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6 top health threats to women

Fewer girls than boys are born every year in the UK. Even so females account for slightly over half of the population.

It’s because women live longer and tend to be healthier.

Life expectancy at birth in the UK has reached its highest level on record for both males and females.

A newborn baby girl can now expect to live for 82.1 years whereas a baby boy can expect to live for 78.1 years.

Women visit the doctor more regularly

The reasons women outlive men aren’t fully understood. There are many theories but nothing definitive. Women are more likely to go and see their doctor if they’re unwell. A 2012 study by the National Pharmacy Association found that women were much more likely than men to take advantage of primary care health services, including GPs and pharmacies. Women visit their GP around six times a year compared to four times for men.

Even though women do have a slight edge over men in the health stakes, it pays to take note of the risks. The top threats to women’s health aren't secrets: They're known, common and often preventable. So what are the top health threats to women and how can they be avoided?

Top causes of death for women in England.

  • Heart and circulatory disorders (38%). That’s 82,200 deaths out of 220,700 total female deaths, including ischaemic heart disease and stroke.
  • Cancer (25%) including lung, breast, bowel and cervical cancer.
  • Respiratory disorders (16%) including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma.
  • Nervous system disorders (7%) including diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s.
  • Digestive disorders (6%) including vascular disorders of the intestine and liver disease.
  • Kidney disorders (3%) including renal failure.

Six biggest risks contributing to death in women

  • High blood pressure, (17%) increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Smoking (16%) a major risk factor in lung cancer, COPD and heart disease.
  • High cholesterol (14%) another big risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Obesity (11%) risking heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cervical and breast cancer.
  • Not enough fruit and veg (8%) not eating your 5-a-day increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, oesophageal and stomach cancer.
  • Lack of exercise (6%) being physically inactive increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers including breast and bowel cancer.

These are just the top six health risks. There are many other ways women die earlier, from suicide to car accidents.

Statistics also suggest that sticking to recommended safe alcohol limits, getting enough sleep and avoiding stress could help women live longer.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on April 30, 2013

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