Lifestyle behind most common women diseases

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Monday, August 25, 2014


BEFORE, the common type of diseases that are affecting women and the population in general are infectious type of diseases like malaria and dengue but now, the common type of diseases that are affecting most women are lifestyle related non-communicable diseases (NCD).

Rosemarie J. Basañes, head of the NCD cluster of the Department of Health 11, said these kind of diseases are generally caused by the way of life of men and women nowadays, be it their eating habits, physical activity, and vices, among others, hence the name lifestyle-related NCDs.

In DOH, they have identified the four major NCDs that are affecting women (and also the general population). These four are: cardio vascular diseases (CVD), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (also known as the chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), and chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD)), and diabetes mellitus.

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CVDs are a group of diseases or disorders that are affecting the heart and blood vessels. Some of the common CVDs include hypertension or high blood pressure, coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD), and cerebro-vascular disease or stroke.

Risk factors of CVDs usually revolve around the lifestyle of the person, these include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful use of or excessive intake of alcohol.

Cancer, which comes in many types of diseases, happen when the cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control, forming both new normal cells and abnormal cells. The cells will then become cancer cells because of DNA damage. In normal cells, when DNA is damaged it either repairs it or die but in cancer cells it does neither action, instead it continues to grow and make new cells. The cancer cells then spread in the different parts of the body.

Cancer is either passed on genetically or caused by poor lifestyle such as smoking, poor diet, environmental exposures, and intake of carcinogens through food or the environment, among others. In women, the most common type of cancer are cervical cancer and breast cancer.

Risk factors of cervical cancer include tobacco use, human papillomavirus infection, poor diet, and family history. While the risk factors of cervical cancer include early menarche or late menopause, age, high fat diet, obesity, physical inactivity, genetics, and alcohol consumption.

COPD is described as a "disease stare characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is both progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases." This disease is usually due to chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of COPD.

Finally diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar. There are two type of diabetes: Type 1, which is insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), and Type 2, which is non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Just like the other three, diabetes is generally caused by the poor lifestyle of na individual.

Those who are affected by the disease will experience complications such as chronic renal disease, blindness, CAD, stroke, neuropathies, and foot ulcers, among others.

"These four major NCDs, can actually be prevented if we observe the four interventions that the agency is advocating. These are Physical Activity, Proper Nutrition, Smoking Cessation, and No Alcohol Drinking," Basañes said.

She said career or working women who are in the office eight hours a day and simply stay on their desks for the whole day are have the risk of acquiring the four major NCDs.

"We need movement since our body is designed for motion," Basañes said, adding that there is a need for women to move regularly. Women are recommended to have a regular physical activity of at least thirty minutes a day, three times a week. This can be done by simply taking a walk or a swim in the pool.

This does not necessarily mean that they have to go or be a member of a gym or fitness studio, they can practice physical activity even at work for example instead of asking someone to deliver a letter to the next office, they can do it themselves. In their daily life, instead of using the elevator or stairs, they can opt to use the stairs, which Basañes says is a good exercise.

However, she stressed that they should not overwork their bodies if they are doing physical activities.

Basañes said moving around and having a regular physical activity will help burn the calories and fats stored in our bodies. And when we set, this will release the toxins in our bodies.

It is also important for women to practice proper nutrition to prevent these NCDs.

"We just need to know how to compute our calories intake," Basañes said, pointing out that this is one of the few things women can do to paractice proper nutrition.

She pointed out that it is important to know how much protein, carbohydrates, and fats are also being eaten.

To know these, it is important to also know one's body mass index (BMI).

She said once they know how to do this, they are able to plan their meals accordingly. Those who learn on how much food to take will also be able to know how to portion their food. They can ask nutritionists or dieticians to help them do this.

Basañes suggested that when eating, women should consider the following criteria for the food they eat: low salt, low fat, low sugar, high in fiber, and lots of vegetables. She also pointed out that to limit fruit intake since fruits still have glucose in them and if eaten excessively may cause high blood sugar.

The third intervention, is smoking cessation or to quit or not smoke. She said the smokers are not the only ones who are affected by smoking but also those who have contact with second and third hand smoke.

Finally, the last intervention is no alcohol drinking. Basañes said it is fine if the intake of alcohol drinks is just minimal since our body still needs it but excessive intake of alcohol can damage the body like the liver and the kidney.

"This (four interventions) is what we are emphasizing [to the women in preventing NCDs and living a healthy lifestyle]. If she follows these interventions she will live a happy and longer life," Basañes said.

She also pointed out that self discipline is important in achieving these four interventions.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 26, 2014.

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