5 hidden health risks for women

Breast cancer, heart attacks not only big threats

Author: Arden Davidson, Contributing writer
Published On: May 22 2012 02:25:17 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 14 2013 10:15:24 AM EDT

In an age when potential health risks are "on blast" 24 hours a day in virtually every media outlet, it is hard to imagine that any health risk could remain "hidden."

But surprisingly, there are still many health risks that women need to know about that are not getting a whole lot of attention.

There was a time when breast cancer and heart attacks in women were kept on the back burner, and women were given very little information about risks and prevention strategies.

Obviously that is far from the case today, which is fantastic. However so much media attention has been given to these two "giants" that many other health risks for women are slipping under the radar.

That's why we've decided to give a few of them the attention they deserve ...

No. 5: Air fresheners

Most women like to use air freshener to make their homes smell fresh and flowery. But as reported in Time Magazine, a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council indicates that those innocent-looking little household deodorants can actually be quite deadly.

Apparently, most household air fresheners contain a toxic chemical known as phthalates. In high doses, these phthalates, which, by the way, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, can cause a long list of health problems including cancer, hormone fluctuations and sterility.

These risks apply to all types of air fresheners -- the plug-in kind, the spray kind and the traditional "push-up" kind. Even the unscented and all-natural brands aren't guaranteed to be phthalate-free.

Surprised? Then you will really be astonished by our next selection ...

No. 4: Commercial tea bags

There's nothing more relaxing than curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea, right? After all, women have long been told about the many health benefits of tea; and we know from our own experience how enjoyable it can be.

Unfortunately, new research shows that the commercial tea bags that we so enjoy bobbing up and down in our cup of hot water may contain the toxic chemical, epichlorohydrin, which has been known to cause cancer.

According to Kristie Leong, MD, "When this chemical comes into contact with water, it forms a chemical called 3-MCPD, a known cancer causing agent." Thinking of switching to coffee? Think again. This same chemical, which is used in paper reinforcement by the food industry, can also be found in coffee filters.

Good thing you've been meaning to kick that caffeine habit anyway, right? And speaking of kicking habits ...

No. 3: Tylenol

If you're in the habit of popping a Tylenol or two in your mouth every time you have a headache, a hangover or some muscle pain, you need to be more careful.

According to a report in Harvard Women's Health Watch, "Each year, overdoses of acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol and other brands) account for more than 56,000 emergency room visits and an estimated 458 deaths from acute liver failure."

The publication acknowledges that the drug is not harmful when the proper directions are followed. However, experts also warn acetaminophen users to be careful about combining the drug with other over-the-counter or prescription drugs. They also say that it should never be taken with alcohol, or when alcohol is still in the bloodstream, like when you have a hangover.

Interestingly, there is something even more common that you likely ingest every day that could be a major hidden health risk ...

No. 2: Water intoxication

Women are often told that a great way to lose weight and stay healthy is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. However, there is actually something called "water intoxication," or hyponatremia, that can literally kill you.

According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, "Water intoxication provokes disturbances in electrolyte balance, resulting in a rapid decrease in serum sodium concentration and eventual death."

There is particular concern about people who become dehydrated while participating in sports, and then try to replenish themselves by drinking gallons of water.

With an increasing number of women participating in endurance events such as marathons and triathlons, the concern over hyponatremia has grown. In fact the New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2005 that 13 percent of runners in the Boston Marathon in 2002 drank too much water and ended up with mild hyponatremia.

Of course, some hidden health risks don't come from outside of us, but rather from within.

No. 1: Fibromyalgia

Before fibromyalgia was labeled as an actual disease, many women who complained of being fatigued and having pain all over their bodies were dismissed as merely being stressed out or just not coping with the aging process very well.

We can only imagine how incredibly frustrating that must have been for the women who suffer from this painful disorder.

Today, most doctors are aware that the symptoms of fibromyalgia are very real. But there are still many women who think what the doctors used to think -- that it is either all in their head or just a natural part of getting older. These women need to get the facts.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia almost exclusively targets women. Right now about 2 percent of the U.S. population has this chronic disease, and the risk increases with age.

Women who feel chronic fatigue and muscle pain need to talk to their doctors immediately.