Every day seems to bring yet another new finding about women’s health. Faced with an onslaught of information on concerns ranging from breast cancer to heart disease, many women wonder if they’re doing everything possible to safeguard their health. One of the best ways to remain fit and healthy is to be well informed so that timely medical help may be sought. Because information is only as good as the knowledge and experience of the people who give it, some of the nation’s leading women doctors were asked for their advice on achieving optimum health. The following are their recommendations.
Dr Sapna Nangia, chief radiation oncologist, Fortis International Oncology Centre, Noida
Many of my patients fear cancer like the plague. They think it is the end of life. But people need to know that cancer is curable, more so if detected early. About one in 1000 women get cancer. Most women believe that breast cancer is the most prevalent one, but that’s not true. The number of cervical cancer cases is slightly higher.
Cervical cancer is found more in rural segments, where women have early pregnancies, many children and poor hygiene. Breast cancer is more prevalent in cities, where women marry late, have fewer children and breastfeed less.
We are also seeing a number of cases of gall-bladder cancer, particularly among North Indian women. It could probably be related to obesity and diet. Women aged 40 and above need to be extra vigilant about cancer. An antioxidant-rich diet of green, leafy, colourful vegetables could definitely be a shield, not only against cancer, but other diseases as well. Regular tests, breast self-examination, mammography and Pap smear tests should keep you safe.
Dr Vidya Suratkal, consultant cardiologist, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai
Although heart disease is often seen as a problem for men, more women than men die as a result of it. Cardiovascular disease is also the single largest killer of women.
The hormone estrogen serves to protect pre-menopausal women against coronary artery disease. But estrogen’s protective action gets
negated by diabetes and smoking. Post-menopausal women on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) show a reduction in the incidence of coronary arterial disease.
An unhealthy and stressful lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia [high cholesterol and triglycerides] are some of the most common factors that increase the risk in women. Taking
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