The Gender Gap: Know Your Risks
The Singapore Women's Weekly|June/July 2020
The Gender Gap: Know Your Risks
Being a woman makes you more likely to be diagnosed with certain health issues, such as depression, insomnia and migraines. We find out why – and look at how you can beat the odds
Tan Gin Yee

There’s a real, tangible “gender gap” with some diseases and we don’t mean obvious ones, such as breast cancer, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. The reality is that women are more at risk of a few common health issues, such as depression, insomnia and migraines. The question is why, and what can you do about it? Here’s what you need to know about six health problems you’re more at risk of, just because you’re a woman.

Migraine

THE STATS A research conducted by the Duke-NUS Medical School and Novartis found that migraines tend to be more common in adult women than in men. According to the Migraine Research Foundation in New York, women tend to suffer from migraine three times as often as men.

WHY Monthly hormonal fluctuations are thought to play a role – more than 50 per cent of migraines that occur in women strike just before, during or after a monthly period. But lab-based research also suggests that women’s brains may have a faster trigger than men’s for activating the waves of activity responsible for migraines.

FIGHT BACK BY Making sure your diet is full of folate-rich foods, such as spinach, citrus fruits, legumes and eggs. Folate, a B-vitamin, can significantly reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, by lowering levels of a headache-triggering protein called homocysteine.

Stroke

THE STATS One in five women has a stroke in their lifetime, compared to one in six men. According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, heart disease and stroke combined is the leading cause of death among women in Singapore. WHY Women have some unique stroke risk factors. On top of that, the use of some types of hormone replacement therapies and contraceptive pills can increase the risk of blood clots, leading to an ischaemic stroke. Women are also more at risk of experiencing blood vessel bursting in the brain, which causes a haemorrhagic stroke.

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June/July 2020