There are several forms of cancer that affect women; these include breast, ovarian, cervical and womb cancer. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer amongst women, with one in nice women affected in their lifetime.
What causes cancer?
There is no single cause of cancer but there are several factors which may increase the likelihood of suffering from cancer including smoking and drinking heavily. Cancer is caused by abnormalities in the cell division process and is usually identified by a lump.
Many cases of cancer can be treated effectively with chemotherapy and medication, but scientists are yet to find a cure for cancer. Some cases of cancer are too advanced for treatment and may subsequently be terminal. Patients that are diagnosed early are much more likely to survive as the cancer can be treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.
It is impossible to prevent cancer but there are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer; these include:
- Stopping smoking
- Stopping drinking excessively
- Exercising regularly
- Eating healthily
- Losing weight (if you are overweight)
- Wear protective sun cream in the sun (experts recommend at least factor 15)
Heart disease kills more women in the UK than any other disease, with a quarter of deaths attributed to heart disease. Women are much less likely to survive a heart attack than men.
What causes heart disease?
Heart disease can be caused by a range of different factors but your lifestyle can have huge implications for the health of your heart. Risk factors include:
- Smoking: the poisonous chemicals in cigarettes damage the arteries around the heart and lungs, making them constrict and preventing blood flow to the heart. This can often cause chest pain but it may also cause a heart attack. Smoking and taking the contraceptive pill can be particularly dangerous and the likelihood of having a heart attack is 30 times higher than those women that don’t smoke.
- Obesity: excess fat puts pressure on the internal organs and a high intake of saturated fat causes the arteries to become clogged; both of these result in heart disease and can cause heart attacks. A lack of exercise can also contribute to heart disease.
- Menopause: the risk of heart disease after the menopause is much greater because oestrogen plays an important role in the body and helps to keep the organs healthy.
- Diabetes: women with diabetes are up to 10 times more likely to develop heart disease; diabetes is commonly associated with obesity.
Symptoms of heart disease
The symptoms of heart disease include angina, heart palpitations, heart attacks and heart failure. Angina is pain in the chest, which may be mild but is often severe; angina may also cause pain in the arms, neck, jaw and back. Angina attacks are usually short, lasting a few minutes and can usually be controlled with a special medical spray. Heart attacks can be very serious and often prove fatal; common symptoms include tightening in the chest, sweating, dizziness and nausea; you should seek medical help as quickly as possible if you are suffering with the symptoms above.
Treating heart disease
There are several different treatments available depending on the nature and severity of the individual case. There is a range of different medications which are often given to patients with heart disease; often patients will take a number of different medications each day. Patients with angina are usually given a nitrate spray to use when they have an angina attack. Some patients might have a surgical procedure known as an angioplasty to open up an artery, which has been blocked or constricted; this is a relatively simple operation. For patients with more severe cases of heart disease, a combination of medications is used and more complex surgery is usually carried out; these procedures include a heart bypass or a heart transplant; these are used when other treatments have failed to work and can be very risky; a heart transplant is considered as a last resort.
Preventing heart disease
There are a number of lifestyle choices you can make that will reduce the likelihood of suffering from heart disease; these include:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet: cutting down on saturated fats and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods will improve the health of the heart.
- Reducing stress: this will help to prevent increased blood pressure
- Drinking in moderation: excessive drinking puts pressure on all the vital organs but is particularly damaging to the heart
- Stopping smoking: smoking clogs the arteries, preventing blood flow around the heart
- General health: try to improve your general health; keep an eye on your blood pressure, take any medications you have been advised to take by your GP, get active and eat well.