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THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S HEALTH CHECKLIST FOR 2011

Black women are facing an uphill battle in the fight for good health.  Traditionally, cultural and genetic factors predispose us to medical conditions that don’t majorly affect other minorities.  Social factors such as the absence of affordable health care, lack of education and insufficient knowledge of information and resources continue to make us victims instead of survivors. Our families, friends and the world around us need us healthy so that we can stay fabulous, inspire change and continue to stay the sources of strength within our culture. Be pro-active in the fight for your life and know your risk. Below is a list of top 7 diseases that kill African women

7. Cervical Cancer

African women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as white women.  Cervical cancer occurs when cancerous cells are found in cervical tissues.  It is caused by several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is extremely common and transmitted through unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex.  It is important to know that some forms of HPV often go undetected and clear up on their own.  Other strains cause genital warts in both males and females, and the most dangerous strains are responsible for cervical cancer.

6.  Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast tissue begin to grow rapidly in an uncontrolled manner.  These cells may form tumors that can be detected early with a mammogram.  The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more options a woman has in terms of treatment and the more chances she has at surviving the cancer.Unfortunately, African women are more likely than all other races to die from breast cancer.  When breast cancer is found in African women, it is often at a more advanced stage when options for treatment are limited.  Several factors are responsible for the failure to detect breast abnormalities including the inability to afford health care, failure to follow-up on abnormal test results, the belief that mammograms are unnecessary, and not being informed of family medical history.

5.  High Blood Pressure

As black women we have to be careful not to be prisoners of pressure.  Daily we find ourselves stressed by the expectations we sometimes place on ourselves to be successful, loved, beautiful, intelligent, financially responsible, and compassionate.  With all of that stress, it important that we take time to relax and not become victims of another silent, symptom-less danger: high blood pressure.

Blood pressure (also called hypertension) occurs when the pressure of the blood against artery walls when it is pumped out by the heart stays high over time.  This blood’s inability to flow properly can put intense strain on the vessels and heart possibly leading to a stroke or kidney problems.Factors that can contribute to hypertension are alcohol use, being overweight, smoking, family history and obesity.  Hypertension can be controlled with medication but certain behaviors including exercise, maintaining a proper diet and the avoidance of drugs and alcohol can help you avoid ever having to deal with it at all.  Most of all: relax, relate and release.

4.  Diabetes

“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”  Unfortunately this isn’t a good thing in terms of diabetes.  Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin.  Insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps sugar in our blood get into the cells of our bodies.  When insulin doesn’t work properly or isn’t produced in the right amounts, the sugar remains in our blood raising our blood sugar.

Many factors beyond our control contribute to the risk such as age, race and family history.  Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet of variety including different vegetables and fruits, and making physical activity a regular part of your day can help decrease your risk.  Research if diabetes has a place in your family medical history and get your blood sugar levels tested regularly if you find that you are at a high risk.  There is no cure for diabetes, but several testing products are available on the market that can make living with the disease less painful.

3.  Obesity

One of the most beautiful things about black women is the fact that we come in all shades and sizes.  Most recently, a trend has risen in the purchase of butt implants and enhancements and other devices and procedures to give other women a chance at the curvy voluptuous figures that many of us were naturally blessed with.  But when does being cute and curvy come dangerously close to overweight and unhealthy?

Black women have some of the highest rates of obesity when compared to women of other races.  About 4 out of 5 black women are overweight and obese.  Obesity can lead to many of the other health problems discussed in this article.Obesity is commonly measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI) which basically charts what weight is proportional to your height.  Basically, the shorter you are, the less weight you can healthily carry.  Women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight.  Muscle mass can also play a factor, so for a correct reading you should consult a physician.  If you are overweight consider making small changes in your lifestyle to help lose weight.  If possible walk to destinations whenever you can instead of taking the bus or driving.  Choose one night to cook certain fried dishes and then choose healthier options for the rest of the week.  Games such as the Wii Fit help make physical activity accessible within the home.

2.  HIV/AIDS

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.  It is a virus that is contracted primarily through unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex, but also through any other behavior that involves the exchange of the bodily fluids of blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk in which the virus is present.  HIV attacks the body’s immune system and over time can develop into AIDS which compromises the body’s ability to fight infection.  In 2006 the rate of new HIV infection for black women was 15 times as high as that of white women and 4 times as high as that of Latina women.

HIV is not a death sentence.  Through advancements in medicine, people are living full and fruitful lives after being diagnosed with HIV, but it is a battle that many women can easily avoid having to fight.  Communicating with sexual partners about sexual history and barrier methods such as condoms and latex dams brings you one step closer to avoiding the virus.  Using these methods correctly and consistently is the next step and getting tested regularly if you are sexually active helps notify you of your status to help you prevent spreading the virus to others.

1. Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.   It affects the blood vessels of the heart and can cause a heart attack.  Symptoms of a heart attack include chest discomfort with pressure or squeezing, nausea, dizziness.

African women are more likely than all other races to be victims of heart disease due to poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, and smoking.  African woman are also less likely to have regular check-ups due to many factors such as receiving misinformation, a lack of trust in the healthcare system and not being able to afford medical coverage.The important thing is that we can all be pro-active in keeping our hearts healthy.  Eating foods such as lean meats and dairy products, fruits vegetables and grains keep our hearts happy and healthy.  Knowing cholesterol levels and engaging in regular physical activity also help.  It’s important for us especially to keep our hearts healthy because we possess some of the biggest ones with the most to give.

Dont wait until you are 50 before you start to take good care of yourself. Great health at 50 Starts now!!!

Reference and Photo credit : Madame Noire

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This is a health and wellness blog aimed at targeting Africans all over the Globe. Interested in educating yourself about certain health issues?..Then please take a walk with me...destination---> Wellness

4 thoughts on “THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S HEALTH CHECKLIST FOR 2011

  1. WOW!!! Thank you Madame Noire. Yes, we do possess some of the biggest hearts with the most to give. Looking at the list above one can’t help but wonder with right information and continuous support, how much of this list can dissappear from our community. Such support exist already in our community through a group known as Holistic Health Coaches of Color. This is a highly knowledgable group formed of graduates and current students from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Many are members of the American Associated of Drugless Practitioners, who have come together to support each others and those in our community seeking a change in their quality of life. These certified individuals offer education and supportive coaching for you, while working with your medical practitioner, if desired, to maximize your healthcare dollar. There are IIN graduates worldwide, trained like-minded individuals,ready to share what they know, so you are better equipped with knowledge necessary to make decisions right for you.

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