Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post: Post-Service Health Risks


I was contacted by Emily Walsh and was asked if I would be willing to have her guest post. She writes for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and wants to reach out to veterans on important health topics, especially health risks.

After reading what she has to share I agreed. My family has a medical history that hits on several of her points and I personally know a couple people who suffer from Mesothelioma.

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Post-Service Health Risks

Serving in the military is clearly one of the riskiest occupations one can have, but life after military service also has its own risks. Although the risks may be of a different nature, they can still be serious and life threatening. Here are a few health risks to be aware of.

Heart Disease
As you become older and less active, heart disease is definitely something to watch for. Over time, your blood vessels can become clogged with cholesterol. This is called "hardening of the arteries" and can lead to a heart attack if it goes unchecked.

The important thing here is to watch your weight. Being overweight or obese places you at a higher risk of developing diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes. It is very important that you eat a healthy diet and get some exercise each week. This helps ensure that your blood vessels do not become constricted and your heart stays healthy.

There is no need to count calories or go on a complicated diet. The main thing is to eat a diet based on mostly plants. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with your meals. Cut back some on the fatty meats and fried foods. Fried foods have high levels of dangerous fats called trans fatty acids, which have been implicated in heart disease.

Fruits and vegetables help stave off diseases like cancer and diabetes. Cruciferous vegetables have been found in studies to help prevent certain forms of cancer. Good sources are broccoli and cabbage.

Exercise is another way you can help reduce your risk of developing cancer and diabetes. Your level of physical activity may have dropped off when you left the military. Now is a good time to pick up some form of exercise.

Many veterans who have retired now run, jog, swim, lift weights, or play sports informally. The main thing is to get your heart pumping and strengthen it. Be sure to engage in some stretching and warm-ups prior to exercising. This helps prevent injuries.

Weight lifting is another great way to lose weight. The muscle you build will help you burn more calories by raising your metabolic rate. Not only will this help your overall appearance, but it will help your heart health as well.

Checkups
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of regular doctors visits. Having a checkup and a physical once a year will give you a better chance of discovering any health problems early while they can be treated more easily. Most people's health insurance covers this type of checkup.

Mesothelioma 
What is mesothelioma? This is a very serious lung disease that some veterans developed as a result of their exposure to asbestos during their service. This material used to be used in various military applications ranging from fire proofing in ships to insulation at military bases.

Some veterans did not even know they were exposed to asbestos until many years later. If you suspect you may have been exposed, see a doctor immediately.

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Thank you, Emily, for your post!



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