Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Sonja Herbert
by Kathy Kulkami
Thalidomide is back. In 1960, the drug was rejected for approval by the FDA thanks to the heroic efforts of Dr. Frances Kelsey. It became apparent that the drug caused appalling birth defects in children whose mothers were exposed to thalidomide during pregnancy. On September 4th and 5th, the FDA Dermatologic Drugs Advisory Committee met to evaluate the efficacy, safety and risk/benefit analysis of thalidomide use in a leprosy-associated condition, called ENL (erythema nodosum leprosum).
About YOUR Health- Questions and Answers from the NWHN Women's Health Information Clearinghouse: Osteoporosis
Q: Are all women at risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures after menopause? What can be done to help change these risk factors besides hormone replacement therapy? For example, can natural preuentative measures decrease the risks?
Women enrolled in HMOs were more likely to have breast conserving surgery for breast cancer than women whose care was paid for by traditional fee-for-service insurance. The study was conducted in Seattle and the Bay Area and included over 13,000 women with breast cancer, all of whom were 65 years or older.
The Breast Cancer Prevention Program
Samuel Epstein, MD and David Steinman. $24.95. 416 pages. Great title and great premise a comprehensive guide to both personal prevention and political activism. Unfortunately, the guide suffers from editing errors and selective reporting. Take advantage of chapters on topics as diverse as ERT, workplace hazards, diet, tamoxifen, and breast implants but doublecheck the references.
Physician Assistants and Women's Health
Recently, Network members have asked whether we accept matching contributions from members' employers. Yes, we can accept matching contributions. Please contact Beverly Thomas if you would like to know more about this program. And if you happen to be employed by a computer company, we would love to talk to you about computer donations! Thanks to all the members who have contacted us about various ways to support the Network
Breast cancer is more common in women who live in the San Francisco Bay Area than the rest of the U.S. and rates are approximately 50% higher than in most European countries. But the incidence varies by race and ethnicity. From 1988-1993, the rate per 100,000 women was 128 for whites, 102 for blacks, 86 for Japanese, 83 for Latinas, 76 for Filipinas, and 69 for Chinese women. Survival also varied by ethnicity, even when tumors were found early.
by Anna Choi
About YOUR Health- Questions and Answers from the NWHN Women's Health Information Clearinghouse: Diet Drugs
Q: I have heard a lot about diet drugs in the news recently. Why the sudden fuss?
Just as we went to press, the Network learned that the FDA has ruled favorably on our terbutaline pump petition. The FDA agreed with our assessment of the science and has said explicitly that the terbutaline pump is potentially dangerous and has not been shown to work. The FDA is sending letters to practitioners, home health care companies and insurers alerting them to the status of the terbutaline pump. The FDA is also investigating the promotional activities of companies which provide terbutaline pumps.
by Carolyn V. Brown
Managed care and health maintenance organizations are with us for the time being. Once enrolled in a managed care plan, women are being asked to "choose your primary care provider PCP)" in order to access the health and medical system.
by Lisa Cox
Do douching products make women more susceptible to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and cervical cancer? The Network thinks so and now a recent review of 30 years of scientific study on the risks of douching adds even further credence to our concerns.
"Expanding Options: A Reproductive and Sexual Health Survey of Asian American Women" This booklet reports on the results of a 1996 survey of 670 Asian American women from more than 20 Asian ethnicities about their experience with reproductive and sexual health issues. The survey was done in California and the major findings of the survey showed that many Asian American women are not utilizing reproductive and sexual health services, even though contrary to popular stereotypes, many Asian American women are sexually active.
by Lourdes Rivera
As more people are enrolled in managed care plans through their private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, it is important for consumers to obtain more information and to understand how managed care works. The primary manager of managed care should be the patient. We all must be ready to take a more active role in making health decisions and in advocating for the services that we think we need. Our goal is to help you work with your health care providers in obtaining and managing your own health care.
by Jane Sprague Zones and Susan Rennie
Blueberries have been found to have the highest antioxidant score out of 40 fruits, juices and vegetables in a series of studies by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Strawberries, Concord grape juice, kale and spinach showed top potential.
Self "Nutrition Journal” July 1997pg. 65
Polly Strand, Gualala, CA
Even though women die as the result of breast cancer every twelve minutes, how they die is shrouded in mystery because it is considered "morbid" to discuss the dying process in our culture.
The Yeast Connection and the Woman by William G. Crook, M.D.,
Professional Books, Inc., 1995.748 pages.
Reviewed by Abigail Wolfson, January intern.
You think you're behind on your correspondence. The FDA has just responded to a 3-page citizen petition the Network filed in 1988. No, it's not a postal service problem.
Should condoms with radically new designs be tested for effectiveness before they are approved? Although most women's health advocates would consider that question a no-brainer, apparently it's a tough one for the FDA.
The lawsuit filed by Matria Healthcare against the Network is still alive as we go to press. Soon after the suit was filed, the Network requested that the case be dismissed. Our lawyers, Leslie Bryan of Doffremyre, Shields, Canfield, Knowles and Devine, and Gerald Weber of the ACLU of Georgia presented oral arguments on our behalf at a hearing in April. The judge has not yet issued a decision. Many thanks to the hundreds of Network supporters who have made donations to enable us to continue our work.