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What's the Problem?
A woman's age, medical and family history, environment, lifestyle choices, and other factors all impact her health. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the top three leading causes of death in females. A woman can lower her risk for these and other diseases by making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, steps to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke include eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding smoking. A woman may lower her risk for breast and cervical cancer by getting regular screenings, and she can lower her risk for lung cancer by avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke. Although some diseases cannot be prevented, early detection and treatment can help save a woman's life.
Who's at Risk?
Risk is determined by many factors. For example, where and how a woman lives and works may place her at risk for some diseases and conditions. If she has a close relative with a specific disease, it may increase her risk for getting it. What she chooses to do and not to do, such as wear a seatbelt, use sunscreen, or not smoke, can influence risk. Since so many factors are involved, risk for certain diseases and conditions may increase or decrease for all women as changes are made in how they live. It's important for a woman to know what her risks are so she can take steps to protect herself.
Can It Be Prevented?
Yes, poor health may be prevented. There are simple measures women can take to protect and improve their health. These measures include:
- Eating a nutritious diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in unhealthy fats.
- Exercising 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Avoiding use of cigarettes/cigars, chewing tobacco, and staying away from second-hand smoke.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight to avoid obesity, which increases risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.
- Getting regular exams and screenings, including those for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.
- Getting appropriate vaccinations.
- Managing stress at home and at work.
- Knowing one's health risks based on family and medical history, lifestyle choices, and other factors.
- Being safe and protecting oneself by doing such things as wearing a seatbelt, installing a smoke alarm, and washing one's hands.
- Being good to oneself-this includes getting enough sleep, relaxing, and making healthy living a priority in one's life.
The Bottom Line
A woman can help improve her health by choosing to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. When diseases cannot be prevented, early detection can increase a woman's options for treatment and her chances at living a longer, healthier life.
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