.
While depression and smoking can adversely affect anyone’s heart, The Mayo Clinic reports these risk factors are greater in women. So cut out cigarettes and take steps to treat mental stress right away.
Most importantly, learn your risk for common health problems, so you can take steps to improve your chances of staying healthy.