In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a report of the top causes of death for women, which also happen to be the top 10 women’s health issues. You can help limit the impact of these threats on your health if you know how.
The CDC’s most current (2013) top 10 health issues for women are:
1. Heart Disease
2. Cancer (Breast, Lung and Colon cancer lead this category)
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
6. Unintended Injury
7. Diabetes (higher risk in African American, Native American, Asian and Hispanic women)
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
9. Kidney Disease
10. Intentional Self Harm (Suicide)
While there are many factors that impact our health, it is empowering—and at times scary—to realize that we have significant control over many of these factors. If we get serious about our health, we can decrease the likelihood of developing these medical conditions, and also improve our ability to manage them long term.
The following seven steps make a simple recipe for improving health in our current world:
1. Regular exercise. Many studies believe this is the single best thing you can do for your health, and may even be more important than a healthy weight.
2. Don’t smoke. If you do, stop or cut down as much as possible. The final verdict is still out regarding electronic cigarettes. Smoking cessation is still the best.
3. Limit alcohol, and practice moderation of use.
4. Keep a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio. Maintain a healthy weight for your height and activity level.
5. Enjoy life in a responsible way. Avoid putting yourself and others in the way of unnecessary harm.
6. Be proactive with your health care by visiting your Primary Care Provider (PCP) and OB/GYN annually. Stay up to date on colonoscopies, mammograms, and Pap smears for routine colon, breast, and cervical cancer screening. Receive a flu shot annually and pneumonia and shingle shots when appropriate.
7. Know your body, and listen when it tells you that something is not right. Seek medical attention at that time.
Talk with your doctor about your risk factors, how to best manage your chronic conditions, and improve your long-term health. Set good examples for your children and younger generations to follow, as well. Focus your efforts now so that you may reap the rewards of improved health and longevity in the future. It is never too early, or too late, to focus on your health—for yourself, for your family, and for your friends.
Dr. Katherine Miles is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, practicing at Northwest OB/GYN and she graduated from the University of Washington, School of Medicine in 2006. She completed residency at the University of Rochester in New York in 2010.