The Georgia Senate Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Committee met at Augusta University in Augusta, GA on October 6, 2015. The Study Committee heard from experts about the top health concerns affecting women in the state, including breast cancer and cervical cancer, aging issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Information was presented by Dr. Sharad Ghamande, Dr. Carlos Isales, and Dr. Lucy Marion of Augusta University, Nancy Paris and Angie Patterson of Georgia CORE, Dr. Stephen Goggans of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Dr. Pascha Shafer, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women followed by cervical cancer. A family history of breast cancer is the most significant predictor of risk, and genetic screening for BRCA 1/2 can reduce the incidence of breast cancer and ovarian cancer by 80-95 percent. While cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States, the Pap smear screening test reduced the death rate from cervical cancer by 74 percent from 1955-1992.
Georgians are living longer, and an aging population brings its own health challenges. The study committee heard presentations on aging covering such topics and osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s Disease, both of which disproportionately affect women.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Each day, eleven women die in Georgia from heart disease. Obesity, which affects over one-third of the population in our state, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by a factor of four, and diabetes, another risk factor, is increasing in prevalence as well. Smoking tobacco products is associated with half of heart disease events in women, and the risk drops quickly when women stop smoking. In fact, the risk is mostly gone in 2-3 years.
The next Senate Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Committee will meet on Monday, November 9, 2015 from 2:00-5:00 pm in room 450 of the State Capitol.