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Women: Health tips for your 50s and older

Focused on Health - August 2013

by Adelina Espat

50s healthLife changes with every decade. And so does your body. 

Just as you set personal milestones, you should also set health goals for every stage of life. Use these tips to help you look and feel your best in your 50s and beyond.

Limit your use of hormone therapy. Taking hormones can increase your chances of developing uterine cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke. Ask your doctor if hormone therapy is the best choice for you.

Focus on foods, not supplements: Researchers are still unsure about whether or not supplements actually help prevent cancer. Speak with your doctor or a registered dietician before taking a new supplement. He or she can decide which pills you really need and what dose you should take.

Even if your doctor recommends taking a supplement, your top priority should be getting the nutrients you need from the food you eat.

Check your colon: It’s that time. Colorectal cancer screening starts after age 50. The good news is you’ve got choices. You can schedule a colonoscopy, a virtual colonoscopy or a fecal occult blood test (more commonly known as an FOBT).

These exams are worth the minor discomfort, if any. Why? At least six out of 10 colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented if everyone age 50 and older got screened regularly.

So start the colorectal screening discussion at your next check-up. Your doctor can help you decide which exam is best for you.

READ ALSO: Colon screening: Colonoscopy vs. virtual colonoscopy

Snuff out the cigarette. More women die from lung cancer each year than breast cancer. The cause: smoking.  

Want to quit? You are not alone – 70% of women who smoke say they want to quit. And it’s never too late to quit. Get help and support. If you’re still having trouble, cut back as much as possible and make your home smoke-free.

Get more health tips for all ages

“Practicing these healthy behaviors is important for all women, regardless of age,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center . “So take note of all of these tips — even the ones directed toward women older or younger than you.”

And talk to your doctor about other cancer screening exams, like the mammogram, Pap test and HPV test. Exams also are available for those at increased risk for ovarian, endometrial, lung and skin cancer.

Your doctor can help you learn about your personal risk for cancer, and tell you what exams you should get and how often.

Women's health tips for your 20s
Women's health tips for your 30s
Women's health tips for your 40s
Women’s screening exam by age checklist

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center