Women's Health Snapshots: Breast Health

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Women's Health Activist Newsletter
March/April 1997

In 1993, 44% of women age 70 and over had had a clinical breast exam and a mammogram within the last two years; this is up from just 18% in 1987. The leading causes of death in 1993 for people aged 65 and older (in order) were heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, and finally unintentional injuries. According to 1994 statistics, after age 65, healthy women live an average of 13.5 years, while unhealthy women live only 5.4 years past 65.
Healthy People 2000 Progress Review: Older Adults, Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Services, May 30, 1996.

Young women born between 1966 and 1975 are eight times more likely to have experienced depression by age 21 than women born between 1936 and 1945.
Psychiatric Disorders Among American Women: A New Assessment, Women's Research and Education Institute, 1996.

Electronic fetal monitoring was used in 80% of all live births in 1994, making it the most widespread obstetrical procedure performed that year. This is the fifth year in a row that the use of electronic fetal monitors has risen.
Monthly Vital Statistic Report, 996; 44(11S):15-16, 68.

A recent study of African-American women showed that a change from a typical North American diet to a low-fat, high-fiber diet will lower serum estrogen levels. African-American women seem to have higher levels of serum hormones than Caucasian women. Researchers speculate that this might explain why African-American women under the age of 40 have a higher risk of breast cancer than any other ethnicity in that age group.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol.88, No. 19, October2, 1996, pp 1369-1374 and 1332-1333.

Latinas and African-American women aged 35 and over are less likely than white and Asian-American women to undergo amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to test for chromosomal abnormalities. This is true even after controlling for socioeconomic status and patient or partner occupation. Latinas and African-American women over the age of 35 are more likely to give birth to a Down syndrome-affected infant than white women in that age group. These differences between racial-ethnic groups may be due to differences in attitudes toward prenatal testing, pregnancy termination, and/or raising a disabled child or may be due to African-American women and Latinas not receiving adequate and culturally sensitive information about testing.
Obstetrics & Gynecology ,May 1996, 87, pp. 675-682.

The U.S. military has a long-standing policy of transferring pregnant service members out of situations in which troops have been deployed. Because of the military's failure to supply troops the Persian Gulf with sufficient contraceptives (few pills were available and there was no formal system for dispensing condoms), more military women were evacuated out of the Persian Gulf because of pregnancy than for all other reasons combined.
Women's Health Issues, Nov/Dec 1996, pp. 355-358.

In one of the largest studies ever to ask middle-aged and older women about their sexuality, heterosexual women who were widowed, divorced, or separated reported being more satisfied with their sexuality than married women. The authors speculated that women are more likely to have higher levels of sexual functioning in a new relationship than one which has lasted for many years. The authors also noted that the length of time since menopause had no effect on women's sexuality. 11 % of the women studied were women of color.
Journal of Women s Health, October, 1996, pp. 445-455.

Despite the fact that the recommended core educational guidelines for medical residents training in family practice include learning to do first trimester abortions, a recent study shows that only 12% of such residency programs in the United States offered abortion training during the 1993-94 academic year.
Pamela Talley, MD and George Bergus, MD. "Abortion Training in Family Practice Residency Programs," Family Medicine, April 1996, pp. 245-8.


Date Published: 
Mon, March 03, 1997