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WI Cancer Volunteer: "Women Should Put Themselves First"

May 27, 2011

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Margaret Allen of Milwaukee says many women make a mistake by not putting their own health first. Allen is a Registered Dietitian who sees the tendency in women of all ages, to put the health and well-being of their husband, family and friends ahead of their own health needs.

"I think we tend to put all of those people first, before ourselves - when in fact, if we could choose to take care of ourselves, we would be better able to care for families and friends, and loved ones."

May is National Women's Health Month, and the American Cancer Society says one in three women will get cancer in her lifetime. In Wisconsin, more than 13,000 women a year receive a cancer diagnosis, although Allen says that number could be cut in half with early detection and healthier lifestyle choices.

Choosing healthy foods and getting regular exercise are the basic bits of advice that women often hear, but Allen notes they really can be helpful.

"I love eating a healthy diet. I feel like it makes me feel better, and I feel the time that I spend choosing healthy foods is time well spent."

Allen says in addition to screenings to help catch cancer early, when treatment is most effective, women should eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Allen says the website of the American Cancer Society's "Choose You" campaign is one place to start. It prompts a woman to select a health-related goal, and even pledge money as an incentive to reach it.

"Every woman who logs onto that website, it's an excellent opportunity to review healthy lifestyle changes. If they're not familiar with what routine screenings they should be receiving, they can get that information there."

She says women also should exercise at least half an hour, five days a week, and avoid tobacco, which continues to be the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI