She Says Colonoscopy Is a Must as We Age

Colon cancer isn’t just a man’s disease, and writer Pat Olsen knows all about the risk to women. During March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, she describes her experience with regular screenings and encourages others to take the test.

New Era for Female Pols; Chemo Rations Shorted

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersThe influence of women in U.S. electoral politics bodes well for the entry of New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton into the presidential race, the Washington Post reported Jan. 21.In the last presidential election, 9 million more women than men voted. Although Clinton has had “rocky moments with female voters” in the past, a Jan. 19 Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that she has a 59 percent favorable rating among U.S. women nationwide. Among women over 55, Clinton’s approval rating has improved by 10 percentage points in the past year.

Breast Cancer Drops; Women Lack Birthing Care

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersBreast cancer rates in the United States dropped by 7 percent from 2002 to 2003, possibly as a result of millions of women who discontinued hormone replacement therapy, the Associated Press reported Dec. 15. The analysis was reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.Breast cancer cases dropped most among women 50 and older, the age group taking hormones. In 2003, there were only 124 cases per 100,000 women, the biggest decline in the breast cancer rate since the 1970s. That year, nearly 200,000 cases of breast cancer had been expected, but about 14,000 fewer women actually were diagnosed with the disease.The decline in the number of women taking hormone replacement therapy came just after publication of the Women’s Health Initiative trial in 2002, which revealed that health risks among recipients were elevated, especially for breast cancer and stroke.”This is big news,” said Dr. Jay Brooks of the Ochsner Health System, in Baton Rouge, La.

Bizwomen Ranks Rise; Breast Cancer Hits 1 in 7

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersU.S. Census Bureau statistics released Jan. 25 indicate that women started businesses at double the national rate between 1997 and 2002. The number of female-owned companies increased by 20 percent during this five-year period. By 2002, 6.5 million, or 30 percent, of all non-farm businesses in the U.S. were owned by women.The majority of these businesses were single-person enterprises but the number of mid-size and large companies owned by women also rose. Female-owned companies with more than $1 million in revenue went up by 18 percent and those with more than 100 employees went up by 10 percent during the same period.”What running your own business can give you is more flexibility and more control over your time,” Jonathan Leonard, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle, citing one possible factor behind this increase.More News to Cheer This Week:U.S. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., heeded the call of many women’s rights groups in opposing Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Breastfeeding Good for Moms Too; Gag Rule Expands

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersBreastfeeding mothers may have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The risk of contracting the most common form of diabetes was cut 15 percent for each year a woman breastfed her child. A year-long period appeared to be the critical factor; women who breastfed a single child for a year had a lower risk of diabetes than women who breastfed two children for shorter periods totaling a year.The study did not pinpoint a reason why breastfeeding reduced the risk, but researchers theorized that breastfeeding changes metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Mothers who breastfeed for longer periods may also have better health habits in general.”We’re talking about an intervention that doesn’t cost anything, has no side effects and has other potential benefits,” Alison Steube, the study’s lead author, told HealthDay News. “We found that breastfeeding is really good for mothers.”The study relied on data drawn from two nurses’ health studies that included more than 150,000 women and is the first to find a link between breastfeeding and diabetes.

Cancer Vaccine Works; Sex Assaults Flood Reserves

(WOMENSENEWS)–CheersResearchers have produced an experimental vaccine that is 100 percent effective in preventing two types of cervical cancer caused by a sexually-transmitted virus, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., Inc., announced on Thursday.Over 12,000 women aged 16 to 26 in 13 different countries participated in the study of the Gardasil vaccine. The vaccine targets human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, and types 6 and 11, which cause 90 percent of genital warts.The women, none of whom were previously infected with HPV, were separated into two groups in which they received either a three-dose vaccine regimen or a placebo and were followed for an average of two years following enrollment. Among the women who received the vaccine, none developed pre-cancerous lesions or cancer cells, while 21 women among the placebo group did.”This is very powerful evidence that a vaccine can actually prevent cervical cancer,” said Carol Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 10,500 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and another 3,700 will die from the disease this year.Other News to Cheer This Week:The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would reauthorize funding for a 1994 law aimed at preventing and prosecuting cases of domestic violence and assisting victims of abuse. The Violence Against Women Act keeps its focus on law enforcement but broadens its scope to include some new services, such as programs that would focus on Native Americans, immigrants and rural residents. The law stiffens penalties for repeat offenders, increases funding and helps break the cycle of violence through education, said Senator Joe Biden, D-Del., the bill’s sponsor.A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last week.