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Women's Health

Women's Top 5 Health Concerns

From heart disease to breast cancer to depression, WebMD gives you the inside info on why women are at high risk for these problems but may not know it.
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Breast Cancer continued...

Stephen F. Sener, MD, president of the American Cancer Society, recommends controlling your weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and talking to your doctor about your risk and appropriate screening for breast cancer. He also says to keep risk factors in perspective.

"Just because your mother didn't have breast cancer, it does not mean you are immune to this problem," says Sener. At the same time, it's also important to note that some women who have one or more risk factors never get breast cancer.

Osteoporosis

Hunched backs, back pain, and frailty used to be things older women had to accept before doctors knew anything more about osteoporosis. Now, there are steps women and girls can take to avoid such problems.

Osteoporosis threatens 44 million Americans, of which 68% are women, reports the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

"Osteoporosis is largely preventable," says Mark. "The behaviors that women develop in their childhood, in their adolescence, and in their early adult years really play a significant role in the development of the disease."

That's because bodies build up most of bone mass until age 30. Then new bone stops forming and the focus is on maintenance of old bone.

It is never too late to keep bones strong and avoid fractures.

"Your body will do what it can to repair bone damage, but you have to provide the tools for it, such as adequate calcium consumption and weight-bearing physical activity," says Mark.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Female sex
  • Increasing age
  • Small, thin-boned frame
  • Ethnicity. White and Asian women have the greatest risk.
  • Family history
  • Sex hormones. Infrequent menstrual cycles and estrogen loss due to menopause may increase risk.
  • Anorexia
  • Diet low in calcium and vitamin D
  • Medication use, particularly glucocorticoids or some anticonvulsants
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol

Talk to your doctor about your possible risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to prevent problems.

Depression

Depression appears to affect more women than men. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 12 million women are affected by a depressive disorder each year compared to about 6 million men.

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