x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Women’s health demands attention

Amid family and work responsibilities, it is imperative for women to take the necessary time for their health and wellbeing.

Anyone who travels by air has heard the advice, among the preflight safety notices: “Secure your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others”. The illustration usually shows a man or woman wearing a mask, helping a child get one on.

To help others effectively, in other words, you sometimes have to take care of yourself first.

The same idea applies more generally to the whole field of women’s health. To be sure, not all women are parents or caregivers. But in the UAE as around the world, it is often true that for a variety of reasons, women can put family and/or work responsibilities ahead of their own well-being. This can be self-defeating.

In the UAE, a study published before International Women’s Day last March found that three in five women between the ages of 41 and 50 tend to put their family’s health before their own – and that half of these women are in average or poor health. Worse, doctors say there is a notable rise in diseases and disorders among women over the age of 40, including lifestyle diseases and some types of cancer.

Of course everyone needs to pay attention to their health, but experts say women may need more reminding of this than men.

And so, as The National reported yesterday, doctors are urging women to pay more attention to their own health, especially by having regular check-ups and screenings that can reveal risks and prevent any health complications that could show up with age.

Regular screenings for breast, cervical, ovarian and endometrial and colon cancers are very important for all women. Early detection allows conservative early management of any ailment, clearly preferable to more invasive treatment of a more advanced disease later.

Maintaining a healthy diet and getting exercise are also important for women, especially after age 35, to help ward off obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. Osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency are common in this region, and must also be guarded against.

Managing time is a challenge for most people, not least for women who have parental responsibilities and/or face pressure to excel in their careers. But to meet goals and accomplish anything, everyone needs to start with vigilance about health.