A leading killer of men and women, this condition is responsible for about 29 percent of deaths in women (according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention). That's largely because signs and symptoms of the disease go misdiagnosed in female patients (research is starting to show women develop the disease differently than men). What puts a woman at risk? Obesity, stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inactivity. Left untreated, the disease can lead to heart attack and stroke.
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Responsible for about 1 percent of deaths in women worldwide, breast cancer is a serious issue that affects every woman. Recent research shows that while doctors are getting better at treating the disease, incidence rates are on the rise. That's largely due to lifestyle factors. Today, women are getting married later, having children later (if they have them at all), and are more overweight, stressed out, and generally more inactive than their mothers were (when breast cancer rates were still quite low).
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Affecting 10 percent of women of reproductive age, this condition causes small cysts to form on the ovaries during ovulation. These cysts may be nothing more than a nuisance, causing side pains every now and then, or they may become infected and rupture, possibly damaging a woman's uterus and, thereby, her fertility. Women with PCOS are also more prone to weight gain, abnormal periods, acne, and excess hair growth.
While this disease can affect both men and women, it disproportionately threatens the health of females. Largely preventable, it affects the strength and resiliency of the bones, which can lead to fractures and bone breaks later on in life. Other risk factors include age, having a wiry frame, ethnicity (Caucasian and Asians have the highest risk of developing the disease), eating a diet that's low in calcium or vitamin D, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.
This disease affects women about 50 percent more than men, largely because of hormonal changes (for example, postpartum depression that develops post-pregnancy), or lifestyle factors (feeling disconnected from loved ones, a family history of the disease, or substance abuse). It also can be triggered by a stressful life event, a history of childhood abuse, or neglect.
More on women's health conditions