Apr 30

We Believe Things Because We’re Scared. Breast Cancer Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest Concern.

“Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant and someone at the table next to you collapses on the floor with a heart attack.  You call 911 and immediately start CPR but in vain.  The paramedics cover the body with a tablecloth and you drive home silently thinking of the suddenness of it all. 

In your mind, reading that paragraph, did you picture the victim as a man or a woman?”

Most people picture a man but statistically, it was a woman who collapsed and died at the next table.  Heart disease kills more women than men.  Heart disease, for all of the images of a man clutching his chest, is a women’s disease.  We all have our secret dreads.  Many women fear breast cancer the most, followed by ovarian cancer but the number one killer of women, by a huge margin, is heart disease.”

MY COMMENT:  Cancer sucks.  I mean absolutely no disrespect with this statement, in my opinion there’s been a lot of really good marketing for breast cancer.  Professional sports teams wear pink, there are annual fundraisers, everyone is aware of this horrible killer. 


While “fear of specific illnesses is universal, it’s important to plan and live your life based on what is (ACTUALLY) most likely to kill you rather than what you’re most afraid of.”

FACT:  “More women die of heart disease each year than of all cancers combined!  Ten times as many women die of heart disease than breast cancer.  In fact, cardiovascular disease kills more women than the next seven causes of death, combined.” The CDC lists heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Number one. It’s been the leading cause of death in our country since 1918.

FACT: Two thirds of strokes happen in women. 

FACT: Two thirds of women have no warning symptoms before their first heart attack. 

FACT: Two thirds of women never recover full function after a heart attack. 

FACT: Two thirds of women who survive strokes, suffer severe disability for the rest of their lives. 

The extraordinarily good news is that most cardiovascular disease is avoidable.  The numbers vary among researchers but 70 -80% of heart attacks and strokes are caused by lifestyle.  By the long term effect of choices we make every day.  That means that making different choices, starting with exercise, can change your life.  The most sedentary women are 5 times more likely to die than the fittest women.  Exercise both reduces the risk and increases survival for breast cancer, colon, and uterine cancer – and not by small numbers. The increased survival for breast cancer, for example, has been as much as 50% in some studies.”

“Be sure to get your mammogram but keep in mind that routinely exercising (at the level to at least break a sweat) is 10 times more likely to save your life.  Partially by reducing the risk of cancers but mostly because, contrary to the picture we have in our heads, it is cardiovascular disease that kills women. It’s all about circulation. Being sedentary is formally classified as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease , increasing risk more than smoking or high cholesterol.”

READ THAT AGAIN: Being sedentary is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing risk more than smoking or high cholesterol!

From the book, “Younger Next Year” (there is a version for men and one specifically for women) by Chris Crowley and Henry S Lodge, M.D.  This is my third time reading the book and I recommend it to all of my students.  Available in print and on Audible. 

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