See also Mammography
While many things about screening mammograms are uncertain, there's at least one thing that is certain: baseline mammograms shouldn't be recommended as a routine part of health care for women. There is complete agreement about this, even among organizations that disagree on almost every other aspect of mammography.
Silicone gel breast implants have been available in the United States for decades – going back to a time when medical devices didn’t require approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1992, after evaluating existing research on the safety and efficacy of silicone implants, the FDA took them off the general use market because it found that the manufacturers had not done adequate research to show that the products were reasonably safe.
This factsheet was written in collaboration with PharmedOUT, an independent, publicly funded project that empowers physicians to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices.
PharmedOUT promotes evidence-based medicine by providing news, resources, and links to pharma-free Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses. The factsheet on prescription drug marketing can be found here.
By Cynthia Pearson, NWHN Executive Director
Sometimes the work of women's health activists is easy. We discover that a new procedure or service can help improve women's health; we advocate for all women to have access to it; we do everything we can to ensure that it is provided in a high-quality way; and then we celebrate the gains made. Sometimes it's more complicated, though, and the case of mammography screening for breast cancer is a painful example of a complicated women's health issue.
Osteoporosis is a disease, more common in women, that causes bones to become fragile and more susceptible to breaking. Fractures and the consequent pain and disability can seriously affect women's health and their quality of life. Some women -- most commonly those who don’t have good access to health care -- experience fractures that could have been prevented if their osteoporosis had been treated. At the same time, not every woman who is warned about bone thinning needs to be worried.
"To rely on the drug companies for unbiased evaluations of their products makes about as much sense as relying on beer companies to teach us about alcoholism. The fact is that marketing is meant to sell drugs, and the less important the drug, the more marketing it takes to sell it." - Marcia Angell, former editor, New England Journal of Medicine
Many women, concerned about the health risks of conventional hormone therapy drugs, look for natural alternatives, such as herbs and dietary supplements. One kind of alternative -- products known as natural hormones, or bio-identical hormones -- has attracted substantial new interest since the Women's Health Initiative results increased awareness of the health risks caused by conventional hormone therapy products.
There is research going on right now to develop products, known as microbicides, that would give women the power to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. Around the world women's health and lives are at risk every day because there are too few options in STI protection. Although not yet on the market, the microbicides currently being tested are similar to spermicides. They would be applied in the vagina as a foam, film, cream, suppository, or gel with the ability to prevent or reduce the risk of infection by STIs. Microbicides would work in one of three ways: killing STI viruses and bacteria, creating a barrier to block infection, or preventing the virus from replicating after infection has occurred. Ideally, microbicides would be available either with or without spermicide in order to give women the option of becoming pregnant, while still protecting themselves from STIs.
What woman hasn't at least occasionally wished she could avoid having her period? For decades some women have taken their traditional pills on a non-traditional schedule in order to manipulate the timing of their periods - for example, to avoid menstruating during a vacation, athletic competition or another important personal event. There are now products on the market that offer this option with an extended schedule for taking oral contraceptive pills to suppress menstruation.