Tag Archives: diseases

Women: Second Class Citizens

First off- my apologies for the lack of updates; I’m still adjusting to my new work schedule- finding time for updates had been on the back burner. Now on to the infuriating article ahead.

For those of you paying attention to political parties these days, or to new and interesting laws seeming to creep up without the public ever knowing about their creation, this article will serve as a blood-boiling recap of the absurd and disgusting politics surrounding women and women’s health. If you have not been paying attention- hold on to your pantyhose, because you are not going to believe this sh*t.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House, that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they ‘naturally’ go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigsin the same situation.

I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.

Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.

Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while “dog and hog hunting,” in return for a young man’s chickens.

My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a ‘natural’ person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia’s and hundreds and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.

Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.

By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy.

I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights. What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.

The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It’s no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:

1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such violates her right to life.

2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women’s lives. “Let women die” bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women’s fundamental right to life.

3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to “special” laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.

4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman’s consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman’s bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.

5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.

6. Giving zygotes “personhood” rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the “best” environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment — the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.

7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women “pay” for their choices are abounding.

8. Allowing employers to delve into women’s private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (ie. as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support “personhood” related “pro-life” legislation and are fighting for their “religious liberty” — 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman’s right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.

9. Sacrificing women’s overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.

10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.

You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.

This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn’t disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his — largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.

This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don’t agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee’s insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me. You don’t like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don’t like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England’s farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I chose. That is my right.

Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality, defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills. Like anti-miscegentation laws, anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about “personhood” but “humanity.” That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise – their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.

This is about keeping women’s wombs public and in other people’s control — the exact opposite of private and in their own control.

And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will. Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.

And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.

Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.

In an 1851 speechin which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: “The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.”

Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is?

This post has been updated since its original publication.

 Follow Soraya Chemaly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schemaly



Eating Disorder Awareness Week


Sex Ed Now

Excellent infographic on Sex-Education- Please share!

Want to add this to your blog or website? You can find all the links to do so here: http://www.publichealthdegree.com/reproductive-health-education/

Colon Cancer Prevention

Every year, over 145,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer in America, and approximately 50,000 people die from it annually. These numbers are becoming staggering and ever higher as time progresses. It is becoming essential to add a colonoscopy to your annual physical exam- it is still the best way to find cancer before it spreads. Read on:

Resolve to Take Colon Cancer Test, Experts Say

If you’re 50 or older, consider making it a new year goal to get screened for colorectal cancer, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy suggests.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers because most cases arise from precancerous growths in the colon called polyps. These can be found during a screening exam and removed before they turn into cancer.

Recent research has confirmed that screening is one reason why colorectal cancer death rates are declining, according to an ASGE news release.

Compared to 2002, about 66,000 cases of colorectal cancer were prevented and 32,000 lives were saved in the United States between 2003 and 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of the prevented cases and deaths were the result of screening.

However, one in three U.S. adults isn’t screened for colorectal cancer, which is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

In many cases, colorectal cancer causes no symptoms until it is too late to treat. Age is the most important risk factor for the disease, so even older people with healthy lifestyles need to get screened.

If you’re 50 or older, talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening and the method that is best for you, the ASGE advises. Screening methods include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, stool blood tests, stool DNA, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) and barium enema.

Screening should begin at an earlier age for people with risk factors such as a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer. Some experts recommend that black Americans being screening at age 45.

Colonoscopy is considered the preferred method because it is the only test that both detects and removes precancerous polyps during the same exam. A person at average risk with normal colonoscopy results shouldn’t require another exam for 10 years. Screenings may be more frequent for patients found to have polyps or cancer.

– Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, news release, December 2011/ http://news.health.com/2012/01/06/resolve-to-take-colon-cancer-test-experts-say/

How’s The Air Over There?

As an asthma sufferer, I have all my bases covered (as much as I can anyways). I take a daily inhaler to maintain my asthma, I keep an emergency inhaler in my purse, my gym bag and next to my bed, I run HEPPA filters in several rooms, I have an Air Quality Alert app on my phone, and my homepage on my internet browser is AIRNow.gov. But that’s the best I can do- I can’t alter the air outside of my home  and living where I do, I certainly wish I could. This article, written by Christopher Helman and re-published by msnbc offers up the 20 most polluted cities in America.

Cough … the 20 most polluted cities in America

California is a leader in places where sometimes the air isn’t fit to breathe

California has gone to extremes to improve the state’s air quality, pushing out coal-fired power plants and implementing the strictest auto emissions standards in the nation. L.A.’s persistent smog layer may be a shadow of its former self, but it hasn’t been enough. Lots of people and too many cars means California still has seven big cities that rank among the 20 most polluted in the nation.

