Health Risk Assessment Tips

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How do I determine if I am at high risk for diabetes?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Diabetes

Because we know a great deal about diabetes and its causes, it's relatively simple to determine if you are at risk for diabetes. When doing a health risk assessment for diabetes, several factors need to be taken into consideration.

Do you have a family history of diabetes?
If you do, your risk is higher.

Are you of African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Island descent?
If you are, your risk is higher because diabetes is more common in these ethnic groups.

Do you get moderate exercise most days of the week?
If not, your risk is higher.

Are you at a healthy weight?
If not, your risk is higher.

Do you eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains?
If not, your risk is higher.

Take a good look at the factors above and you can make your health risk assessment for diabetes. If you have questions or feel you are at risk, talk to you doctor about lessening your risk factors.

   
How do I assess my risk for lung cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk For Lung Cancer

A common cancer among both men and women, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer. It kills about 160,000 people in the United States every year. While smoking is the largest cause of lung cancer, other risk factors contribute as well. Your health risk assessment for lung cancer should take into account all factors listed below.

Age - As with many cancers, the risk of lung cancer increases as you age. It's most common in people over 40 and over 75.

Smoking - If you smoke, even just a few cigarettes or a cigar a day, your risk for lung cancer is much higher. 90% of lung cancer cases occur in smokers.

Secondhand smoke – Even though you're not smoking the cigarette directly, the toxins are still entering your lungs, increasing your risk.

Air pollution – City dwellers are at a higher lung cancer risk, probably because they are exposed to more concentrated pollutants (car and bus exhaust, factories etc.)

Workplace chemicals – Exposure to asbestos, radon and chromium, among other chemicals, greatly increases your lung cancer risk.

Family history – If someone in your immediate family (mother, father, siblings) has lung cancer, your risk is higher. The genetic mutations that cause lung cancer can be hereditary.

   
What is my risk for skin cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Skin Cancer

Everyone loves the healthy look of a glowing tan, right? Well, that tan may look healthy, but it certainly isn't healthy for your skin. Over 90 percent of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are due to sunlight exposure.

Both basal and squamous cell cancers are slow growing. This means when caught, they are generally quite curable with treatment. Malignant melanoma is also typically curable, but if it's not caught early enough, it can invade other organs of the body, thus increasing the possibility of death.

Your major concern in a health risk assessment for skin cancer is simply how much exposure you get to the sun. If you spend a great deal of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen, your risk is high.

Recent research has indicated that the significant risk factor for malignant melanoma may not be the amount of sunlight exposure, but instead the frequency and severity of sunburns. This suggestion has not been proven and is controversial.

Because the main risk factor in a skin cancer health risk assessment, sunlight exposure, is well within your control, skin cancer should be quite preventable.

   
How do I assess my risk for cervical cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Cervical Cancer

Each year in the United States, about 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer is highly treatable if caught in the early stages. The cervix links the vagina and uterus together and is small, only about one inch around. It is part of the reproductive system.

To assess your health risk for cervical cancer, consider the risk factors below.

Age – Cervical cancer risk increases with age.

Cigarette smoking – Smoking increases your risk. Since smoking breaks down the body's cells and damages DNA, it can cause cancer.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) –Certain STIs, especially HPV, can cause cervical cells to become cancerous.

High number of sexual partners – More partners means a higher chance of contracting HPV, thus a higher risk of cervical cancer.

Two or more children – Researchers don't know why, but if you've given birth to two or more children, your risk is higher.

No Pap tests – A Pap test is the single most effective way doctors have of screening for cervical cancer, and catching it early. If you're over 18 and aren't getting yearly Pap tests, your risk is higher.

   

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for West Nile Virus

TThe summer months are a great to time to enjoy the outdoors. While you are barbequing, swimming and hiking there are some pests you should be aware of. Mosquitoes, those annoying insects whose bite can cause red itchy bumps, can also transmit disease. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile Virus is on the rise and the very young and elderly need to be especially careful to protect against this disease—people over 50 are most at risk for the disease.

Most people infected with the West Nile Virus (WNV) have hardly any symptoms at all—a smaller number with West Nile Virus symptoms may experience:

• High fever
• Headache
• Muscle weakness
• Stiff neck
• Vision problems
• Tremors

West Nile Virus treatment is mostly done at a hospital and is supportive care. There is no known treatment for the West Nile Virus disease.

To prevent WNV avoid mosquitoes:

• Use insect repellant with DEET or similar active ingredient
• Avoid being outdoors or use more precautions when mosquitoes are most active: dawn and dusk
• Use screens to keep insects out of your house
• Limit mosquito breeding grounds by eliminating standing water in pots, wading pools, and spare tires

   

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Avian Flu

In 2005 we witnessed the emergence of avian influenza also called “the avian bird flu” or simply “the bird flu.” This disease occurs naturally in birds and is caused by a virus. Although wild birds can carry the disease and not get sick, domestic birds (chicken and turnkey) can get sick and spread the disease quickly among the flock causing sickness and death. Generally the threat to humans is low. However, while there is an outbreak of bird flu, people who are exposed to sick birds are at risk for contracting the disease.

