Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dying Young for Breast Implants

So not worth it -->

Gawker tells the sad story of an 18-year-old Florida cheerleader who died on Saturday as a result of complications from her breast implants.

That blog focuses on the sick sense of satisfaction the unpopular kids can get out of this event, but to me, it's all incredibly tragic. This girl had everything: she was a beautiful, talented gymnast, a straight-A student, who was headed for the pre-med track at the University of Florida. Struck down in the prime of her life for bigger boobs.

One interesting wrinkle: Her parents bought her these implants as a gift. I should find this shocking, but sadly, I don't, since I've heard about parents doing this before. Apparently, it's a cute little trend. (Please reference the oddly yet aptly named Lulu, a breast implant beneficiary who sounds like a Rhodes scholar when she states, "...when I graduated, my parents were like, all right, congratulations, you got a boob job.")

I don't want to pontificate, but this really is a symptom of our sick society. I'm only 30, but when I was 18 (a mere 12 years ago), I was pleased that my parents gifted their beat-up old station wagon to me! (Don't even try to imagine what that did for my street cred.) Sure, I was concerned about my bod, but do you think it ever occurred to me that my dear old dad would sponsor surgery that would insert pouches into my chestal area for the purpose of a larger rack? All of which would result in the attraction of boys who wanted only one thing?? He would have chained me to the radiator first!

I'm sure parents have their reasons. Apparently, some of them feel breast enlargement surgery gives their daughters more confidence in a society where they are judged by their beauty. That may be, but whose standard of beauty is it? Why can't they encourage confidence in the form of scholastic achievements, athletic success, etc.?? Hopefully this sad story will serve as a wake-up call to people who think this kind of behavior is normal.

As for me, I've never loved my own B-minus bra size so much in my life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Do You Know (Anything) About HPV?

--> Turning 30 involves more than just doubling up on the wrinkle cream.

By now you must have seen one of those pharmaceutical commercials about HPV, and have some murky idea that alot of young women have it and that mothers need to help their daughters prevent it. But it's all probably very vague and hasn't affected you all that much.

Would you be surprised to know that one of your friends, well out of her teenage years, probably has it? If not three of your friends?

Well, what the heck is HPV?

Let's get scientific: Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and is particularly easy to catch because it's not only spread through sex but pure genital contact.

That's right, heavy petting. So, if you're in the backseat of the car at the drive-in but have not yet gone all the way, you too can experience the consequences of HPV in the form of genital warts or worse, cancer.

In reality, most women who become infected won't even know they have it and will clear the infection on their own. However, some of these women will advance to cervical cancer, because of this very lack of symptoms. And some serious myths about HPV itself are at work here, as per a survey conducted among 1,000 women age 20 and older between Dec. 20, 2007, and Jan. 6, 2008.

“One of the myths revealed was that women think they’re out of the woods if they've been in a long-term relationship. In fact, however, HPV can stay in the body for many years. It only takes one relationship for an infection to take hold,” says Susan Wysocki, NP, president and CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) .

“Another myth revealed by the survey is that women don't think they need the HPV test if they've had normal Pap smears all their lives. However, the Pap isn’t foolproof. It’s still possible to suddenly discover you have invasive cancer despite a history of normal Paps. Getting the HPV test along with your Pap if you’re over 30 – when you are most at risk -- provides maximum peace of mind.”

While one way to prevent HPV, and STD's in general, is to be abstinent (holla President Bush!), this is not a realistic option for many red-blooded women. Luckily, the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is available to help, although it must be accompanied by regular screening with a Pap Smear (in tandem with the HPV test).

Up to a point. The upsetting part is that right now, the vaccine is only covered by insurance for girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26. This ignores the fact that women older than 30 are most at risk of developing cervical cancer.

Additionally, these most-at-risk 30+ women are:

· Half as likely as their younger counterparts to recall speaking to their doctors or nurses about HPV and its link to cervical cancer. They also are less knowledgeable about the virus.

· Although 90 percent of women 30 and older considered themselves somewhat or very familiar with the preventive tests they need, 58 percent had not heard of the HPV test, and 86 percent did not recall their doctors or nurses ever talking to them about the test.

· Yet, the older a woman is, the more confident she is that her doctor or nurse is giving her all of the preventive tests she needs.

