4 most common health mistakes can be deadly

LOS ANGELES Exercising too little and eating too much is just one common mistake that most of us make. But there are four mistakes that a lot of us make that can be dangerous -- even deadly.

Not getting a follow-up test after having an abnormal Pap smear is just one of the four mistakes.

Gynecologist Jennifer Young says it is very important to go back to your doctor for a follow-up appointment after an abnormal Pap smear.

"A million women a year have an abnormal Pap smear. 300,000 of those require treatment in order to prevent cervical cancer," said Dr. Young.

But up to 50 percent of women don't follow up.

"For some women, it changes something that's easily treatable as an outpatient to a cancer to something that could actually kill them," said Dr. Young.

Another mistake -- avoiding birth control pills for fear they raise cancer risk.

"Most women don't understand that birth control pills actually decrease your risk of ovarian cancer by up to 50 percent," said Dr. Young.

She says the link between breast cancer risk and birth control pills came from studies in the early '80s.

"Ultimately, those studies have turned out not to be true," said Dr. Young.

Neuroscientist Suzanne Thomas says another mistake is quitting antidepressants cold turkey.

"Because antidepressants work on brain chemistry and affect the rest of the body, going off of them abruptly is not a good idea," said Dr. Thomas.

A doctor should taper the dose by one-fourth every two weeks to avoid side effects.

Another mistake is drinking too much, even occasionally. Women are smaller, have less body water and less of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol than men.

"Alcohol is more toxic to women's bodies than men's," said Dr. Thomas.

In fact, research shows women who get drunk just once a month have triple the risk of a heart attack.

Now you know four mistakes you can be sure not to make.

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