Human risk of infection with the avian flu is based on these factors:

• Contact with infected birds or poultry
• Contact with surfaces contaminated with bird or poultry bodily fluids
• Living among pigs and infected poultry

Bird flu prevention is a top priority for researchers. Currently studies are underway for a bird flu vaccine to protect against the disease. Also, many governments are preparing for the bird flu and for possible outbreaks in the future.

Human risk of infection with the avian flu is based on these factors:

• Contact with infected birds or poultry
• Contact with surfaces contaminated with bird or poultry bodily fluids
• Living among pigs and infected poultry

Bird flu prevention is a top priority for researchers. Currently studies are underway for a bird flu vaccine to protect against the disease. Also, many governments are preparing for the bird flu and for possible outbreaks in the future.

   
How do I evaluate my risk for bladder cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer is a fairly sneaky cancer, in that many people have not heard of it. Despite this fact, bladder cancer is relatively common in America, with 60,000 people diagnosed yearly.

To do a health risk assessment for bladder cancer, evaluate the risk factors below.

Age - Your bladder cancer risk increases with age. It's most common in people over 65.

Gender – Men are at higher bladder cancer risk than women.

Smoking – Smokers are at higher risk for bladder cancer.

Workplace chemicals – Certain chemicals can damage DNA which can lead to cancer. The rubber, aluminum, and textile industries use such chemicals. Exposure increases your risk.

Family history – If someone in your immediate family (mother, father, siblings) has bladder cancer, your risk is higher.

   
How do I assess my risk for prostate cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland is responsible for manufacturing the fluid that mixes with sperm. It is a small gland, but it is causes 180,000 cases of prostate cancer among American men every year. It is also the most common type of cancer in American men.

In a health risk assessment for prostate cancer, the following factors increase your risk.

Age – Prostate cancer risk increases with age. In fact, more than 90 percent of prostate cancer cases are in men older than 55.

Height – Scientists have not determined why, but taller men are at higher risk for prostate cancer.

Diet – A diet too high in animal fat (more than 5 servings a day) increases your risk of prostate cancer.

Vasectomy – After a vasectomy, you are at a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The reason for this is unknown.

Family history – Prostate cancer is linked to DNA changes. Because this can be hereditary, if you have a father or brother with prostate cancer, your risk is higher.

Ethnicity- African American men are at the highest risk for prostate cancer of all ethnic groups. Asian men are at lowest risk.

   
How do I assess my risk for heart disease?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease is a very real problem for both men and women. In fact, it is the number one health problem in America as well as the leading cause of death.

In a health risk assessment for heart disease, you need to examine two types of risk factors; risk factors beyond your control and risk factors within your control. Taking action to reduce the risk factors in your control can offset the facts you cannot change.

Risk Factors Beyond Your Control
* Advancing age – The heart disease risk for women rises as they grow older.
* Gender- Men tend to have heart attacks at younger ages and they carry a greater risk for heart attacks than women.
* Race- African American women are at a higher risk of heart disease than Caucasian women.
* Family history- Blood relatives with heart disease increase your chances.
* Previous heart attack- If you've had one, chances are good you'll have another.

Risk Factors in Your Control
* Smoking – This habit puts your heart disease risk through the roof.
* High Blood Pressure (hypertension) – Obesity increases your risk for hypertension, which, in turn, increases your risk for heart disease.
* High Cholesterol – Higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol) can lower your risk, but high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) increase it.
* Sedentary Lifestyle – Inactivity often leads to obesity, and on to heart disease.
* Overweight – Extra fat, especially belly fat, increases your risk.
* Diabetes – The disease and its complications increase your risk.

   
How do I assess my risk for colon cancer?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk For Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is most prevalent in people over 50 years old. The third most common cancer among Americans, it is highly treatable when caught early. Screenings are quite effective for detecting it.

In your health risk assessment for colon cancer, consider the risk factors below.

Age – Colon cancer risk increases as you age. Most cases are found in people over 50, with the average age being 73.

Height – Tall people are at higher risk, thought scientists have not pinpointed why that is.

Red meat – Those who eat more than one serving of red meat each day have a higher risk of colon cancer.

Alcohol – Drinking more than one drink daily increases colon cancer risk.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – People who suffer from IBD for 10 years or more are at increased colon cancer risk.

Family history – Because gene mutations that cause colon cancer can be hereditary, family members with colon cancer increase the risk.

   
How do I assess my risk for Alzheimer's disease?

Health Risk Assessment: Evaluating Your Risk For Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is a particularly heartbreaking condition that generally affects people 65 and older. This degenerative brain disorder degrades a person's good judgment, learning capacity, memory and ability to reason. Alzheimer's may also cause anxiety or agitation as well as personality and behavioral changes.

While there is no single cause responsible for Alzheimer's disease, researchers are learning more about the condition every year. Because so little is known about the cause, a health risk assessment for Alzheimer's is relatively short.

Age – This is the most significant risk factor. For every five years after age 65, the Alzheimer's risk almost doubles. The risk is nearly 50 percent for those over 85.

Family history – Immediate family members (parents, siblings) with Alzheimer's disease greatly increase an individual's risk.

   
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