A Snapshot of Women’s Health

By Steve Barrett
Monday, May 1, 2017

A vast range of personal and sociocultural factors affect women’s well-being, making women’s health a field that is in a constant state of change.

Perception Vs. Reality

Heart disease is responsible for close to 300,000 deaths annually among American women, compared with an estimated 41,000 deaths from breast cancer. However, that disparity has not fully permeated the public consciousness.

University of Missouri researchers surveyed 600 women 35 to 49 years of age about their understanding of heart disease and breast cancer risks. They found that women who are minorities and those with lower levels of education in particular tend to believe heart disease causes fewer deaths among women than breast cancer.

While praising the value of high-profile breast cancer awareness campaigns, researchers say the success of those efforts may unintentionally help create an unbalanced perception of women’s health risks. They note that exercise and nutritious diets promote both breast and heart health, and they recommend unified awareness campaigns regarding the diseases.

According to the CDC ...

  • 13% of women 18 or older are in fair or poor health.
  • 13.6% of women 18 or older smoke cigarettes.
  • 33.4% of women 20 or older have hypertension.

Surviving — Together

Isolation and loneliness are increasingly recognized as risk factors for early death. Research in the journal Cancer has found breast cancer patients face a significantly greater chance of death or recurrence if they lack social connections.

60%Increased chance of death among breast cancer patients who are isolated

40%Increased chance of recurrence among breast cancer patients who are isolated

A Tragic Rise

The rate of suicide among American women rose 45% from 1999 to 2014 — almost triple the increase among men during the same period. However, U.S. women still commit suicide at less than one-third the rate of men.

An Epidemic — and a Stigma

40% — Approximate incidence of obesity among U.S. women. Nearly half of the women who responded to one survey had delayed or canceled a medical appointment in order to lose weight first.