L.A. ranks No. 2 on our list of America’s Dirtiest Cities, and San Diego is no. 9, but some of the worst air in the country is in smaller cities in the San Joaquin Valley, where a ring of mountains traps a stagnant stew of ozone and particulate matter. According to data that Forbes crunched from The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2011 report, the most hazardous breathing in America is in Bakersfield. Hot, dusty, adjacent to California’s biggest oil fields, Bakersfield has 60 days a year of unhealthy air, 10 times a level considered acceptable. Its ozone levels are better than at any time in the past 15 years, but still unhealthy for 100 days out of the year.

By contrast, Houston (No. 18) has 25 bad ozone days a year while New York (No. 14) suffers just 17, down from 40 a decade ago).

The Lung Association figures that half of the U.S. population lives in places where the air is sometimes unfit to breathe, contributing to asthma and lung cancer. And death. The data show that more people die of respiratory ailments on bad-air days.

Hold on folks, help is on the way. California and the federal government are set to embark on some giant regulatory experiments that could help clean the air. The concern is, at what cost?

First California. In late October, California’s Air Resources Board cleared the last legal hurdles to launch a statewide carbon cap-and-trade regime. Emissions will be capped and emitters will receive permits covering roughly 90 percent of their effluent; if they want to pollute more, they’ll have to buy permits on an exchange. The more cuts made, the more permits available.

The air resources board figures that they’ll be overseeing $10 billion in annual carbon trading by 2016. The objective is to reduce California’s emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The law also requires emissions cuts for vehicles, more efficient appliances and for the state to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Then there’s Washington, D.C. This month the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a series of new rules that have power plant operators quaking. They will govern the emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury, arsenic and other toxins, and will require power plants to use maximum available technology to control what comes out of their stacks.

The EPA issued drafts of their rules earlier this year, and the industry has run the numbers. Critics fear that green goals will trump economic realities and that the rules will cripple power generation and kill jobs.

Coal-fired power plants will likely be the hardest hit. Electric power giant AEP says the new rules will likely affect 525 plants that produce 25 percent of U.S. electricity. FBR Capital Markets expects that plant owners will close 50 gigawatts of coal plants rather than invest in costly emissions overhauls. Bernstein Research is even more pessimistic, expecting 66 gigawatts, or 20 percent of all coal generation to be mothballed.

This could lead to some real air improvements in places like Louisville, Ky. (No. 11), and Knoxville, Tenn. (No. 15). Already Louisville Gas & Electric says it plans to mothball an old coal plant, while the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to take 11 of its 59 coal units offline. Philadelphia (No. 12) too should breathe easier soon; the Portland Generating Station outside of Philly has already been ordered by the EPA to reduce its massive sulfur dioxide emissions by 81 percent in three years.

Naturally, power plant operators complain about having to make costly investments in new technology to scrub pollutants out of their waste stream. And in California oil refiners resent that their cash will have to go to buy emissions permits instead of investments in emissions controls.

The green lobby has no sympathy. The EPA says that such investments will pay broad dividends to society, figuring that every dollar spent on pollution control will bring $30 in savings on health care.

State leaders aren’t so sure. In Texas, which relies heavily on coal generation, Gov. Rick Perry has sued the EPA to block implementation of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, which would force Texas to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that waft from Texas coal plants into neighboring states. In a letter to President Obama in September, Perry said complying with the rule would have an “immediate and devastating effect on Texas jobs, our economy and our ability to supply the electricity our citizens, schools and employers need.” Texas already suffered rolling blackouts this year when power demand exceeded supply.

Perry’s not alone. So far 25 states have urged the EPA to delay issuing rules until their economic impact is better understood.

And if the lights go out in Texas? It won’t be for long. Let the EPA and California push the nation away from coal. The solution is already here, in the form of cheap, plentiful, clean-burning natural gas. Compared with coal and nuclear, building gas-fired power plants is cheap.

Now if only we can get that gas “fracking” controversy cleared up. The EPA is looking at that one, too.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45279476/ns/business-going_green/#.TtdDA_I2yuJ

Fill Up On Fiber

Short little article and listing of Fiber content from NCSF:

Rich Fiber Diets

More evidence suggests a diet rich in fiber sources reduces risk of colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer worldwide with 1.2 million new cases diagnosed each year. It has been well established that a higher intake of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease but the relationship with cancer was not clearly supported. It has been presumed for nearly four decades that dietary fiber played a role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer but studies attempting to demonstrate the relationship have not been consistent.

UK and Dutch researchers investigated the association between intake of dietary fiber and whole grains and risk of colorectal cancer as part of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research’s Continuous Update Project (CUP).The recent findings were published in the British Journal of Medicine (2011). Based on the findings, researchers suggest that fiber is an essential component to human health and believe the new evidence provides further support for public health recommendations to increase fiber intake. Although the overall reductions in risk of colorectal cancer were small, researchers suggest that fiber from cereal and whole grains are relevant in the prevention of colorectal cancer. According to the study, there was a clear gradient in risk associated with the amount of dietary fiber consumed; compared with the lowest levels of total dietary fiber intake, each 10 g/day increase in intake was associated with a 10% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer. Adding three servings (90 g/day) of whole grains was associated with about a 20% reduction in risk. Common whole-grain foods include high-fiber breads and cereals, oatmeal, and brown rice. Most agree that the fiber should come from its natural-occurring source instead of fortified products which have gained recent popularity.

According to investigators, increasing intake of dietary fiber and whole grains is also linked with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, and possibly overall mortality suggesting there are several health benefits by increasing fiber intake and replacing refined grains with whole grains. However, the authors still believe that further research is needed to explain the biological mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of these foods in detail and to study barriers to increasing the intake of whole grain products in World diets.

Good sources of fiber include:


Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*


1 cup


Pear, with skin

1 medium


Apple, with skin

1 medium


Strawberries (halves)

1 1/4 cup



1 medium



1 medium


Figs, dried

2 medium



2 tablespoons


Grains, cereal & pasta

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*

Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked

1 cup


Barley, pearled, cooked

1 cup


Bran flakes

3/4 cup


Oat bran muffin

1 medium


Oatmeal, quick, regular or instant, cooked

1 cup


Popcorn, air-popped

3 cups


Brown rice, cooked

1 cup


Bread, rye

1 slice


Bread, whole-wheat or multigrain

1 slice


Legumes, nuts & seeds

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*

Split peas, cooked

1 cup


Lentils, cooked

1 cup


Black beans, cooked

1 cup


Lima beans, cooked

1 cup


Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked

1 cup


Sunflower seed kernels

1/4 cup



1 ounce (23 nuts)


Pistachio nuts

1 ounce (49 nuts)



1 ounce (19 halves)



Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*

Artichoke, cooked

1 medium


Peas, cooked

1 cup


Broccoli, boiled

1 cup


Turnip greens, boiled

1 cup


Sweet corn, cooked

1 cup


Brussels sprouts, cooked

1 cup


Potato, with skin, baked

1 medium


Tomato paste

1/4 cup


Carrot, raw

1 medium


Source MayoClinic

*Fiber content can vary between brands.

Direct Link: http://www.ncsf.org/BlogArticles/0-55/RichFiberDiets.aspx

Say Goodbye to the Flu

Flu break-through on the horizon.

Scientists Create the Definitive Flu Killer

University of Texas Southwestern’s scientists have created a new flu vaccine that can protect us against any kind of flu, not just one type. Unlike the current type of vaccines, this can even protect us if the virus mutates.

That’s the big problem of the current vaccines: every year, medical experts guess what’s going to be the dominant flu strain and create a vaccine using a weakened version of that virus. When it gets injected, our body gets to know the weakened virus safely, producing cells that can neutralize that virus if a real attack occurs. The problem is that, if that virus mutates, this prevention becomes useless. That is why people may get the flu even when they are vaccinated.

The team led by Dr. Beatrice Fontoura took a completely different approach:

What we are doing is something different. We are actually stimulating our own response which is already there – boost it – to fight an infection.

Their solution boosts our natural immunological system, targeting a protein in our bodies called REDD-1. Fontoura’s team discovered that, when REDD-1 levels are low in a cell, the flu virus can easily infect the cell. The vaccine increases the protein’s levels, creating a shield that is impossible for the virus to penetrate.

According to the team, the new vaccine is so effective that it can even protect us against the Spanish Flu, the H1N1 influenza virus that killed between 50 and 100 million in 1918, mostly healthy young adults. Another deadly H1N1 virus was the Swine Flu, which may have infected 11% to 21% of the world’s population in 2009.

Sadly, the vaccine is still not ready for mass distribution yet. They have to complete the usual FDA procedures to be introduced in the market, a process that may take years.

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5856999/scientist-create-the-definitive-flu-killer

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