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Women's Health

The Lies Women Tell Their Doctors

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THE LIE: "I watch what I eat and exercise."

half_eaten_snickers_lies"I have patients who swear they're exercising and sticking to the calorie count," says Bonnie Davis, an advanced registered nurse practitioner in Largo, FL, who helps administer a weight-management program. "Yet they've put on 5 pounds while taking an appetite suppressant three times a day. That's impossible."

Meredith, 26, sticks with the purposely vague "sometimes" when asked how often she exercises. "I wouldn't feel right saying 'regularly,'" says the writer from Forest Hills, NY. "But when I say, 'Sometimes,' I consider that I walk to the subway every day, and if I'm not wearing heels, I walk fairly briskly." In other words, she's not lying outright — just bending the truth enough to spare herself the inevitable lecture. "I know that losing 10 pounds could lower my risk for heart disease and diabetes, and diabetes does run in my family," Meredith says. "But I don't want to hear it. I'd rather doctors think that I take it seriously than give them the opportunity to tell me what I already know but still am not paying attention to."

WHY YOU SHOULD COME CLEAN: If your blood pressure and cholesterol are high or you're borderline diabetic — all factors that can boost your risk for cardiovascular disease — diet and exercise can help, which is why your doctor asks about them. But if you're not really making either lifestyle change and your numbers don't get lower, your doc may put you through a battery of pricey medical tests and/or prescribe a range of medications to lower them for you. And while taking a pill may sound easier than counting calories and hitting the gym, it actually "opens up a Pandora's box of inconvenience," says Nora Tossounian, M.D., an internist at the Women's Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Start with the nuisance of remembering to take medication once or twice a day; add to that the high cost of those meds. Then there are the side effects: muscle aches on statins; bloating, cramping, and diarrhea on diabetes medications; a plunging sex drive with certain blood pressure drugs. The truth hurts less.

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