Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Scientists to EPA: Include Women in Reproductive Health Research

Oncofertility Consortium Logo

Oncofertility Consortium Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From the Northwestern University press release (October 17, 2012)


Northwestern scientists to meet with EPA to request important changes in guidelines

October 16, 2012 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO — A team of Northwestern University scientists will meet with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators in Washington D.C. Oct. 18 to advocate for important changes in the agency’s guidelines for reproductive health research.

“The problem is current research assessing the risk of toxins on reproductive health is not being uniformly investigated in both sexes and across the lifespan,” said Kate Timmerman, program director of the Oncofertility Consortium of Northwestern University, who will be one of the scientists meeting with the EPA. The reproductive health guidelines have not been updated since 1996 and need to be revised to reflect new research findings.

The Northwestern team will ask the EPA to expand the definition of reproductive health beyond pregnancy to include the lifespan of an individual.

“Reproductive health is important across the entire lifespan because your endocrine system affects your bone health, cardiovascular health and other systems in the body,” Timmerman said. Endocrine disrupters, sometimes triggered by environmental factors, can lead to increased risk for stroke and heart attack as well as osteoporosis.

The Northwestern scientists also will request that all EPA-sponsored research require appropriate testing in both sexes. Currently many toxicity studies are only conducted in male animal models with the assumption that females are affected the same way, but that isn’t necessarily true.

“What happens now is if researchers don’t see an effect in males, they won’t look in females,” Timmerman said. “But we know certain toxins in the environment can have a significant effect on females and not males and vice versa.”

Timmerman and colleagues will present a white paper to the EPA on how to improve and update the guidelines.

In addition to Timmerman, other Northwestern scientists meeting with the EPA

include Kimberly Gray, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern’s  McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; Mary Ellen Pavone, M.D., assistant

professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; and Francesca Duncan, reproductive scientist/research associate in the lab of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at the Feinberg School and director of the Oncofertility Consortium. Woodruff also is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.





October 18, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Women’s Health Week : May 8-14 2011

Women’s and the US Dept of Health and Human Services coordinate this annual event.

The announcement (and additional informational links) at It’s Your Time include the following

two women smiling

National Women’s Health Week

It’s your time!

National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. It brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women’s health. The theme for 2011 is “It’s Your Time.” National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. It also encourages them to take steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases. Those steps include:

  • Getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both, each week
  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Visiting a health care professional to receive regular checkups andpreventive screenings
  • Avoiding risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt
  • Paying attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress

Learn more about National Women’s Health Week.

In the news

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | | 1 Comment

Greater Health Risk Than Benefit Of Guns In The Home

From the 27 April 2011 Medical News Today article

Despite the fact that nearly one-third of American households have a firearm, studies show that having a gun in the home poses a household a greater health risk than a potential benefit. A new study released in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (published by SAGE) examined scientific research on both sides of the debate to put hard numbers to this on-going discussion.

Author David Hemenway studied the various risks of having a gun in the home, including accidents, suicide, homicide, and intimidation. Additionally, the benefits of having a firearm in a household were also examined and those benefits included deterrence, and thwarting crimes (self-defense). From this in-depth look, it was concluded that homes with guns were not safer or deter more crime than those that do not. In fact, it was found that in homes with children or women, the health risks were even greater.
“There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes, and it appears that a gun in the home may more likely be used to threaten intimates than to protect against intruders,” wrote Hemenway. “On the potential benefit side, there is no good evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in.”

The article entitled “Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home” from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine is available free for a limited time here.

[If the article is no longer free, click here for suggestions on how to get the article for free or at low cost]

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifetime of Good Health: Your Guide to Staying Healthy

Lifetime of Good Health: Your Guide to Staying Healthy

Picture of A Lifetime of Good Health Cover

This **online 67 page guide includes information on preventative screening tests and immunizations and risk factors. It is in pdf format. This guide offers you a plan for health at all stages of life.

Short informational “fact sheets” presented include the following topics:

  • Heart Disease/Heart Attack
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Health Conditions
  • Reproductive Health
  • Breast Cancer
  • Healthy Bones, Skin, Eyes
  • Mental Health
  • Dealing with Violence
  • Talking with your health care provider

Each topic includes easy to read tips. Many topics include phone numbers and Web sites for further information.

Spanish and Chinese language options may be found here.

** is the US federal government source for women health information.

April 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

New Jobs and Livelihoods Get Fistula Survivors on their Feet

New Jobs and Livelihoods Get Fistula Survivors on their Feet

[Editor’s note: While in Liberia 2 years ago, our Friends of Liberia group did service projects at the Methodist Mission Hospital in Ganta, Nimba County. One patient was suffering greatly from a fistula condition that was difficult to treat. ]

From the United Nations feature story

DRC/ LIBERIA/REPUBLIC OF CONGO — It takes more than an operation to get fistula survivors on their feet. First there’s a recovery period, two weeks on average, so that the patients can heal after surgery. But it’s often a job or a livelihood that really helps them reclaim their lives.

