Take it from an Olympian: Get Checked

Former Olympic Gymnast Agrees with Doctors on Regular Checkups

08/13/15 8:33 PM
Visit Your Gynecologist

Photo by: GreenFlames09 | Flickr.com

It is estimated that 26,500 women die each year from  gynecological cancers. Of these, 15,500 annual deaths are caused by ovarian cancer alone, with cervical cancer following at over 4,000. Additionally, 40,000 women succumb to breast cancer each year. There are many measures women can take to lessen these risks, the very first of which is getting regular check-ups from a gynecologist.

The Importance of Gynecological Check-Ups

Former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller knows better than anyone what a devastating effect neglecting gynecologist appointments can have. She certainly came close in 2010. Miller had gone as far as to pick up the phone to cancel her gynecologist appointment due to a busy schedule.

Although she felt fine physically, the gold medalist was saved by a moment’s hesitation. The scheduled check, which involved a basic pelvic exam, revealed a large malignant tumor in Miller’s ovary. It took her nearly six months of extractive surgery, aggressive chemotherapy, and extreme weakness to rid her body of the cancer.

Miller had made it her mission to educate women about their health even prior to her own cancer experience, which has only heightened her dedication. She told the Florida Times-Union in July, “My primary message is make your health a priority and don’t feel selfish about it. Know your body and go in for exams.”

It is recommended that women get a routine exam once a year (including pelvic and breast) and pap smears every two to three years. Pap smears have been instrumental in detecting cervical cancer and dramatically reducing its mortality rate. It was this preexisting knowledge that stopped Miller from cancelling her appointment that fateful day, and it almost certainly saved her life.

Other Preventative Measures

There are several factors that women can control in order to inhibit breast and gynecological cancers.

  • Diet – The old adage “you are what you eat” is best applied here. Not only are certain foods known to play a role in cancer development – including red meat, salt, sugary snacks, white flour, artificial sweeteners, soda, fried foods, hydrogenated oils, and junk food in general – but being overweight and physically inactive are huge contributors as well. In fact, obesity accounts for about 35% of cancer deaths a year, while up to 20% of those deaths are credited to being overweight. Fill your diet with healthy foods and antioxidants, like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and leafy greens.
  • Exercise – Extensive research has shown that women who exercise regularly are far less likely to develop cancer, particularly breast and endometrial. Not only does physical activity reduce body fat, it also lowers levels of stress, hormones, and insulin – all of which are factors in cancer growth. Exercise also raises the body’s overall immunity and has been proven to help in the recovery process for cancer patients.
  • Supplements – Many people like to add supplemental herbs to aid in prevention. Among the top recommended supplements are: vitamins A,D, and E, turmeric, aloe, chlorella, green and white tea, acai, and seeds like flax, hemp, and chia. There is a long list of other effective herbs that can be studied in books or online.
  • Vaccines – The HPV (human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer) vaccine has been growing in popularity since its development, with over 30% of eligible women receiving at least one shot. The hepatitis B vaccine also helps to defend against liver cancer.

The list of preventative measures is a long one. To reduce risks, every person should be informed about these things. Most importantly, consult your gynecologist, educate yourself, and keep up with those annual check-ups! They could wind up saving your life.

Find much more information and a directory of the finest gynecologists in your area by visiting Gynecologists.com. Take control of your health today!

Search our database of accredited doctors by your city
or zip code

Filter by insurance provider