As the average age of menopause for U.S. women is 51, women entering their 40s can experience a variety of changes before even reaching this milestone. During this perimenopausal stage, many health risks can become factors if a healthy diet and exercise program isn’t put into place. Here are 10 of the biggest risks for women that are in their 40s.
Because a woman’s body begins producing less estrogen as she nears menopause, she becomes more at risk of getting the bone, thinning disease called, Osteoporosis. Along with eating right and exercising, make certain that you are getting the proper amount of calcium in your diet. Do your research and consult your doctor to find out if you’ll need any additional supplements or medications.
Cardiovascular disease is usually linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As a woman gets older, her metabolism slows down and weight shifts usually from hips and thighs to abdomen, chest, arms, and shoulders.
Exercise can help with maintaining a healthy weight as well as a proper diet, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and more water. All of this can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, too.
Doctors recommend that women 45 and over be screened for diabetes every three years, and more often and earlier if you’re overweight, or if diabetes run in the family.
The risk of Type II diabetes has increased with women in their 40s due to a substantial amount of weight gain. Eating balanced meals consisting of whole foods, high in nutrients and vitamins can help with maintaining a proper body mass index (BMI), and therefore reduce the risk of diabetes.
Having a stroke is the third cause of death here in the U.S. among women, and is rising among young women. In fact, according to Doctor Oz, a young woman having a stroke has increased drastically up to 40%. High blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, and having a family history of strokes are the most common risks tied to strokes.
Healthy eating and exercising are great ways to reducing these risks.
It is extremely important that all women between the ages of 40 and 49 have an annual mammogram to help detect breast cancer at an early stage, and even more important for women who have breast cancer as a family genetic trait.
Breast cancer has risen among women especially between the ages of 45 and 55 due to the increase of hormone replacements. Women who are taking hormone replacements during their perimenopausal and menopausal stages are encouraged to get regular mammograms.
As the exact cause of Thyroid cancer is unknown, women between 40 and 50, however, are at a much higher risk of getting this disease.
Eating foods high in iodine as well as a balanced diet and exercise are great ways to reducing the risks for any thyroid related condition.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
This disease, usually accompanied with chronic bronchitis or emphysemia, is only a high risk for women in their 40s who smoke, or who are at an extreme exposure to second-hand smoke. To reduce the risk of COPD, quit smoking and do avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
As quitting smoking can be a challenge, it is important you do try. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a sudden lifestyle change such as quitting smoking and staying more active can slow the progress of this disease.
Chronic Pain (Osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects hands and weight-bearing joints such as hips, feet, knees, and the back. Once diagnosed, this disease cannot be cured but it can be managed.
Due to the decrease of estrogen during the perimenopausal and menopausal stages, more women ages 40 to 55 are at a higher risk. Proper diet, exercise, and calcium supplements can drastically reduce the risks of getting osteoarthritis.
The number of digestive issues and digestive related problems like, GERD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Celiac Disease, just to name a few, are much higher of becoming a problem among women in their 40s and who are experiencing perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms.
Digestive problems can be minor issues such as bloating to more chronic issues like ulcers. Watching what one eats and promoting a healthy lifestyle can lessen the effects to some extent. Taking hormone replacements and eliminating stress are other ways to manage menopausal related digestive problems.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression disorders are ranked the highest risks of women in their 40s, not only due to the many mid-life issues women in their 40s face like caring for family, aging parents, lay-off’s, and stifled careers, but due to the decreased levels of estrogen during the perimenopausal and menopausal stages of a woman’s life.
According to Peter Schmidt, MD, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health, “when estrogen and progesterone levels start to decrease – is actually considered riskier for mental health problems”, and “that hormonal fluctuations may increase a woman’s vulnerability to depression”.
Alleviating as much stress as possible is one way to reduce the risks of many diseases. Do always consult a medical professional for further risk-reducing methods.