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What is National Women’s Health Week?

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women-observing-national-womens-health-week Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Thinkstock

Women make up 50.8 percent of the United States population. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 156,964,212 women, compared to 151,781,326 men.

Bringing attention to women’s health is important, as several of the leading health issues for women can be prevented. The seven leading health threats for women are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, accidents, and type 2 diabetes, according to MayoClinic.com.

Taking just one health precaution can help a woman reduce her risk of several of these conditions. For example, not smoking or quitting can reduce a woman’s risk for five out of the seven health conditions: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.

That is where National Women’s Health Week comes in. This week-long event is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health in order to bring awareness and promote women’s health. Each year, there is a different theme for National Women’s Health Week. For 2012, the theme is “It’s Your Time.”

In 2012, Women’s Health Week starts on May 13th — Mother’s Day — and goes until May 19th.

One important event that occurs during National Women’s Health Week is National Women’s Checkup Day, which occurs on Monday, May 14th. This is the 10th year of National Women’s Checkup Day.

The purpose of this day is for women to get the screenings and checkups that they need to stay healthy. Examples include screenings for reproductive health, such a Pap smear and STD tests, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol tests.

Women can get involved in National Women’s Checkup Day by taking the pledge to get health checkups. You can sign the pledge on the National Women’s Checkup Day’s page.

Besides promoting checkups and screenings, National Women’s Health Week also encourages women to make healthy lifestyle choices. These include getting active and eating healthy food, as well as avoiding behaviors that can damage one’s health, such as smoking and not wearing a helmet when on a bicycle.

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