13 Scary Facts About Black Women’s Health

August 12, 2013  |  
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There are a lot of things that are great about being a black woman. Unfortunately, great health isn’t one of them. The statistics show that black women are at risk for a unique host of health scares. Check out these facts and click the links for more statistical information on recent health findings related to black women.

HIV Among Black Women Is Five Times Higher Than Previously Thought

Back in 2010, scientists discovered a startling fact: black women are 20 times more likely than white women to be infected with HIV. In fact, the infection rates of African-American women are high enough to rival some of the HIV contraction rates in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Just two years ago, researchers built on that finding with the discovery that HIV rates among black women were five times higher than they even previously thought. Safe sex and regular STD tests can help bring those numbers down.

Black Mothers Up To Four Times More Likely To Die During Pregnancy

The good news is that those deaths are totally preventable. At the root of this frightening statistic is a lack of prenatal care. Getting close with a doctor or doula as soon as you know you’re pregnant means catching health risks before they become dangerous.

Black Women Are More Likely To Die Of Heart Disease Than Anyone Else

Two times more likely to be exact. And the risks start sooner than you think. Heart disease begins taking women’s lives as early as 45. The best way to prevent a heart attack is to start now. Eat right, exercise and find a doctor that you trust and schedule annual wellness exams. A doctor who knows you will better be able to spot changes in your heart.

A New Aggressive Breast Cancer Is Targeting Young Black Women

It’s called triple negative breast cancer. It is aggressive, deadly, goes easily un-diagnosed, and strikes women as young as the age of 35. If that’s not scary enough, this cancer resists every treatment option except chemotherapy.

The key here is early detection. Black women should start showing up for mammograms as early as their late twenties. And during your appointment, let your doctor know that you’re concerned about developing this particular type of cancer.

Diabetes Is 60% More Common In African Americans

That’s a big disparity. And it comes with pretty serious consequences. Blacks are also 2.5 times more likely to have a limb amputated after contracting the disease and 5.6 times more likely to develop kidney disease.

The good news is that a little healthy eating can reduce your risk. Don’t know where to start? Amazon.com is full of inexpensive books to help steer you in the right direction. A little reading now can save you a lifetime of injections later.

Lung Cancer Is The Second Most Common Cancer Diagnosis In Black Women

If that’s not a reason to put down that cancer stick, we don’t know what is. If you have a long history of smoking or lung cancer in your family, ask your doctor for a CT Scan. Even without insurance, it will only run you $300 to $400 which buys a lot of peace of mind.

High Blood Pressure Affects Black Women As Early As 20

And the chances that you suffer from it are pretty high. Nearly 45% of black women over the age of 20 have high blood pressure. And even dangerously high blood pressure can have no symptoms.

The easiest way to check your blood pressure is to test it at your local pharmacy. Sit and rest for five minutes then put your arm in the cuff for a test. If your pressure is high, it’s time to talk to your doctor about ways to bring it down, such as reducing salt intake and stress levels.

Eye Problems Are Likely In Your Future

African Americans are nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as Caucasians and the trouble can start as early as your late 20s. Start scheduling annual visits with your eye doctor — even if you don’t need glasses. And be sure to tell him that you’re concerned about glaucoma. The earlier you treat it the better your chances of retaining the quality of your vision.

80% Of All Women Will Contract HPV Before 50

Those numbers are shocking, especially when you consider the fact that HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Approximately 11.1% of all cervical cancer cases affect African American women and the mortality rate (4.6%) is equally disturbing. HPV has no symptoms, other than genital warts, so you’ll need to go to your OBGYN and ask for an HPV test. Pair that with annual pap smears and you’ll reduce your risk of becoming a statistic.

You’re Three Times More Likely to Get Fibroids

Heavy, painful periods, pelvic pressure and urination trouble/frequency are all signs that you’re dealing with a fibroid tumor. The good news is that these tumors are rarely life threatening, but it’s a good idea to ask your doctor to check for them anyway. Your insurance may cover removal surgery that can give sufferers a lot of relief.

Black Women Suffer from STDs At Higher Rates

In 2010, 69% of all reported cases of gonorrhea occurred among blacks.  Though the disparity in incidence between blacks and whites is higher among black men, black women are still 16.2 times more likely to catch gonorrhea than white women. The rate of chlamydia among black women is also over seven times the rate among white women, and when it comes to syphilis, the rate among black women is 21 times the rate among white women.

Being “Thick” Has Major Consequences

About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese and that fact comes with serious health risks. More than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight and people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and LDL cholesterol — all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Thankfully, you can reverse the affects of carrying too much weight and reduce your risk for almost all of the diseases on this list — including breast cancer — by losing just 10 percent of your body weight.

Black Women are Three Times More Likely to Experience an Unintended Pregnancy

Our rates of abortion are also significantly higher than that of white women, demonstrating the stark disparities that exist in access to quality affordable contraceptive services as well as women’s health care services. When you think about the threats to women’s reproductive rights that we face on the political front, these figures have the potential to be even more damaging to black women’s overall well-being and quality of life.

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