One can define health negatively, as the absence of illness, or positively, as fitness and well-being. Health also implies good prospects for continued survival. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”(Health, 2006).
This writer defines health not only as the absence of illlness but also as being healthy as it relates to health promotion. Health promotion is the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health. Optimal health is defined as a “balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health” (O’Donnell, n.d.). Optimal health is a complex, multifaceted goal to achieve and maintain.
This writer will adhere to physical health for this paper. Lifestyle behaviors are the key ingredients to health. This writer attempts to choose behaviors that will promote good health. One behavior that is of particular importance is that of prevention through regular health screening. Getting regular check ups, preventive screening tests, and immunizations are among the most important things one can do for oneself.
There are general guidelines that can be followed to help decide which screening tests are indicated. Risk factors play a part in determining which screening tests are needed. Risk factors are things in ones life that increase ones chances of developing a condition or disease. “They can include things like family history, exposures to things in the environment, being certain age or sex, being from a certain ethnic group, or already having a health condition” (Women’s Health, n.d.).
For this writer a yearly mammogram and Pap smear test are indicated. A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast, and is used to detect and evaluate breast abnormalities. The Pap test also called a Pap smear, checks for changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix. The Pap test can tell if a woman has an infection, abnormal cervical cells, or cervical cancer.
This writer views yearly mammograms as an important health promoting behavior because mammograms are probably the most important tool doctors have to help them diagnose and evaluate women for breast cancer. Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. “For example, mammograms have been shown to lower
the chance of dying from breast cancer by 35% in women over the age of 50; studies suggest for women between 40 and 50 they may lower the chance of dying from breast cancer by 25-35%” (Breast cancer, 2006). In addition to mammograms, this writer views a pap test as a health promoting tool because a Pap test can save a woman’s life.
This screening test can find the earliest signs of cervical cancer – a common cancer in women. According to Women’s Health (n.d.) if caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells.
Treatment can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developing. Healthy lifestyle behaviors are all about choices. One of the most important things individuals and families can do to promote good health is to make smart choices. Taking advantage of health screening tests is the right choice to make. Additional lifestyle behaviors include avoiding risky behaviors. Avoiding behaviors such as using tobacco or drugs, or abusing alcohol – even driving without a safety belt – can save lives and improve health. Behavioral changes reduce the chance of illness or injury.
Many behavioral changes are difficult to make. Take smoking for an example. People generally know how dangerous smoking is their health yet they continue to smoke. The risk of developing lung cancer is 10 times greater for smokers than for nonsmokers. Those who smoke 2 or more packs of cigarettes a day are 15 to 25 times more likely to die of lung cancer than nonsmokers (Smoking from all sides, 2004).
This year, more than 450,000 Americans will die prematurely of diseases linked to smoking. That is as many Americans as have been killed in all the wars fought in this century and more than the combined annual death tolls from alcohol, illegal drugs, traffic accidents, suicide and homicide. Worldwide, even the most conservative estimates place the number of avoidable deaths caused by smoking at well above 2 million a year (Smoking from all sides (2004).
Smoking causes about 30% of all cancers, including cancer of the lungs, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, bladder and pancreas. It is also a major cause of heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Pregnant women who smoke have higher rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and complications of pregnancy. More of their babies die soon after birth than newborns of nonsmoking mothers (Smoking from all sides, 2004).
So one might ask, why does this writer smoke? There is no logical, rational answer to that question. Most smokers spend countless hours during their smoking careers trying to satisfactorily answer this most perplexing question. This writer has asked people why they continue to smoke and typically, answers they come up with are that they smoke because they are unhappy, unsatisfied, nervous, bored, anxious, lonely, tired or just frustrated without their cigarettes.
Other reasons often quoted are that cigarettes keep them thin, make them better able to think, or that they are more sociable while smoking. After hearing these wonderful qualities attributed to cigarette smoking, this writer is still faced with the truth that nicotine in a drug, a drug and kills. To answer the above question I do not know.
Another healthy lifestyle behavior that can significantly reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease is being physically active most days of the week. Regular, moderate physical activity such as brisk walking (3-4mph) 30 minutes or more a day has been associated with a 10-25 percent reduction in the risk for breast cancer and as much as a 25-50 percent reduction in the risk for colon cancer. Exercise probably
contributes to the prevention of cancer in many ways that we do not fully understand yet (Hart, 2006). Again, this is another example of a healthy behavior that this writer does not adhere to, and again there is no logical or rational reason for this writer not partaking in daily exercise.
These are just a few examples of health promotion. According to O’Donnell (n.d.) people can choose to live healthier lives by being physically active each day, get preventative screening, eat a nutritious diet, and avoid risky behaviors. Obviously this writer needs to reassess some of her lifestyle behavior choices. .
ReferencesBreastcancer.org. (2006). Retrieved March 16, 2006, from http://www.breastcancer.org/ Hart, J. (2006, March 9). Improving lifestyle behaviors could reduce cancer rates. Retrieved March 17, 2006, from http://vanderbiltowc.wellsource.com Health. (2006, March 14).
In Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health O’Donnell, M. (n.d.). American journal of health promotion. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from http://www.healthpromotionjournal.com/ Smoking from all sides. (2004). Retrieved March 17, 2006, from http://smokingsides.com/smoking.html Women’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2006, from http://www.4woman.gov/index.htm