Did you know that one in three women will develop cancer in her lifetime? We spent Mother’s Day focusing on important women in our lives, and now we should focus on their health. This week is National Women’s Health Week, a good time for women of all ages to make their health a priority.
The first step to living a safer, healthier life is to understand what it means to be well. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to potentially reduce your risk of cancer, or detect it early when it’s often most treatable. For women already facing a cancer diagnosis, self-education can lead to more informed decisions about the type of care you need and an improved quality of life.
To get you started, here are five tips to be a well woman:
- Get regular check-ups and screenings – Visit your doctor for an annual well-woman visit, understand your family history, and get necessary screening tests (e.g., Pap tests for cervical cancer, skin cancer screenings) or immunizations (e.g., HPV vaccine for cervical cancer) to help reduce the risk of certain cancers, or detect cancer early when it is most treatable.
- Get active – Women of all ages who get moderate-intensity physical activity for about 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of heart disease and cancer. Exercise can also help control your weight, increase your energy and improve your mood. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walk as much as you can. Read more steps to get you moving.
- Pay attention to mental health – Stress and anxiety can take a toll on your immune system. Also, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including depression. Try to manage stress, get support from others when you need it, sleep well, and take time for yourself.
- Engage in safe behaviors – Smoking causes 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women. If you’re a smoker, commit to quitting today. Try to limit alcohol intake as well, as excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. Also, practice safe sex and protect your skin from the sun.
Every woman should remember this: Your health is important and your needs are unique. Make sure to work with your health care providers so you can stay healthy and prevent diseases such as cancer. You owe it to yourself to make your health a priority not just this week but all year long.