When was the last time you had your cholesterol checked? Went for a mammogram? Or did a skin self-exam? This month, take charge of your health by ticking these six checks off your list.
In 2013, breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women and the second most diagnosed cancer in the country. This year, it's estimated that 18,235 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed. So, what can you do to lower your risk? Early detection is key to beating this disease and because 75% of breast cancers occur in women over 50, Cancer Council Australia encourages all women aged 50 to 74 years to have a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia. During March The BreastScreen NSW mobile van unit is visiting Bondi Beach from Monday March 5 till Friday March 16. Their permanent clinic is conveniently located in David Jones Elizabeth St Store Level 3.
What about high risk individuals?
If there's a history of breast cancer in your family, or you've had the disease before, speak to your doctor about when you'll need to start breast cancer screening and how often you'll need to be screened. The good news is that BreastScreen Australia offers free mammograms to all women over 40.
2. Cervical screening test
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers and just recently became even easier to test, thanks to an Australian Department of Health decision to replace the two-yearly Pap test with a five-yearly* Cervical Screening Test. The new test, due two years after your last Pap test, has a testing age of 18 to 69 (slightly younger than that of the Pap test which applied to women aged 25 to 74), and is expected to protect up to 30% more women.
What if you've had the HPV vaccine?
Unfortunately, neither of the two HPV vaccines registered for use in Australia protects against all of the cancer-causing strains of HPV, so it's important that you're still tested regularly.
*If the result returned is normal.
3. Blood pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension (also dubbed the 'silent killer' because of its lack of symptoms) is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. And, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2014/15, an astounding 34% of Australians aged 18 and over suffer from high blood pressure (over 140/90mmHg). These statistics were confirmed in 2017 by a Stroke Foundation initiative, Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check, which tested over 60 000 Australians and recorded 38% of men and 26% of women with high blood pressure. To get your blood pressure checked, pop into your local pharmacy or book an appointment with your doctor.
4. Skin self-check
According to Cancer Council Australia, "Approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70." What's more, skin cancer accounts for over 80% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia each year. How can you keep yourself protected? Aside from following its sun safety guidelines, which include slipping on sun-protective clothing, slopping on a broad screen SPF30+ sunscreen and slapping on a hat, Cancer Council Australia also advises that become familiar with your skin, including skin not normally exposed to the sun, and that you consult a doctor if you notice any change in the shape, colour or size of an existing lesion, or the development of a new lesion on your skin.
High cholesterol is a serious risk factor for heart disease, so it's important that you check yours regularly. Adults with an average risk of developing heart disease should test their cholesterol every five years from the age of 18, while those with abnormal test results and a higher risk profile for heart disease should test more often. Risk factors for heart disease include: family history, ethnicity, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, diabetes, high blood pressure, a high fat diet and age.
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia according to Diabetes Australia. Perhaps even more concerning, is the fact that Type 2 diabetes, which is directly related to lifestyle choices like physical inactivity and poor diet, accounts for a massive 85% of all diabetes. Using this calculator is a quick and easy way to determine your risk profile and establish whether you need to contact your doctor to discuss diabetes testing.
But it doesn't end there…
While it's important to tick these medical checks off your list, it's just as important that you take care of your overall wellness – and that's where Elixr can help.
Regular exercise helps combat several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and is key to maintaining a healthy weight and boosting your energy and mood.
Elixr Personal Trainers are some of the best in the industry and have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve the health and fitness results you want. You'll find all the information you need here.
Are you managing to squeeze three well balanced meals into your daily schedule? Or are you eating more than just a few on the go?
Between work, life and family, there isn't always enough time to make sure your body is getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs. What's more, as a woman, you're vulnerable to experiencing low levels of iron (thanks to your menstrual cycle), which can leave you feeling lethargic and bring on symptoms like headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath.