Mom: Take good care of yourself first

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's that time of year when many of us are trying to figure out what to do for our mothers on Mother's Day. Whether it's taking her out to dinner or doing something special, we hope all of us will make a special effort to honor mom this Sunday -- and every other day of the year.

But Mother's Day should also be a reminder for moms -- and all women -- to do something for themselves as well.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, with lung cancer being the top killer, followed by breast and colon cancers.

What better way to mark Mother's Day than by checking with your doctor about yearly cancer screenings and a mammogram. Mammography can detect breast cancer at an early stage when treatment may be more effective.

According to the American Cancer Society, other cancers that most frequently affect women are endometrial, ovarian, skin and cervical cancers.

In the United States, it's estimated that more than 270,000 women will die from cancer this year. Many cancers are linked to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, obesity and other lifestyle factors including smoking.

There is hope. By following these simple measures, women can reduce their risk for cancer and other diseases. Women are encouraged to:

* Follow the American Cancer Society screening guidelines, available online at www.cancer.org or by calling (800) 227-2345. Get regular health checkups, Visit with your physican about testing for breast, colon, cervical and skin cancer; and, based on family history, visit with your doctor about how often to be tested.

* Eat a variety of healthful foods, emphasizing plant sources such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Limit red meat, adopt a physically active lifestyle active lifestyle, maintain a healthful weight throughout life and limit alcohol consumption.

* Avoid smoking or other tobacco products. The American Cancer Society can help smokers quit, through telephone counseling sessions by calling (800) 227-2345.

* Limit or avoid sun exposure during midday hours (10 a.m. t0 4 p.m.). When outdoors, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. The most serious form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, will be diagnosed in approximately 62,480 people in 2008.

Mothers are known for the many sacrifices they make for their families, but their health shouldn't be one of them. The best thing a mom can do for those she loves is to take good care of herself first.

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