The typical American woman has a life expectancy of 80.69 years. However, whether or not women make it to eighty in good shape depends largely on many factors, including how they treat their bodies in the decades before.
By Jenni Frankenberg Veal
Most women are born with a heart for caretaking. Whether a woman spends her life caring for children, a partner, parents, friends, or an animal, her core work is often about giving to others. However, caretaking can work against women when it comes to preserving their health. It is easy for them to focus on the needs of others while putting their own health care needs aside.
Recent studies suggest that in the United States nearly 60 percent of female deaths can be attributed to heart disease, cancer and stroke. With the proper health care, these leading threats to women’s health can be prevented.
Women can begin taking charge of their well-being by gaining an understanding of their risk factors—the things in their lives that increase their chances of getting a certain disease. Some risk factors are beyond their control such as family history, gender, ancestry and age. However, other risk factors can be controlled such as diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, use of illegal drugs, exposure to the sun, and seatbelt use.
This Women’s Health section offers a glimpse into several health topics that are relevant for women today. Each article begins with an overview of the topic in order to help female readers recognize their risk factor and is followed by prevention tactics to empower them to take charge of their good health.
Breast Care: U.S. women get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer. However, if the cancer is detected early, women diagnosed with breast cancer have a survival rate of 98 percent.
Menopause: Menopause is a natural event that occurs on average at age 51. It is a time of physical change, and women can expect to have both positive and negative emotional responses to this change.
Vaginal Health: All women should have regular pelvic exams beginning at age 21 as an important part of preventative health care. Pelvic exams help doctors identify certain cancers in their early stages. In addition, they can help identify infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or other reproductive system problems such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and uterine prolapse.
Osteoporosis: Statistics from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases show that women have a greater risk for osteoporosis than men. One of every two women over age 50 will likely have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime. Women can take steps to slow the natural bone loss that comes with aging and prevent their bones from becoming weak and brittle.
Heart Health: Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States and a leading cause of disability among women. Experts recommend all women know their risk level for heart disease so that they can take preventative action.
Skin Health: Young women in the United States have had significant increases in the two most common non-melanoma cancers: basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Now the same appears to be true for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It is important to make sunscreen a part of your daily skin care routine.
It is important for women to understand their health risks so that they can do what is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. Preventive measures can go a long way toward enjoying a long healthy life.