Although we often do everything possible to avoid them, screening tests play a major role in preventative medicine and are an important part of maintaining optimum health. The next time you are conducting a mental tug-of-war as to whether or not to have a test, remember what screenings can provide.

Oftentimes, people who think they are the picture of health can learn to pay closer attention when a test reveals a borderline high cholesterol level, an abnormal Pap smear, or a precancerous polyp in their colon. Test results frequently help people take the necessary steps to reduce their risks and the likelihood they will develop a life-threatening disease or disabling condition in the future.

Between ages 19 and 29
Breast cancer, cervical cancer, Chlamydia, high cholesterol, obesity and skin cancer. If you are at risk, you should be tested for diabetes, and tuberculosis.

Between ages 30 and 49
Breast cancer, cervical cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, skin cancer and thyroid dysfunction. If you are at risk, the following tests are also recommended: Chlamydia, colorectal cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and tuberculosis.

Over 50
Breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, osteoporosis, skin cancer and thyroid dysfunction. Those at risk should also be tested for Chlamydia, diabetes, and tuberculosis.