BENGALURU: Women are at constant risk of developing chronic diseases, which can be related to their modifiable lifestyle behaviours. Most women in the working class group juggle to maintain work-life balance. Stress, lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating habits can lead to diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, obesity, depression and even some types of cancer.
Sixty-eight per cent women suffer from lifestyle diseases. Fivety-three percent of them skip meals and go for junk food due to work pressure and deadlines. Twenty-three percent of women in urban India were employed, their health issues are a major concern for society as well as business. These illnesses are so called’ Western Diseases’ or non-communicable diseases. The common lifestyle diseases, which can affect women, are:
PCOS - most commonly noticed in young reproductive aged women. It’s a hormonal disorder leading to menstrual irregularities, obesity, and infertility.Obesity - 80 per cent of urban Indian working women in the age of 25-45 years are overweight due to stress, sedentary lifestyle or because of unhealthy eating habits. This can eventually be a risk factor for many chronic diseases and can also result in reducing the life expectancy. Obesity can affect mind and can cause depression, insomnia and psychological problems. Women in IT sector spend 10-12 hours sitting at their work desk, this plays a huge role in weight gain.
Metabolic Syndrome can be linked to obesity, CVS diseases, high cholesterol levels and fasting glucose levels in the blood. This can be due to stress, poor eating patterns or lack of physical activity.
Depression/Anxiety disorder - Main reason for this is long working hours and strict deadlines. Factors such a lack of sleep, exercise, addiction to alcohol and drug abuse can lead to depression.
Chronic Backache - Commonly seen in women at work which is exacerbated by long hours of static posture at work, inappropriate /no back support, excessive and sudden weight gain by the sedentary lifestyle.
Lack of exposure to sunlight can lead to vitamin D Deficiency- this can further mount to fatigue, bone pain and other risk factors.Infertility - There is a rising trend in the incidence of infertile women due to stress, delay in conception, obesity, and pre-existing condition like PCOS or diabetes. Lifestyle diseases are also complicating pregnancies, affecting both the mother and baby. These patients are always in a high risk category, complicated with the risk of miscarriage, pre-term labour, diabetes in pregnancy and increased intervention, causing increase in morbidity and mortality.Hair loss in women can be distressing which is mainly due to stress, poor eating habits, smoking or chronic illnesses
Breast Cancer- In recent years, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the younger women which is mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle. In 5% women it could be genetic therefore the testing has to be done at an early age.
Accelerated aging - There’s actually evidence that stress can affect how you age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were under high stress - they were caring for a chronically ill child - with women who were not. Researchers found that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effects of accelerated aging. Stress seemed to accelerate aging about 9 to 17 additional years.
Premature death - A study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly care-givers looking after their spouses, they are the people who are naturally under a great deal of stress. It found that care-givers had a 63 per cent higher rate of death than people their age who were not care-givers.
Correct body posture at work/home - Proper sitting posture will prevent from chronic backache either at work or home. Intake of Calcium is good for the bones in women above the age of 40-years.
Regular health check ups is recommended in order to diagnose diseases early and to ensure they are managed on priority.
Prominent factors contributing to lifestyle diseases:
Physical inactivity, bad food habits, inappropriate body posture and a disturbed biological clock.
The three healthy lifestyle factors:
Maintaining a healthy weight: The key is eating a good mix of proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates and fibre. Skipping meals can have deleterious effects on the health.
Exercising regularly: women are required to do a mix of cardio or weight bearing exercise, yoga or aerobics at least three to five times a week to prevent diseases.
Get proper sleep: adequate sleep is a must for at least 7-8 hrs in a day. Lack of sleep is a risk for heart disease and psychological problems.
The author is a senior consultant of Obsterics and Gynaecology