Even though women tend to live longer than men, there are certain diseases and illnesses that affect women more often than they affect men. Examples include mental health issues and sexual health problems, but many more age-related illnesses affect more women than men.
Age-related illnesses are those illnesses and diseases that are more likely to occur as we age. Unfortunately, many common age-related illnesses disproportionately affect more women. Here’s an example of six diseases women are more likely to develop in later life.
#1: Breast Cancer
Many may assume that only women can get breast cancer, but it can actually affect men too. However, it more often affects women than men, and it’s the second most common type of cancer found in women after skin cancer.
Unfortunately, some women are more at risk of developing breast cancer than others due to their genetics. Still, healthy lifestyle habits can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly, and abstain from smoking cigarettes. Also, all women should conduct monthly self-examinations, and women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram every year.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases that affect memory and judgment, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most well-known and the most common form of dementia. More than half of all people living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
Like breast cancer, genetics play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Still, living a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy and exercising) has a positive effect on brain health. It may also help to keep the brain active by doing activities like crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles.
#3: Heart Disease
Heart disease is a huge problem for both women and men. Heart disease is caused by a variety of factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Heart disease leads to many health issues, including heart attacks.
The best way to prevent heart disease is by living a healthy lifestyle. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are both caused by a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits. This is why it’s important for women to stay active and eat healthy.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become more fragile. This disease, also known as “brittle bone disease”, notoriously affects more women than men. The reason is that after women go through menopause, the decrease in estrogen levels affects the bones. This fragility may also be why more elder abuse victims are women (70% of all elder abuse victims), with elder abuse occurring in nursing homes and even in the elder’s own home.
Women can combat the onset, as well as lessen the effects, of osteoporosis by increasing their calcium intake. When increasing calcium intake (with the approval of your doctor) it’s also important to increase vitamin D intake to help absorb the calcium and vitamin K intake to prevent the buildup of calcium.
Strokes, when blood flow to the brain becomes restricted, also affect more women than men. One reason may be that women who have had preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) are also more likely to suffer from a stroke.
High blood pressure in general (and high cholesterol) contributes to a stroke, so a healthy lifestyle can help decrease the risk. The two major warning signs of a stroke include impaired speech and numbness in the arms.
#6: Type 2 Diabetes
Women with type 2 diabetes are four times more likely to develop heart disease than men with type 2 diabetes. Some women (around 3%) also experience gestational diabetes when they’re pregnant— which can also cause more problems during pregnancy.
The best way for women to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes (and gestational diabetes) is to maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and exercising regularly. As mentioned above, being diabetic can cause heart disease, and it can also cause kidney disease and depression— something that is also more common in women.
The common theme with preventing/lessening your chances of developing or managing these diseases that affect women more than men is a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to eat a nutrient-rich diet (whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables) and to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week.