Special Report

50 Health Tips Every Woman Should Know

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16. Get genetic testing done if you can

Tests for inherited genetic mutations may be helpful to women as they can provide information on what they can do to minimize the risk of developing certain cancers such as breast and ovarian, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, genetic testing is a controversial topic in the medical community. Earlier this year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said primary care providers should screen women who have family members with breast, ovarian, tubal, or peritoneal cancer. Those with positive results should get genetic counseling for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. These genes produce tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA. When one or both genes are mutated or somehow changed, the protein does not function correctly and the DNA damage may not be repaired, which may eventually lead to cancer. These are the common cancers in women.

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17. Check your thyroid

The thyroid, a gland 2 inches in size, helps to regulate the metabolism. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid problems. Women who have an untreated thyroid disease may be at an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and infertility, according to the American Thyroid Association. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which results in low levels of the hormone, are fatigue, weight gain, light-headedness, cold hands, and dry skin. Pregnant women with undiagnosed or untreated hypothyroidism are at higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and developmental problems in their children. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are somewhat the opposite and include weight loss, trouble sleeping, and irritability. Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention. Dysfunctional thyroid is serious. It is one of 20 things that can lead to memory loss.

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18. Don’t skip breakfast

The American Heart Association says some studies show that people who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to be obese, have diabetes, use tobacco, not exercise regularly, not get the recommended amount of nutrients, and eat more sugar during the rest of the day. The association suggests having muffins with healthful ingredients; starting your day with oatmeal; taking a smoothie containing your favorite fruits, vegetables, yogurt, or low-fat milk; or putting low-fat cottage cheese or nut butter on a whole-grain waffle.

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19. Eat a lot of foods with vitamin C

Your skin contains high amounts of vitamin C, and it’s important for women to eat food rich in vitamin C. That vitamin supports functions such as generating collagen synthesis, which helps the body produce antioxidant protection against ultraviolet-caused damage. Production of collagen, which is basically what keep the skin healthy and glowing, decreases with age, which is why the skin gets wrinkles. Eating fruit and vegetables is connected with good health, and getting more vitamin C helps heal wounds and reduces formation of scar tissue.

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20. Sleep more

British sleep science researcher Dr. Jim Horne says women need 20 minutes of sleep a night more than men because they muti-task more than men and use their brain more. And the more you use your brain, the more sleep you need. Insufficient sleep, which has been linked to diabetes, heart problems, obesity, and depression, increases mortality risk, according to Dr. Mayank Shukla, a sleep medicine specialist in New York. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends you get more exercise, get into a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up, and limit your caffeine and alcohol. These are just some of the tips for a better night’s sleep.