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Top Ten Causes of Death in Women

Three Easy Things You Can Do About It

I think of the hardships my great-grandmother and grandmother had to shoulder with nine and seven children respectively in rural Saskatchewan and I draw strength from the courage and fortitude they must have had. In the absence of running water, electricity, and central heating, their physical strength and spirit must have been astounding. It is their determination that allows me to enjoy a life more abundant than they could have imagined.

There have been some amazing advances in medicine and technology over the past 100 years, providing life-saving solutions to profoundly devastating illnesses and both acute and chronic-care needs. From diagnostic tools to treatment options, there is no question that women have experienced extended lifespans compared to their foremothers. Unfortunately, as a society we have traded quality of life for life extension, by eliminating many previous causes of death, but exposing ourselves voluntarily (i.e. smoking) and involuntarily (i.e. environmental pollution) to toxic substances and almost eliminating health-promoting physical activity.

With the exception of true accidents, every one of the top ten causes of death in women can be avoided, or improved, by optimal nutrition and regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity. The human body was designed to function on unprocessed or lightly processed foods in small quantities and yet we violate our digestive tracts with highly processed foods containing toxins,  which contribute to cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. Combined with a precipitous decline in physical activity, we have created a train wreck that will continue to negatively affect future generations. There are three simple (but not always easy) steps to reduce or eliminate the leading causes of death in women:

  1. Reduce or ideally stop activities that flood the body with toxins that are known carcinogens (smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to environmental toxins). Visit www.EWG.org for information on products that contain toxins.
  2. Consume small meals consisting of toxin-free, unprocessed (or lightly processed) foods.  Reduce foods that are unrecognizable compared to their original form. One way of doing this at supper time is to increase the space on your plate occupied by vegetables by 50% while reducing the space on your plate occupied by non-vegetables by 50%.
  3. Participate in physical activity most days of the week for at least 30-60 minutes per bout of exercise. It has to be of moderate to vigorous intensity to be most effective. Walking the dog for 20 minutes will not dramatically improve your health.

For all the women -  the mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and cousins, your strength and perseverance are no less important than that of your ancestors or mine. We all have an obligation to wake up and turn around the poor choices we’ve made with diet and sedentary living. Let’s make one better choice today, followed by another tomorrow, and more each day thereafter. 

Top 10  Leading Causes of Death in Women

  1. Cancer - 28.3%
  2. Heart Disease - 20.3%
  3. Stroke - 7.0%
  4. Chonic Lower Respiratory Diseases - 4.4%
  5. Accidents - 3.5%
  6. Diabetes - 3.1%
  7. Alzheimer's - 2.8%
  8. Influenza and Pneumonia - 2.5%
  9. Kidney Disease - 1.6%
  10. Suicide - 0.8%



Rod Macdonald is the Vice President of Canadian Fitness Professionals. For more information on Canada’s largest provider of fitness education, visit www.canfitpro.com