When was the last time you went to the doctor’s office for a check up and not because something was wrong? Of all minority groups, African-Americans have the most, and many times the largest, differences in health risks when compared to other minority groups, especially when it comes to PREVENTIVE CARE. We have more of a predisposition to disease, disability, and early death than our counterparts. The illnesses and diseases listed below are among the top health concerns facing African-American women. Many of these problems are chronic, which means they last a long time, sometimes forever. Some of them can actually be prevented:
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
- Colorectal Cancer
- High Cholesterol
Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. Think about it. If there is an issue, you can identify it early, and your chances for treatment and cure are better. When you get the proper health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. You DO want to be around to see your children graduate from high school/college, don’t you? I’m sure you want to meet your grandchildren someday, perhaps?
Your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e. what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke), and other important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare. For instance, problems like breast and cervical cancers can be found early, when they are most treatable. None of us are exempt…none of us! We all have the chance to prevent or delay diseases like diabetes, if we are proactive. I do know that generations of racism and poverty also play a part. That’s a part of our HISTORY – as well as the lack of trust in the medical system (i.e. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment), cultural differences, problems accessing care, and a lack of knowledge about the importance of tests to screen for major health problems.
Whatever the reasons for this health gap, we can take charge of our personal health and seek the health care we need. Knowing your risks gives you power. I’m thinking that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act AKA “Obamacare” will lessen these disparities. Hopefully, by reading this, you’ll be empowered and know what tests to ask your doctor about for yourself, your daughter, or your mother. You deserve it! Health is wealth!
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