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Disparities and the Leading Causes of Death in Women - National Women's Health Week 2023

Disparities and the Leading Causes of Death in Women - National Women's Health Week 2023

There are significant disparities in the way women experience healthcare delivery, with certain groups facing greater obstacles to having access, and receiving lower quality care. Factors that influence healthcare disparities include social, economic, environmental, and other disadvantages The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the top 5 leading causes of death among women as follows:

  • #2 – Cancer is the second leading cause of death for women in the U.S. and affects women of all ages, races, and populations.  However, social, environmental, and economic disadvantages affect some groups more than others.   
    •  African American women have the highest cancer death rates and Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest cancer death rates.  
    • While African American women have similar breast cancer rates as white women, they have a greater risk of dying from it.  
    • Examples of how cancer can uniquely affect specific groups of women include:
      • Higher incidence of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer among African American women;
      • Higher rates of kidney cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native women;
      • Higher rates of liver cancer among Asian and Pacific Islander women; and
      • Higher rates of cervical cancer incidence among Hispanic and African American women.
    • See More Examples and Learn More About Cancer Disparities
    • Learn how to Prevent Cancer or Find it Early by simple and proven methods like cancer screenings/tests, vaccines, and making healthy choices.
  • #3 -Stroke affects 1 in 5 women between the ages of 55 to 75 and is the third leading cause of death for women in the U.S.  High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. Additionally, the risk for stroke increases with age, and because women live longer than men on average, more women have strokes over their lifetime than men.  
    • Women have unique risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure during pregnancy, using certain types of birth control medicines, and higher rates of depression.
    • African American women have the highest rate of death from stroke compared to other ethnic groups for a variety of reasons including high blood pressure, obesity, salt and sodium consumption rates, higher diagnosis rates of Sickle Cell disease, and tobacco use.
    • Learn More About How Stroke Affects Women
    • Take Action and Prevent Stroke (CDC) by getting regular physical activity, choosing healthy foods and drinks, keeping a healthy weight, and limited alcohol.
  • #5 – Alzheimer’s Disease is the fifth leading cause of death of women in the U.S.  More than 5.6 million people, over the age of 65, have Alzheimer’s Disease, of which, almost two-thirds are women.    
    • The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is age, and because women live, on average, 5 years longer than men, they are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
    • White women have the highest rate of death from Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • Learn more about Alzheimer’s and Its Effects
    • Recent research suggests increased physical activity, blood pressure control, and cognitive training Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s.

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