Because so many fistula survivors have been abandoned, excluded or shunned – often for years — a job or a business opportunity can mean renewed social connections and a sense of purpose, as well as a much needed livelihood.

That’s why UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, supports programmes that give former fistula patients skills to achieve real freedom from the legacy of fistula.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, former fistula patients are becoming skilled beauticians and dress makers.

In Liberia, fistula survivors are making and selling soap, flowers, baked goods, dresses and fabric.

In the Republic of Congo, there’s an individualized approach with a focus on business and management skills.

In all three countries, the women also receive coaching on the life skills that can help them become successful and overcome their tragic pasts.

“I lost all hope. I was abandoned by every member of my family. Now, some of them are beginning to relate to me,” says Nyamah Kollie, 39, one of the fistula survivors who benefited from the programme in Liberia after living with fistula for almost 20 years.

The difference a job makes

The change in Rebecca Mambweni’s life is striking. She was just 23 when she went through days of agonizing labour before a dead foetus was pulled from her uterus. The trauma to her birth canal left her incontinent .

“I lived for a year with fistula. I just stayed at home with my mum. Sometimes I could see her crying. No one wanted to be around me. My in-laws abandoned me,” she says. “They didn’t want to pay for an operation to fix me. All I could do was stay home. I couldn’t go outside just in case I urinated on myself. When I went outside people would laugh at me, pointing. It was like a prison. I sometimes felt it would just be better if I died and just be quiet somewhere else.”

Now, following her surgery and training as a beautician in DRC, she is employed and optimistic about her future:  “I work in this salon, the Salon of Hope. One day I’d really like to have a salon of my own. I’d really like all those people that laughed at me to see me now. I just want to live a normal life,” Ms. Mambweni says.

More than 350 fistula survivors have benefited from the social reintegration programme that has been put in place in DRC with UNFPA support, many of whom have been able to improve their living conditions with the training received.

In 2011, UNFPA will work with other UN agencies in DRC, like the International Labour Organization, to create a cooperative of women and girls that can generate more opportunities and bolster their enterprises. The efforts are part of the global Campaign to End Fistula, an initiative spearheaded by UNFA with a vast array of partners in 49 countries.

Baking up cakes and livelihoods in Liberia

Korpo Nelson, 39, a fistula survivor from Tubmanburg Bomi, Liberia, learned how to bake pastry while in the fistula training centre. She now sells her products to the patients in the same hospital where she was treated in 2009, after living with the condition for 23 years.

After her fistula was repaired, Lorpo Sumo, 40, needed a way to maintain herself and her three children. She learned how to bake and sells cakes to the local community. In the first two weeks after returning from the fistula rehabilitation centre in Monrovia, she earned $30, twice the national average monthly income.

More than 50 women have so far graduated from the social rehabilitation and reintegration programme in Liberia. Already one result is that about half of graduates are reunited with their husbands, whereas in the past the figure was closer to 25 per cent.

An individualized approach in the Republic of Congo

A fistula survivor receives a social reintegration kit.
Photo: UNFPA, Republic of Congo, 2010

Fistula survivors in the Republic of Congo can become seamstresses, learn how to market smoked fish, or develop a soap-making business. Those that come into the programme with existing skills get the help they need to build on them.

One of the key elements of the programme is the individualized approach. Clients sign an agreement to work with a tutor who can help them build a business based on their existing or desired skills. The signed agreement entitles them to a bank account and training in business and financial literacy, so they know how to keep their books.

Start-up kits provide them with essentials to begin a business of their choosing. For example, a seamstress might be given a sewing machine and fabric.

Social reintegration activities also help to ensure that there is proper follow-up and development.

As part of the training options offered by the programme in Liberia, fistula survivors can learn how to make soap, flowers, dresses and fabric. They can also become beauticians or learn backing techniques.

—Etienne Franca with support from the Country Offices in DRC, Liberia and Republic of Congo

Related Links

Campaign to End Fistula (with videos and fact sheets)

MedlinePlus- Fistulas

Friends of Liberia Travellers Gallery (photos from the Service Projects trip to Liberia in 2008, including hospitals & an album by this editor)

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Women’s Health Calendar

From the US Office on Women’s Health

It’s that time of year again! We’re taking orders for our free women’s health calendar. Request your free copy (in English or Spanish) online or call us at 800-994-9662 to request bulk copies.

Our 2011 women’s health calendar offers information about common health concerns for women, risk factors for disease, and ways to take charge of your health. This year, we’ve added reminder stickers to help you stay organized.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

National Women’s Health Week- May 9 to May 15, 2010

From:   About National Women’s Health Week

“National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. With the theme “It’s Your Time,” the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life.”

For those interested, here is how to send a National Women’s Health Week E-card.

The US federal agency has compiled a list of free, online,  related health resources for women which includes these areas: 
General Resources, Cancer, Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes, Lupus, Menopause, and Smoking.  
An interactive health screening tool is also available. 

Looking for additional free, reputable, online resources?
Try the Women’s Health topic page at MedlinePlus (US National Library of Medicine/ US National Institutes of Health)

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment


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