International Women's Day: Health Report

Group of Women

International Women's Day isn't only a chance to celebrate the achievements of women, but an opportunity to take a look at how well, or not so well, we're doing when it comes to health. With that in mind, TA offers a round-up of the most pressing health issues affecting women around the globe and where American women stand among them.

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The incidence of ovarian cancer varies greatly. Globally, Scandinavia, Israel and North America have the highest rates. Developing countries and Japan have the lowest. In the U.S. it's predicted one in 56 women will develop ovarian cancer. The five year survival rate is greater than 75 percent if the diagnosis is made early.


This is the third most common cancer worldwide and the leading cause of death from cancer among women in developing countries. Rates are highest in Central America and sub-Sahara Africa. It's estimated that in 2012 there will be 12,170 new cases with 4,220 deaths in the U.S. Our comparatively low rate is due to routine Pap screenings as well as the development of the HPV vaccine.


This is the top cancer in women on the planet. In the developed world, Iceland has the highest incidence of the disease, affecting approximately 39 women per 100,000, while Japan has the lowest - approximately 8 per 100,000 women. About 1 in eight U.S. women (just under 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.


If you're a woman living in the United States, you're six times more likely to be depressed than if you were living in a less advanced culture. In fact, nearly 15 percent of women living in the 10 richest nations report having at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. It's estimated that approximately 12 million women in the United States experienced clinical depression in 2011. The happiest women? You may be surprised to learn they live in Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela and El Salvador.


Being overweight is a factor in a long list of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Qatar gets the dubious distinction of being in first place in the obesity epidemic. Women living in other Middle East countries, specifically Baharain and Saudi Arabia, run a close second. Among Europeans, the UK has the most overweight women. According to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks eighth in terms of obesity rates for females ages fifteen and older.


According to the Global Social Wellbeing Survey, we rank third lowest in the world in the frequency of sexual intercourse, even though 81 percent of American women believe that sex is vital to their health and happiness. Who's getting the most sex? Look to Brazil, Sweden, Greece and Israel.


Women in richer countries live longer on average than those in the developing world. The women of Monaco live the longest with an average age of 89.73 years, while women in the African country of Angola live an average of only 38.6 years. It's striking to note that women in America's heartland are dying younger than they were a generation ago, reversing nearly a century of progress in public health and underscoring the rising toll of smoking and record obesity. In other areas, the average American woman today will live to be nearly 81 years old -- that's 33 years longer than they did a century ago. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently more than 70,000 American centenarians (folks who have lived to be more than 100) and four out of five of them are women.

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