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Published on December 04, 2013

The Seven Deadly Health Threats

December 4, 2013

Woman's Health ImageThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently compiled a list of the most common health conditions affecting women.

#1: Heart Disease. Cardiovascular disease remains at the top of the list of women’s health concerns. Risk increases as you age, so do all you can to protect your heart. Think fresh when you fill your plate. Go for fruits and veggies first, and then round out meals with low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and whole grains. Work out on your terms. Find an activity you enjoy. If you’re not a fan of the gym, that’s okay. Take a walk in a park, ride a bike, or try a class with friends.

#2: Cancer. Women are at risk for cancers of the skin, lungs, breasts, colon, cervix, and ovaries. If a family member has been diagnosed with cancer, be diligent about routine screenings. Smart lifestyle choices also lower your cancer risk:

Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you’re struggling to quit, seek support and ask about ways to stop using tobacco. Skip happy hour. A drink might seem a great way to unwind, but too much alcohol puts you at higher risk for cancer as well as excess pounds.

#3: Stroke. High blood pressure and blood cholesterol numbers increase your risk of stroke—the nation’s leading cause of disability. To keep your numbers out of the danger zone: Skip the salt. Excess sodium raises blood pressure. Season with spices and fresh herbs instead. Avoid processed foods and snacks that pack a salty punch. Watch the fats. Some fats—such as avocado or olive oil—are good for you, but the saturated fats found in red meat aren’t. Switch to fish or nosh on nuts for a healthy protein boost.

#4: Chronic Respiratory Diseases. Constantly dealing with respiratory problems can be a sign of a chronic lung condition, such as bronchitis or emphysema. Take steps to keep your lungs healthy. Change the filter. Investing in a good home air filter can help get rid of irritants, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. Vaccinate. Get your annual influenza shot as soon as it becomes available. To limit exposure, regularly wash your hands or apply an alcohol-based gel.

#5: Alzheimer’s Disease. Some cognitive decline occurs naturally with age, but the same chronic conditions that can hurt your heart—blood pressure and cholesterol—can also drain your brainpower. Stay in the game! Challenge your mind. Learning new skills can keep your gray matter in shape. Sign up for a crafting class, study a language, or play games that encourage creative thinking.

#6: Accidents. When you get behind the wheel, remember that motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers claim thousands of lives each year. Before you turn that key: Buckle up. It’s simple, takes a second, and could save your life. Don’t speed. Being late is better than not getting there at all. Had a couple of drinks? Call a cab or your designated driver.

#7: Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes damages how the body produces and uses insulin. The incidence is higher for African American women and those who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can reduce your likelihood of developing diabetes. 

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