Friday Double Dose on Saturday: Breast Cancer Drop, New Military Health Clinic and Healthiest Places for Women to Live

By Christine Cupaiuolo — December 16, 2006

Breast Cancer Drop Linked to HRT: Rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped15 percent from August 2002 to December 2003, while rates for all breast cancer dropped by 7 percent, according to researchers. “The reason, they believe, may be because during that time, millions of women abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause after a large national study concluded that the hormones slightly increased breast cancer risk,” reports The New York Times.

See also: the National Cancer Institute website about menopausal hormone use and the Women’s Health Initiative study, which included nearly 17,000 women. It was halted prematurely when slight increases in breast cancer, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes were discovered.

Replacing One Male-Dominated Culture With Another: “The United States military has long prided itself on molding raw recruits into hardened soldiers. Perhaps none have undergone a transformation quite like that of Ms. Hamdan,” writes Andrea Elliott in The New York Times. Fadwa Hamdan’s story is nothing short of remarkable:

Forbidden by her husband to work, she raised five children behind the drawn curtains of their home in Saudi Arabia. She was not allowed to drive. On the rare occasions when she set foot outside, she wore a full-face veil.

Then her world unraveled. Separated from her husband, who had taken a second wife, and torn from her children, she moved to Queens to start over. Struggling to survive on her own, she answered a recruiting advertisement for the Army and enlisted in May.

Ms. Hamdan’s passage through the military is a remarkable act of reinvention. It required courage and sacrifice. She had to remove her hijab, a sacred symbol of the faith she holds deeply. She had to embrace, at the age of 39, an arduous and unfamiliar life.

Continue reading the story here.

Military Opens Women’s Health Clinic: The U.S. military has opened a new women’s health clinic on a military site in Germany, and it’s the first of its kind, reports Stars & Stripes.

“Although women’s health clinics are fairly common at civilian hospitals, the concept is relatively new in the military,” writes Scott Schonauer. “The new building will have nine exam rooms decorated with the type of color and style not often seen at most drab hospital wards. Exam tables will an extra feature: They’ll be heated. The center also will include a sex-assault suite that will offer 24-hour care for victims. The room will be stocked with testing kits and provide a more comfortable alternative to going to the emergency room.”

Still, U.S. law prohibits military facilities from performing abortions, even when privately funded to avoid using taxpayer funds. Such regulations put the health of women serving overseas at risk every day.

Hospitals in Violation: “Some Massachusetts facilities violate the year-old state law requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims by imposing “serious restrictions” on the treatment, according to a survey by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts,” reports the Boston Globe. According to the survey, “officials at 7 percent of the hospitals with emergency rooms contend the provision for emergency contraception may be left to the doctor’s discretion. Another 7 percent indicated that such provisions were contingent upon the woman undergoing a rape exam.”

Male Circumcision Cuts HIV Transmission: News that men who are circumcised are about 50 percent less likely to contract HIV, based on studies in Uganda and Kenya, sparked this response from Broadsheet’s Tracy Clark-Flory, who looks at arguments for and against circumcision. See also Carol Lloyd’s post on female infanticide in India.

The Skinny on Thin: Jessica Clark of In These Times on “Thin,” a documentary by Lauren Greenfield about patients at a residential center for eating disorders. “[The recovery] process can be circuitous and frustrating, with many false starts,” writes Clark. “Anorexia is the most deadly mental disorder; up to 20 percent of sufferers die from related complications. Some even court it: ‘I just want to be thin,’ says Alisa ‘If it takes dying to get there, so be it.'”

Suspected Prostitutes Paraded Through City Streets in China: “For people who saw the event on television earlier this month, the scene was like a chilling blast from a past that is 30 years distant: social outcasts and supposed criminals — in this case 100 or so prostitutes and a few pimps — paraded in front of a jeering crowd, their names revealed, and then driven away to jail without trial,” reports The New York Times. But the public effect wasn’t what officials hoped for, and an “angry nationwide backlash” has ensued.

Healthiest Places for Women: What do Honolulu, Portland, Maine; Nassau-Suffolk counties in New York; Orange County, Calif.; and Burlington, Vt. have in common? They’re the healthiest cities for women, according to Self magazine. Honolulu came in at no. 1. (Having lived in Burlington, I’m up for a site-test challenge.)

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