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Health Conditions Women of Color Need to Know About

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If you are a woman of color, there are certain health conditions for which you have a higher risk. This chart describes the conditions, the risk differences for women like you compared with white women, and steps you can take to minimize your risk.

Condition: Breast cancer

Increased Risk: African-American women are 1.5 to 2.2 times more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, while Hispanic women are 20 percent more likely to die from the disease as other women diagnosed at the same age and stage.

Steps to Reduce Your Risk: Get regular mammograms and follow-up care. The American Cancer Society recommends women have an annual mammogram beginning at age 40.

Visit your health care practitioner at least once a year for a clinical breast exam.

See your health care practitioner as soon as you notice any changes in your breasts. One study found that Hispanic women wait longer to receive care for breast cancer, making their disease harder to treat.

Condition: Diabetes

Increased Risk: African-American women are 100 percent more likely to develop diabetes than white women, while the rate of developing diabetes is two to four times higher among Hispanic-American, American Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander women.

Rates of blood sugar control are significantly lower and average hemoglobin A1C levels significantly higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites with diabetes.

Blacks, American Indians and Hispanics have higher death rates from diabetes. Blacks also have higher rates of serious complications from diabetes, including higher rates of kidney failure and leg amputation due to diabetes.

Steps to Reduce Your Risk: Lose weight, increase your daily physical activity level, change your diet and see your health care professional at least every three months for regular testing and evaluation. All have been shown to prevent diabetes in high-risk women.

Test your blood sugar throughout the day and adjust your diet, exercise and medication accordingly.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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