Top diseases that kill women in PH

By Christine Cudis

March 6, 2019, 1:54 pm

MANILA -- While the world celebrates the accomplishments of women this March, the observance of the International Women’s Month also serves as perfect time to remind everyone of the plaguing female health issues.

Recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Department of Health (DOH) released in February 2018 bared the top causes of death among women in the Philippines.

Neoplasm or “cancer” with 30,954 or 12.5 percent topped the chart; followed by ischemic heart diseases with 29,662 with 12.0 percent; then pneumonia with 28,816 or 11.6 percent of the total in 2016.



Breast cancer accounts for 16 percent of all cancer diagnosis, and about 30 percent of cancer cases among women. Doctors estimate that three out of 100 Filipino women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

In February 2017, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society released data showing that the Philippines had the highest prevalence of breast cancer among 197 countries.

There is no known cause of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why a woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What is known so far is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell's DNA.

To reduce the risk of breast cancer -- lessen alcohol intake, avoid smoking, maintain a physical lifestyle, breastfeed your children, reduce hormone therapy, and avoid exposure to radiation and pollution.

Early detection is key to keeping women alive and healthy.

Mammography, a simple X-ray examination of the breast, detects breast tumors long before they can be felt by the fingers. Experts advise that women take a screen test to verify risk at an early stage, especially for those women 40 years-old and above.

Ischemic heart diseases

Also known as coronary heart failure, this silent disease occurs to persons who have a strong build-up of plaque inside the coronary arteries, preventing blood from reaching the coronary arteries. It gets worse over time and can cause angina, heart attacks, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

The best way to prevent this disease is to live a healthy lifestyle -- working out, eating a balanced meal, avoiding cigarette smoke, and maintaining one’s appropriate weight.

In addition, one should manage other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Being stressed also contributes to the development of the disease, as much as possible, engage in positive discussions and avoid unnecessary fights that may cause anxiety.


An infection that causes your lungs to fill up with fluid and puss, pneumonia is highly contagious. One can be affected, especially those with a weak immune system, through contact or droplets.

Washing hands and observing cough etiquette -- covering one’s mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, and throwing it away properly in a wastebasket.

Getting pneumonia vaccination every five years is highly advised as well.

Women’s reproductive health is also another matter that needs attention as sexual and reproductive health problems are responsible for one-third of health issues for women between the ages of 15 and 44.

A huge risk factor is unsafe sex. To avoid this, using protection during intercourse should always be a priority.

It also goes the same for maternal health. Though many women now benefit from a massive improvement in care during pregnancy and childbirth, many benefits still do not extend everywhere.

Numbers as of 2013 paint a grim picture with 3 million women still dying from complications in pregnancy and childbirth all over the world. Most of these deaths could have been prevented had some basic services been put in place.In 2016, there were a total of 1,483 maternal deaths recorded. These figures are irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.

Among all regions, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) recorded the biggest number of maternal deaths with 213 or 14.3 percent of the total, followed by Central Visayas with 201 or 13.6 percent, and National Capital Region with 159 or 10.7 percent.

On the other hand, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao recorded the least number of maternal deaths with 11 or 0.7 percent. (PNA)