Women 60 and older should know their
numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood
sugar and body mass index. Risk calculators
like those available from the American Heart
Association ( heart.org) can help women and
their doctors decide if taking aspirin or a statin
Cancer is the second leading cause of
death for women in the United States. The
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF;
cervical cancer screening in women age 21 to 65,
with cytology (Pap test) every three years or, for
women age 30 to 65, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus
(HPV) testing every five years.
The Pap test checks for abnormal cell
changes of the cervix before they have a chance
to develop into cancer. The HPV vaccine is recommended for young women through the age
of 26. HPV is a common sexually transmitted
infection that affects almost 80 million people—
or nearly one in four—in the United States. The
vaccine helps protect against cervical cancer as
well as head, neck and oral cancers caused
Women age 40 to 59 should be thinking
about breast and colon cancer screening. The
USPSTF recommends a screening mammogra-phy every two years for women age 50 to 74,
and colorectal cancer screening starting at age
50 and continuing until age 75.
“Based on your family history, health
concerns and other risk factors, you may start
screening for cancer earlier,” says Lisa Kennedy
Sheldon, chief clinical officer for the Oncology
Nursing Society and an oncology nurse practi-
tioner. “Talk to your doctor about the best cancer
screening plan for your situation.”
Women 60 and older who are current or
past smokers should consider lung cancer
screening. The USPSTF recommends annual
screening for lung cancer with low-dose com-
puted tomography in adults age 55 to 80 years
who have a 30-packs-a-year smoking history
and who currently smoke or have quit within
the past 15 years.
Finally, women should pay attention to their
skin. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in
the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the
deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by
exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and
skin damage from indoor tanning. All women
should wear sunscreen, avoid tanning booths
and consider getting a full-body skin check with
Some mental disorders affect more women
than men. For example, women have higher
rates of anxiety and depression. Generalized
anxiety disorder is a chronic condition in which
a person has exaggerated worry about routine
life events and activities that lasts for at least
Certain types of depression are unique to
women, like postpartum depression, sometimes
called the “baby blues,” after childbirth, and
perimenopause-related depression. This occurs
when women start to experience skipped and
irregular periods before menopause.
Mental health screening tools can help
women know if they are at risk for depression,
anxiety and eating disorders. Women can also
talk to their doctor about ways to manage mental health disorders, such as taking medication,
seeing a mental health professional or joining
a support group.
Physical health and mental health are connected. Taking care of your mental health can
help you feel better physically, and taking care
of your body is good for your mental health.
Costco member Aisha Langford is a freelance
writer and academic researcher with a background
in public health.
Society: Get Up,
Just the facts
Being a woman
brings unique health
are just a few.
● Heavy menstrual bleeding affects
roughly one in five women.
● Arthritis is the most common
cause of disability for women.
● Nearly 19 women die every
day from prescription opioid drug
● Migraine headaches are three
times more common in women
than in men.
● About 12 percent of American
women age 15 to 44 have difficulty
getting pregnant or carrying a
pregnancy to term.—AL