Men are more likely to die from cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, and physical injuries. But certain serious conditions are known to target women exponentially more often than men. Here are six of the most common.
1 URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
The main reason women get more UTIs? Simple anatomy. Because the urethra— the duct through which urine passes from the body—is shorter in women and closer to the anus, it’s easier for bacteria to migrate into the urinary tract and cause infections. Birth control methods, such as diaphragms or spermicides, and irritating feminine products can also contribute to the problem. To protect against UTIs, wipe from front to back after using the bathroom, empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse, and drink plenty of water— several studies have linked low urine output with increased risk of UTIs.
CRANBERRIES, in juice or capsules, are rich in proanthocyanidins, which may prevent bacteria, especially E. coli, from adhering to urinary tract cells.
GOLDENSEAL, a potent antimicrobial herb, also helps keep bacteria away from the bladder wall.
VITAMIN C increases the acidity of the urine, which helps kill bacteria. According to a study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 100 mg of vitamin C per day (along with iron and folic acid) significantly reduced UTI risk among pregnant women. Drinking hibiscus tea (rich in vitamin C) is also a good idea—a 2016 study looked at hibiscus tea for UTIs and kidney inflammation and found it to be effective.
PROBIOTICS balance the urogenital flora and can significantly reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs.
D-MANNOSE, a type of sugar sold in powdered form, has been shown to help inhibit E. coli from sticking to the bladder wall.
2 AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
Conditions in which the body attacks its own cells and tissues strike women three times more than men, and they’re among the top 10 leading causes of death in American women. Women are also 10 times more likely to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition marked by weight gain, cold hands and feet, depression, constipation, fatigue, and thinning hair. Sex hormones may play a role in autoimmune diseases, and some research suggests that variations in X chromosomes (women have two, men haveone) increase the risk of autoimmune disease.
Another theory: when women give birth, fetal cells may stick around in the body after pregnancy— sometimes for as long as 30 years—and can prompt an autoimmune response in mothers, says Brittany Henderson, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist and author (along with health writer Allison Futterman) of What You Must Know About Hashimoto’s Disease. Other triggers include infections, food allergies, environmental toxins, and stress.
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