The Courier-Mail

Women rank fat, age over cancer

- SUSIE O’BRIEN

WOMEN care more about getting fat and old than they do about getting cancer or having a heart attack, new research shows.

A national survey of more than 3300 women and health profession­als has found one in five women is concerned about weight and ageing, but only one in 10 worries about cancer and mental health, and only one in 20 worries about heart disease.

This is despite the fact cardiovasc­ular disease kills 50 per cent of women, and one in three women are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

The research has been released by the non-profit health informatio­n organisati­on Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, to mark Women’s Health Week, which starts on September 7.

Dr Mandy Deeks, Jean Hailes’ head of communicat­ion, said women were “made to believe that cardiovasc­ular disease is a male disease, when this is definitely not the case”.

“We are aiming to identify the gaps in women’s health knowledge and assist profession­als to help women to be as healthy as they can possibly be,” she said.

“In particular this means raising awareness of the symptoms of heart disease.

“If you are watching what you weigh and being physically active, this is going to help with blood pressure and chol- esterol,” Dr Deeks said. “But you need to be aware of the warning signs.”

The survey showed some major gaps in women’s health knowledge. For instance, respondent­s said they knew a lot about periods, contracept­ion, sexual health, depression and anxiety, but little about recognisin­g the symptoms of heart attack or heart disease and managing blood pressure.

WE ARE AIMING TO IDENTIFY THE GAPS IN WOMEN’S HEALTH KNOWLEDGE Dr Mandy Deeks

The survey also revealed that women were interested in learning more about the safety and effectiven­ess of natural therapies.

“Given that large numbers of women use natural therapies, this is an area that requires communicat­ion of evidence-based informatio­n,” Dr Deeks said.

Women also want more informatio­n on polycystic ovarian syndrome and domestic violence, while health profession­als think women need more informatio­n about painful sex, brain health and excessive sitting.

The survey found women wanted more women’s health clinics and specialist doctors, but not necessaril­y more women doctors.

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