Opponents of reproductive choice have been attempting to frighten women in recent years by touting a medically unsupported link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. Despite evidence to the contrary and lack of support for the claim from research scientists and breast cancer activists, anti-choice organizations have been trying to disseminate the message to women through advertising campaigns, so-called informed consent laws, and even through the National Cancer Institute.
See also our fact sheet on Vaccines for HPV and Cervical Cancer
If every woman in the world received adequate health care, almost no one would die of cervical cancer. Unless a woman's immune system is compromised, cervical cancer progresses very slowly and can be detected long before it is even potentially life-threatening. Effective treatments exist for pre-cancerous conditions and cervical cancer diagnosed at an early stage. And yet cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the third world. In the United States 12,900 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 4,400 women die of it. It is nearly twice as common in African American women as in white women(1).
Depo Provera & Bone Mineral Density
By Susan K. Flinn, MA
For decades, women’s health advocates have been concerned about the safety of Depo-Provera, the progesterone-based contraceptive shot (the shot). Some of the earliest concerns sparked by findings from animal studies have been laid to rest by carefully conducted clinical research, like studies showing that Depo does not increase women’s risk of breast cancer.i The findings about Depo’s effect on women’s bone mineral density, however, continue to raise troubling questions about the safety of this drug.
What are fibroids?
Common name: Uterine Fibroids
Medical name: Uterine Leiomyomata (pronounced you-ter-in lie-oh-my-oh-mah-tah)
Uterine fibroids are tumors or lumps made of muscle cells and other tissue that grow within the walls of the uterus. Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. A single fibroid can be less than one inch in size or can grow to eight inches across or more. A bunch or cluster of fibroids can all vary in size. Uterine fibroids are the most common, non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age.
Hot flashes, the most common symptom of menopause, are probably the one that aggravates women the most. While some women never have hot flashes and others have mild or infrequent hot flashes, some women experience dozens each day. Severe hot flashes can make it difficult to get a full night’s sleep, which, in turn, affects women’s mood and concentration, and can cause other physical problems.
Hysterectomy in the United States: Facts and Figures
The United States has the highest rate of hysterectomy in the industrialized world, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure (after cesarean section) for U.S. women. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million American women have had a hysterectomy . Studies show that anywhere from 10 to 90 percent of hysterectomies performed in the United States are not medically necessary, evidenced by the fact that today, approximately 90 percent of hysterectomies are performed electively . The National Women's Health Network (NWHN) believes that unnecessary hysterectomies have put women at risk needlessly, and that health care providers should recognize the value of a woman's reproductive organs beyond their reproductive capacity and search for hysterectomy alternatives before resorting to life-changing operations.
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.
Since the early 2000s, the use of menopausal hormone therapy has continued to decline after the initial findings of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) showed an increased risk of breast cancer and serious cardiac events with the use of estrogen plus progestin. The decline in MHT has been paralleled by a concomitant decrease in breast cancer incidence rates. Following the release of WHI results, there was a sharp decline in breast cancer incidence rates in the US1,2 .