Cancer Advocate Paula Zahn explains why women need to make health advocacy a priority in their lives.
You know it’s, I think it’s such a tough time for women today because study after study has proven that some female diseases have simply not gotten the attention of some of the diseases men confront. Most people don’t understand what a killer heart disease is in women.
I think some diseases have lobbied much stronger and effectively than others when it comes to women’s health. But I think, I think heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, I couldn’t rank them in any particular order. Scientists do that all the time about what the likelihood is of any of us getting them, but they are all linked.
And I think that we as women have to train ourselves to become our most fierce advocates because no one else is going to do it for us. And the problem is that so many women in America are caretakers and maybe even enablers in their own life, and they are so worried about everybody else in their lives. We all are members of the sandwich generations. We are taking care of aging parents. We have children with their own health issues, and so the last thing that gets attention is our own health, and that is a big mistake.
So I personally don’t like to rank these diseases in order of what, how I think women should look at them. I think they are all killers, and the sad thing about osteoporosis is it’s very preventable, and there are some very simple steps that women can take. I mean, it’s shocking to me--one in two women will get osteoporosis in their lifetime, one in four men.
Ten million Americans walking around with that right now. Some Americans don’t even know they have it. That shouldn’t be the case. These numbers are alarming, and we know from resources like the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there are places you can go to get very simple guidelines, and the things you can do in your own life to make sure you are charting your health and to make sure that you are your own advocate.
But to me, there is no excuse that we aren’t doing a better job of confronting illnesses that could be prevented when we could just make simple changes in our lifestyle. And I know that, I am on the Board of the Yale Cancer, or the Board of Advisors of the Yale Cancer Center and involved with a lot of cancer advocacy work, and oncologist after oncologist will tell you the numbers vary, from scientist to scientist, but the majority of cancers could be prevented.
Okay, how? Quit smoking. Don’t drink excessively. Watch the fat intake. Have enough vegetables and fruit in your diet. Exercise. These are all simple, simple messages that we are either not getting out to the public, or we don’t want to hear them, and doctors tell me it’s a combination of the two.
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