Dang it. Just when we’re almost ready to say ADIOS, AUNT FLO! we encounter an entirely new, sometimes foreboding landscape facing our health.
Ladies, let’s pay attention to our changing health needs as we march forward (like the fierce warriors we have grown to be) on this sometimes perilous road in our journey.
Breast Cancer Risks
Did you know a woman’s statistical risk for breast cancer in her lifetime is 12.4% or a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed?
Surprised? Yep, most people are. In terms of risk, those numbers are on your side. (please note that I am not trying to diminish the ravages of this disease, merely to allow us perspective)
These are the latest statistical risks throughout our ages:
- Age 30 . . . . . . 0.44 percent (or 1 in 227)
- Age 40 . . . . . . 1.47 percent (or 1 in 68)
- Age 50 . . . . . . 2.38 percent (or 1 in 42)
- Age 60 . . . . . . 3.56 percent (or 1 in 28)
- Age 70 . . . . . . 3.82 percent (or 1 in 26)
There are many other contributing factors that increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, but overall, these are the averages. I gotta tell you, I was stunned when I saw the numbers; the risk is low. I will also counter with that as a woman who has had melanoma, sometimes the risks don’t run in your favor. Less than 5% of all skin cancers diagnosed in the United States each year are melanoma, but I got one. Had I disregarded the low risk averages (although, I fell into many of the “higher” risk groups, like many do for breast cancer), had I assumed I wouldn’t fall into the category of the diagnosed and ignored my health, I might not be here today.
As you can see, one of the strongest risks for breast cancer is age.
Just as we muddle our way through perimenopause on the way towards menopause, our chances of breast cancer go up, not down. It’s a point worth remembering, my fellow warriors.
Did you know that a woman’s risk for heart disease in her lifetime is 1 in 4?
This portion of the post may be harder to accept, because our society isn’t as vocal when it comes to women and heart disease, but what follows is important information vital to your health and well-being.
When I read that statistic, I took in a deep breath. Five times as many as breast cancer?! Can that be possible? The simple math is this: about 40,000 deaths from breast cancer. against 200,000 deaths from heart disease. It’s astonishing.
For me, the takeaway was this: yes, my breast health is important in these years as I age and I will continue to do all I can to be self-aware, as well as medically cautious, but maybe I better take a closer look at my heart health as well.
The sucky part in all of this (there’s more suckiness?!) is that the research isn’t as common for women’s heart health as it is for men’s, so we’re still learning new information each year.
One thing that seems to be agreed upon is that it’s not perimenopause or menopause per se that causes heart disease, but it’s during the time of perimenopause and menopause itself that the chickens of poor health habits come home to roost, meaning that the road leading to menopause may have been filled with bad diets, no exercise and more drinking than is healthy, thereby being the cause of heart issues later in life. But that is just part of what is known.
A decline in the natural hormone estrogen may be a factor in heart disease increase among post-menopausal women. Estrogen is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of artery wall, helping to keep blood vessels flexible. That means they can relax and expand to accommodate blood flow.
So what’s a hormonally unbalanced gal to do?
Proactive Warrior Cheat Sheet
* Exercise. This includes the strength training that we’ve already covered. Try to do something every day. Take a walk. Run. Bike. Take a yoga class. Lift. Stretch. MOVE!
* Know your blood pressure and strive for control. 120/80 is good. Anything over 140/90 and you should check with your doc. Also, that exercise you’re doing? It’s a big help towards controlling your blood pressure. Keep doing it.
* Avoid excessive alcohol. I wrote THIS POST a year or so back that talks about a study involving drinking and breast cancer survival rates, but do your research and talk to your doc. Studies are all fine and good until you don’t fall within the parameters. Do your homework.
* Maintain a healthy weight.
* Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, control it.
* Find out your cholesterol and triglycerides levels. If too high, research ways to gain control.
* NO SMOKING.
* Go to bed…to sleep! Or, you know. Sleeping, getting enough rest (or you know…winkitty wink), is key in helping your body repair itself from the day. It’s good for your overall health.
* Eat as clean as possible, which translates to foods that are actually foods. Fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts, and grains, if you can stand them. If you must eat corn dogs (I MUST!) then save them for a rare treat.
* Pray. Or meditate. This is one constant that keeps the unruly anxiety of perimenopause in check for me. Wherever I am, however I am feeling, I can pray. Or meditate. I also find it immensely helpful to take deep controlled breaths in and slow releases out, when stressed. This not only has a soothing mental effect, but also causes much needed oxygen to flood my body, which is a natural spirit lifter.
Of course, before drastically changing your life, check in with your trusted doc.
I will confess that before I started my perimenopause journey, I simply looked forward to the freedom that would come with no mo flo; I had no idea how diligent I’d have to be about my health in exchange for that freedom.
Yet, it’s what we do, ladies; we fight for the good stuff in life. You’re the good stuff.
Perimenopause is proving to be a bigger challenge than I had bargained for, yet, I’ve got this; you’ve got this. Knowledge is power, and…
…perimenopause can still suck it.
* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.
~If you have the heart, please consider sharing on social media. Smooches!~