women

What You Are Not Telling Your Doctor … Could Hurt You (Part 1)

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And yet, the majority of women are fibbing or omitting key facts that could make for real trouble down the road. Here are six of the biggest little white lies - and why it's crucial to come clean.

After a tough workday, Kate almost always indulges in a glass of wine, sometimes two. And on weekend outings with friends, it's not unusual for her to down three or four drinks in one sitting. But when she goes for her annual check-up, she seldom admits to drinking, even though her father is an alcoholic. "I don't want the stress of having to defend my lifestyle choices," says the 42-year-old executive assistant. Kate's silence is far from uncommon.

Description: What you are not telling your doctor … could hurt you

Aspects of your sexual history, including the number of partners you have had, are among the top things women lie Ab cut to their doctors.

According to a Columbia University survey, more than half of women ages 25 to 49 routinely withhold information from their doctors. And really, who hasn't stretched the truth just a little when pressed about personal details, whether it's how often you floss or when you last hooked up with a new guy?

"People don't want to be scolded or judged," says Dr Barbara Korsch, author of The Intelligent Patient's Guide to the Doctor-Patient Relationship. "And often, they're simply embarrassed to talk about subjects they see as taboo" But honesty is the best policy at the doctor's office. If you've made one of the following misleading statements, you could be seriously sabotaging your health care.

Half-truth: "I eat a healthy diet."

Truth: The scale says "healthy," but the lemonade-cayenne "detox" concoction peeking out of your handbag suggests otherwise.

Description: Half-truth: "I eat a healthy diet."

Half-truth: "I eat a healthy diet."

Consequences: "Cleanses and other extreme diets can interfere with kidney function and protein levels," says GP Dr Wanda Filer. "And they may cause vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, blood sugar imbalances and loss of muscle mass." If you're struggling to drop weight, your doctor can help you choose a safer way to do it or refer you to an expert she trusts (like a registered dietitian). At the very least, being honest can help you prevent a misdiagnosis. Korsch tells the story of someone who came in with intestinal problems. "I was about to prescribe steroid medication when the patient admitted to following a raw, vegan diet," she says. "It was a simple nutritional problem rather than a medical one."

Half-truth: "I don't smoke."

Truth: You bum a cigarette from a colleague now and then.

Description: Half-truth: "I don't smoke."

Half-truth: "I don't smoke."

Consequences: More than one in 10 people who take at least an occasional drag hide the fact from their doctors, according to surveys by anti-smoking groups. But if you're not going through a pack a day, you're not really a smoker, right? Wrong. Health groups including the Cancer Council and Heart Foundation state plainly that there's no safe level of exposure, and even 'social smokers' are at risk for many conditions. In fact, research has shown that puffing just one to four cigarettes per day raises your odds of having a major heart-related event nearly threefold. Smoking is also linked to sinus and upper-respiratory infections, emphysema, stroke and, of course, lung cancer – so some screening tests may be in order.

If you fess up, your doctor will think twice about prescribing hormone-based contraception (like the pill), because you're more likely to suffer a blood clot or stroke. And if you get a bad cold, she may want to monitor you, because people who light up are more apt to develop pneumonia. Yes, your admission might lead to a lecture on quitting - but you could also walk away with some good advice about how to do it!

Half-truth: "I drink occasionally."

Truth: You frequently enjoy wine with dinner and often partake in several rounds during happy hour.

Description: "I drink occasionally."

"I drink occasionally."

Consequences: Technically that would make you a heavy drinker, defined by the Australian Government's health guidelines as a woman who averages more than one alcoholic beverage per day. And if you knock back four to five at one time - as many Australians do - you're binge drinking, which increases your chance of developing heart and liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure and a host of gastrointestinal and memory problems. Heavy alcohol consumption also puts you at risk for addiction and quaffing more than three drinks a day may hike your breast cancer odds by 30 percent. Along with the dangers of taking in unhealthy amounts of booze alone, it can also be problematic when used in conjunction with many medications - even over-the-counter ones. For example, in chronic pill poppers, taking just four to five extra-strength painkillers in one day can cause liver damage and mixing certain antibiotics with alcohol can lead to scary side effects like dizziness and rapid heart rate. If your doc knows your background, he can help you steer clear of bad interactions.

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