Health Risks in your 20s
The most common fatal illnesses include cancer and cardiovascular disease. Though these and other diseases have multiple causes, detecting them in their early stages via self-examinations and health check ups can both prevent and catch them before they become life threatening. No matter your current age, you should always put your health above anything else and look after yourself.
The best time to start checking, preventing and catching these diseases are in your twenties. The sooner you check the sooner you can take a course of action.
So, in our twenties, what should we be looking for?
Adults aged 25 – 29 are most at risk from melanoma cancer. Melanoma, commonly known as skin cancer, is caused by ultraviolet damage to the skin cells, from over exposure to sunlight and the use of tanning/sun beds. People with many moles or a family history of skin or pancreatic cancer are also at risk.
What can we do?
- Keep an eye on your skin, moles especially. If anything starts to look abnormal or different then seek medical attention.
- Get your tan from a bottle and avoid sun beds!
- Keep yourself covered and protected in the sun – sunburn can cause skin cancer too!
- Skin cancer is most common in women but men are just as likely to develop this disease if they don’t take similar precautions.
Women with a history of breast cancer have a higher chance of developing the disease. Starting in your twenties you should learn how to examine your breasts – your doctor or nurse can talk you through the correct procedure. If you notice any unusual lumps or discharge seek medical attention.
Human Papillomavirus, also know as cervical cancer, is increasing in young women. So much so that there has been a celebrity campaign to lower the age of initial testing in the United Kingdom from 25 to just 20. Even if you have not received a letter to attend a smear clinic, you can make yourself an appointment. Make sure you are going for regular pap smears and pelvic examinations, roughly every 2 – 5 years. If they catch the abnormal cells early enough there is a greater chance of survival. If you notice any unusual changes to your menstrual cycle inform your doctor.
Testicular cancer can occur in young men aged 20 – 39 so gentlemen, learn how to examine your testicles and have an annual professional exam too – leave your ego and pride at the door and think about your health!
I always associated high cholesterol with the older generation, but it can actually develop as early as your twenties. Partying, binging, pizza for breakfast (sound familiar?), all of those foods high in saturated fats that make up most of a stereotypical students diet can all lead towards high cholesterol! High cholesterol in turn can lead to blood clots, coronary heart disease and angina, as well as fatal heart attacks and strokes. Give yourself a fighting chance by lowering your cholesterol;
- Avoid and/or stop smoking!
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a low fat diet; including lots of daily fruits, vegetables and wholegrain.
Get your cholesterol checked every 5 years.
Make good decisions!
A lot of people in their twenties think this is the time when they should let go, try new things, go off and explore the world, do all of those things your parents couldn’t do once they settled down and had children. I agree with that, but, that doesn’t mean you have to try drugs, jump off hotel balconies into the pool below, binge drink, start smoking, eat an unhealthy diet and avoid exercise. Making the good choice now will pay off later in life. Eat better, exercise more, and know the things you should be saying no to!
Looking after yourself does not lead to a boring life, if anything it leads to a longer life filled with opportunities and adventures – we wan to be able to say yes to those things, to be healthy enough to enjoy them and possibly even do some of them again!
Look after your body now and it will look after you in the future. Your twenties are the start of your life, don’t let the choices you make during those years shorten your life!
- NHS Choices - Your health, your choices
Information from the National Health Service on conditions, treatments, local services and healthy living.
- Cancer care and support charity - Macmillan Cancer Support
Find out more about Macmillan Cancer Support and stay up-to-date with Macmillan's cancer care services, cancer campaigning and cancer charity fundraising efforts. Browse through information and publications on cancer, get advice and financial help wi
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