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October 31, 2005

New Diseases That Busy Women Get

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THE DANGER: Over-the-counter medicines and alternative remedies can sometimes be unnecessary, in effective, and even harmful. People who try to avoid waiting in a doctor's office by logging onto the Internet to diagnose their symptoms themselves often end up with a case of "cyberchondria"--meaning they think they have something far worse than what they've actually got, says Neil Coulson, Ph.D., of the University of Derby in England. Cyberchondria is especially likely if you start trading information with people in chat rooms or on bulletin boards. Protect yourself with common sense: It's fine to start your research on the Web, but if you're worried enough about your health problem to start popping pills, you need to talk with your doctor.


THE DANGER: Experts predict increased rates of skin cancer, cervical cancer, and pelvic-inflammatory disease (a consequence of untreated chlamydia) in the future because of the high number of young women who don't get skin-cancer screenings, Pap tests, or pelvic exams.

Preventive care may seem time consuming and costly now (especially since people ages 19 to 29 are the fastest-growing group without health insurance), but it's far easier and cheaper to get screened than to deal with diseases not caught early. For instance, basal-cell skin-cancer surgery costs $250 to $5000; cervical cancer treatment can run about $20,000. Plus, you may be able to get a free skin-cancer screening (www.aad.org) or a low-cost Pap test (888-842-6355) if you qualify and if doctors in your area perform them.

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