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Open any women’s magazine and you’ll find multiple articles and ads claiming diets, foods, drinks, expensive creams and other products will erase the years or improve your health or even prevent cancer. The plain truth, however, is that taking basic measures every year to protect your health has greater long-term benefits and rewards.
There are specific steps woman can take throughout their lives to “age-proof” their health, according to Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. “A woman’s life changes at every decade and so does her body,” said Bevers. “Just as a woman sets personal and work-related milestones, she also should set health goals for every stage of life.”
MD Anderson experts created a plan to help guide women along their way. “Practicing the healthy behaviors is important for all women, regardless of age,” Bevers says. “So take note of all of these tips — even the ones directed toward women older or younger than you.”
Regardless of your age, practice breast awareness. This means you should be familiar with your breasts so that they will notice any changes and report them to your doctor without delay.
Your 20s: Avoid Tanning and HPV
Say "no" to tanning salons. Tanning bed use significantly ups a woman’s odds of getting melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer), according to research. Using tanning beds regularly before age 30 increases a woman’s risk of skin cancer by 75 percent.
Reduce exposure to HPV. The human papilloma virus, or HPV, is most common among young women in their late teens and early 20s. High-risk strains of HPV are present in more than 99 percent of cervical cancer cases.
A woman’s best bet to reduce the risk of HPV infection is to:
o Limit her number of sexual partners
o Consistently practice protected sex
o Get the HPV vaccine if she’s younger than age 26
Your 30s: Add Weights and Relaxation Time
Lift some weights. Most women begin to lose muscle mass after age 30. Strength training can prevent muscle loss, build bone density and increase the rate at which the body burns calories.