By Dr. Alison Buehler, Contributing Writer
All of us worry about protecting our health, but women are targeted by particular diseases in disproportionate numbers, and they may not be the ones you think. The top 5 diseases targeting women are heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and autoimmune diseases. The good news? Women are making great strides in effectively treating these conditions.
The Top 5 Diseases Targeting Women
#1: Heart Disease
This one doesn’t have to be on the top of the list, ladies. This is one disease we know how to prevent effectively. Heart disease is the number one disease for women, but it is also the number one disease we can prevent According to Harvard Health Publications, Low HDL and high triglycerides are the only factors that increase the risk of death from heart disease in women over 65.
The leading factor for heart attacks in women under the age of 65 is metabolic syndrome, which includes large waist size, elevated blood pressure, glucose intolerance, low HDL cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides. The final factor is smoking. Diet and lifestyle changes stop heart disease in its tracks!
#2: The Big C
While heart disease, lung cancer, and skin cancer pose much more common threats to women, surveys consistently show that females are more concerned with breast and cervical cancers. The debates over screening, early detection, and the best interventions are ongoing and confusing!
Rethinking Women’s Health covers harder-to-find, but effective methods of treating and living well with cancer. The good news is that treatments are advancing rapidly, and alternative methods are available. Almost all the cancer survivors I spoke with recommended the book Radical Remissions as support.
I always thought osteoporosis sounded like a benign condition as a young woman. Watching the debilitating falls, recovery from broken bones, and arthritis pain that come along with it have changed my mind as I get older.
Calcium supplements and hormone replacement therapies were common treatments in the past, but most integrative doctors agree they are not very effective. Dr. Christiane Northrup recommends a low-acid diet with foods rich in lots of mineral and vitamins, regular weight-bearing exercise, Vitamin D, and lowering your stress hormones to effectively prevent and slow osteoporosis.
Major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the CDC, and among the top five health concerns for women. Antidepressants are a first line of defense and may be necessary, but they don’t treat the underlying conditions that cause depression.
Dr. Kelly Brogan writes, “I see mental illness and I think of a gene/environment mismatch – I look to sources of inflammation and hormonal disruption, such as diet, stress, sedentary lifestyle, and toxic exposures, and I get to the root.” If you are interested in learning more about getting to root causes, I recommend Treating Depression Naturally by Joan Mathews Larson and Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon, M.D.
#5: Autoimmune Diseases
The National Institute of Health estimates that five to eight percent of Americans have an autoimmune disorder; although, they are much more common among females. Depending on the definition, I have seen rates as high as one in twelve people, and one in nine females.
Causes of autoimmune diseases are multifactoral and include genes, environmental factors, and viruses. If you want real solutions to autoimmune disorders please read Donna Jackson Nakazawa and Dr. Terry Wahls.
I met some incredible warriors who were fighting to regain their health writing Rethinking Women’s Health. I also met women whose grace and serenity in spite of disease was equally inspiring. I believe the key to wellness is to become your own health expert. Make informed decisions, rather than accepting the first answer or treatment you hear. Look for second opinions. Read everything you can get your hands on about your condition. And finally, your frame of mind matters as much as any treatment you choose.
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