UncommonFacts_inside.jpgHeart disease, cancer, and tuberculosis are some of the most common diseases in the world. But what you may not know is that there are certain factors that make you more vulnerable to these diseases.

Female Network had a one-on-one consultation with two OB-GYNs, Dr. Agnes Estrella of the The Medical City and Dr. Chris Soriano of Delos Santos Megaclinic, and the doctors were able to share some interesting information about the feminine side of these conditions. Read on and find out some uncommon facts that you may not have known about these three common conditions.

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HEART DISEASE

Men and women are equally at risk from heart disease. Data gathered from the National Statistics Office of 2004 shows that heart disease and stroke are the top 2 leading causes of death among Filipino women.

Women who have reached menopause are at a higher risk of getting heart disease because of the lowered production of estrogen.


BREAST CANCER

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 10 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year. By 2020, this number is predicted to rise to 15 million.

The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation reports that breast cancer is the leading cancer among Filipino women (73.1 per 100,000) and the most frequent case of cancer death among Filipina women (11.9 per 100,000) is breast cancer.

[Click here to read our article "What Every Woman Should Know about Breast Cancer"]


CERVICAL CANCER

Dr. Cecilia A. Ladines-Llave, chair of the UP-PGH Cancer Institute, is one of the country’s leading authorities on cervical cancer research. In the presentation that she made in a Johns Hopkins forum on cervical cancer prevention in Bangkok, Dr. Ladines-Llave revealed that one woman dies of cervical cancer every 2 minutes, and an estimated 500,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

About 80 percent or 400,000 of these new cases are in developing countries.

Dr. Ladines-Llave further stated that compared to breast cancer, cervical cancer is much more deadly: for every four Filipino women who survive cancer of the breast, only two or three will survive cancer of the cervix.

Dr Soriano and Dr. Estrella attest to the fact that the fear of being diagnosed with cancer can sometimes hold women back from being screened for the disease. “Women are still so shy about genital area examinations,” says Dr. Estrella. “I sometimes joke that I’ve already delivered their babies so I’ve seen it all before, but they are still quite shy.”

Of course, there are things that make one naturally susceptible to cancer, like family history and obesity. But as a rule of thumb, when it comes to cancer, early detection is key.

Both Dr. Estrella and Dr. Soriano strongly recommend going for an annual pap smear once you become sexually active. Additionally, consult a doctor about getting a cervical cancer vaccine.

[Click here to read our article "What Every Woman Should Know about Cervical Cancer"]


CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Cardiovascular diseases, which affect men and woman equally, claim an estimated 17.1 million lives a year.

Countries that belong to the developing world are especially vulnerable due to limited access to information about prevention, detection, and cure. This situation is made worse by exposure to environmental health hazards like air pollution. Also, compared to the United States and countries in Europe, Asian nations still have very lax tobacco policies, which means more individuals may be exposed to second hand smoke.

According to the World Health Organization, low and middle-income countries account for about 80 percent of global deaths from cardiovascular diseases and other related conditions.


TUBERCULOSIS

According to estimates of the World Health Organization:

  • Someone in the world is newly infected with TB bacilli every second.
  • Overall, one third of the world's population is currently infected with TB.
  • 5 to 10 percent of people who are infected with TB become actively sick.
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Tuberculosis in humans is commonly seen as a lung infection or pneumonia. However, Dr. Soriano warns that TB can occur in various forms and can be present in other parts of the body like the brain, bones, intestines, kidneys, and not just the lungs, as we commonly know.

Dr. Estrella calls TB “the great mimicker” because it can present itself in a number of different ways before an accurate diagnosis. A chest x-ray or a skin test can tell whether a person has the disease, and continuous monitoring and medication can control the disease.


DIABETES

Dr. Soriano says that one of the biggest misconceptions about diabetes is that you can only get it when you eat too much sugary food. “In reality, you can also get diabetes from eating too much rice and pasta. Remember, these are carbs that, when broken down by the body, are broken down into simple sugars. Not to say that rice and carbs are bad per se. It in consumption in excessive amounts that make rice and carbs bad,” says Dr. Soriano.

Dr. Estrella mentions other culprits that may not readily be tripping our alarm but are way up on the sugar levels. Flavored coffee is very rich in sugars, as are powdered juices. “When you make a glass of juice and see all the sediments that settle at the bottom--that’s mostly sugar,” she warns.

Complications of diabetes include heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

To avoid diabetes, you should maintain a healthy weight that is suited to your height and build. Eat a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat food. Incorporate regular exercise in your fitness routine.

“Some people think that all these dieting fads are complicated. Simplify and go back to the basics. You can’t go wrong with a balanced diet, with all the basic food groups represented and at least eight glasses of water a day.” says Dr. Estrella.


OSTEOPOROSIS

According to WebMD.com, hunched backs, back pain, and frailty used to be things older women had to accept before doctors knew more about osteoporosis. As far as ethnicity is concerned, Caucasians and Asians are more at risk from this condition than other ethnic groups.

Other factors that make women prone to osteoporosis are infrequent menstrual cycles, estrogen loss due to menopause, anorexia, and excessive smoking. Alcohol can also increase the risk of getting the disease.

While your body is still able to naturally repair bone damage, adequate calcium consumption, regular exercise, and a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D will protect you against osteoporosis.


Read these articles and know how to keep yourself healthy:
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(Photo source: sxc.hu)
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