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In a decision that could have significant consequences for public health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering revisions to the rules governing drug labeling and marketing. Given the Bush administration's record, public health advocates are concerned that the agency will accede to drug makers' demands for further curbs on its oversight authority, setting the stage for more debacles along the lines of menopause hormone therapy and the misinformation that steered millions of women to take it for years.
Last summer the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shattered millions of women's illusions about hormone replacement therapy's long-term effects, by revealing that hormones increase women's risk for breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and heart attacks. In March, the WHI shattered any remaining illusions when it announced that hormone therapy's alleged short-term benefits— relief from depression and memory loss, and greater vitality and sexual satisfaction— are largely bunk as well.
From Obscurity to Oprah How a Patient Advocacy Movement Put a Little-Known Health Condition on the Map
by Leah Thayer
Interview byArielle Lutwick
In September 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the drug also known as RU486, for medical (non-invasive) early abortion. Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is needed fora pregnancy to continue. When used in conjunction with another drug, misoprostol, the method is effective for ending unwanted pregnancy between 92 and 98 percent of the time.
Sisters in Shape: Making the Change One Step at a Time A Grassroots Approach to Black Women's Health and Fitness
by Kimberly J. Lau
What else can women do to prevent heart disease? The Network gets this question often in the aftermath of the Women's Health Initiative, which found conclusively that hormone replacement therapy is not effective in reducing a woman's risk of developing heart disease. We've written this article to share what is currently known about heart disease, and to encourage women to take sensible steps to reduce their own risk of developing the disease.
Number-One Killer: But When?
A unique government-media initiative in France aims to wipe women's magazines clean of glamorous images of smoking. "Smoke-Free Women" ("Femmes Sans Fumee") targets the estimated 28 percent of French women who smoke regularly. Through it, leading publications including Marie Claire, Elle, Prima, Cote Femme and Madams Figaro pledge not to run editorial content depicting tobacco in a positive light, as well as to:
by Georgana Hanson
by Regan Murphy and Amy Allina
Reproductive rights advocates nationwide were alarmed in October by news reports that President Bush had selected Dr. W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (PDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Hager is a practicing obstetrician- gynecologist, and sources told Time magazine that in his private practice he does not prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. He is also the author of a book suggesting that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome seek help by reading the Bible and praying.
by Leah Thayer
Deaths from lupus have risen significantly in the past 20 years, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC review of lupus deaths from 1979-1998 found an increase from 879 in 1979 to 1,406 in 1998. The increase was most prominent—70 percent—for African American women ages 45 to 64. Lupus is most common in women and often most severe in African American women.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 3, 2002
By Cindy Pearson
Long-time newsletter readers know that tamoxifen can cause cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), and for that and other reasons the Network opposes its widespread use in healthy women. However, a new analysis of several large studies of tamoxifen confirms that it also causes a much rarer and more deadly form of cancer of the uterus.
By Cindy Pearson
By Jane Sprague Zones
Pap smears are an imperfect method of detecting cervical cancer, but liquid-based cytologies may not be much better—in fact, their high costs and frequent false positives could deter more women from seeking screening.
Estrogen/Progestin Combination HRT Causes Breast Cancer
On July 9, 2002, officials from the National Institutes of Health announced that one form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Prempro, had been found to cause breast cancer in previously healthy women. These women were volunteer participants in the Women's Health Initiative, the largest and longest ever trial of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and HRT.
Questions and Answers from the NWHN Women's Health Information Clearinghouse
Q. As a sexually active lesbian, I have been told that I do not need to have regular Pap smears and that I am not at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Are these things true? If not, how can I protect myself?
Women who experience obstructed labor are safer delivering vaginally. A study of women in England who required vaginal instrumental delivery or had a cesarean delivery found that unless there are clear signs that the infant's head is too large to easily pass through the birth canal, assisted vaginal delivery with instruments is safer than cesarean section. Women who had cesarean delivery were at increased risk for hemorrhage and were more likely to remain in the hospital for longer periods than women who delivered vaginally.
By Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D.