If you are over 26, you still can get the vaccine, it's just going to cost you big bucks (i.e. hundreds of dollars).

The upshot? The HPV test should be a lifelong habit. I'm going to sound like a commercial and say - talk to your doctor about whether you should get the vaccine (even if you need to pay it for yourself if you're not in the targeted age group). And please, be safe!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Has The World Gone Crazy? Or Have I Just Had Too Much Coffee?

--> Who's afraid of the Big Black Java Monster?? Not me, I'm more afraid of H20!

Today is shaping up to a be truly odd day.

FIRSTLY, I awoke to the news that prescription drugs were found in drinking water across the U.S. According to CNN, these are the story highlights:

-Investigation finds pharmaceuticals in drinking water of 41 million Americans - This includes 24 major metropolitan areas - from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit, Michigan, to Louisville, Kentucky. As a selfish Manhattanite, I'm comforted by the fact that Kentucky is out. But Northern New Jersey?? Fort Lee is very close to home!!

-Concentrations are minute; utilities say water is safe - The concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Still, do you feel comforted knowing that there are itty bits of anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications floating around in the cute tumbler you bought on sale at Target (Tar-jay, sorry)???

A sex hormone was even detected in the drinking water of San Francisco, California. I'm just not going there.

-Low-level drug combinations are found to impact human cells and wildlife - While not delving into specifics, CNN states that results of recent studies have been 'alarming.'

-Bottlers, some of who repackage tap water, do not typically treat, test for drugs - A little bit of that nice mood-stabilizing carbamazepine might be floating around in your pretty bottle of designer water.

Just how the heck does this happen? As we all know, people take pills. (They like pills very much. Pills make them happy.) Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.

What does this mean for us? Science is unclear, and I really am at a loss. I've always had faith in the amazing New York tap water, but I am unsettled by the idea that drinking the requisite eight glasses a day will not lead to the promised glowing skin. Could it be that through the magic of a refreshing glass of testosterone water, I will instead wake up one morning with a horrifying mustache??

My advice to you is to keep a close eye on the news. And although I am a fan of pure water straight from the faucet, it might be wise to get a Brita.

SECONDLY, New York City Governor Eliot Spitzer has been linked an extensive prostitution ring that is operated from New York to Paris. According to The NY Times, our esteemed Governor, Time magazine's "Crusader of the Year" and the tabloid "Elliot Ness," was allegedly a client of the Ladies of the Night.

This is a man with three daughters. As a citizen, but moreover, as a woman, I'm pretty shocked and appalled. I know we're all human and have sexual impulses, but show some restraint! I can't help but think that a female governor would not be caught patronizing a House of Gigolos, but I am no expert.

(He should have calmed down and had a glass of water. Oh wait, maybe not.)

THIRDLY, on a more personal note, I attended a college reunion on Saturday. My good friend and I were the only single women; the others were either married or married and pregnant. My friend and I are good sports about these things and are happy for them. However, we couldn't help but be slightly bored by their endless discussions about pregnancy, delivery methods and nursing. Not to mention the cost of tuition.

To shake things up a bit, and also because I've always been curious, I inquired about whether a woman's anatomy (to put it nicely) bounces back to normal after giving birth? Is it elastic or does is just dangle (picture that!)? After all, a rush hour train has just barrelled through that wee passage! No one really answered me but I did a little internet research, and I am clearly not the only one thinking about this. Happily, conventional wisdom seems to be that everything goes back to normal, at least for most women.

FINALLY, having consumed quite the serving of iced coffee, I couldn't help but wonder (to echo Carrie Bradshaw), if my feeling of strangeness had to do with all the caffeine I had sluiced through a straw. Is it bad for you or not? According to science, it's really not the greatest thing to consume.

It has the potential to make you:

-dizzy; and

Clearly, caffeine might have contributed to my unsettled feeling. Still, today's women's health developments and the news at large were certainly a little unusual. I'll be off to the gym soon, to exercise this odd feeling away.

Moral of the Story: Exercise cures all.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ladies: Don't Take Bad Hair Lying Down! (And take the poll at the bottom of this page!)

---> Christian Siriano (of Project Runway) embraces his questionable hair. But that aint me!

Once again, I take to this blog to rally us women to be self-loving and assertive.

The reason is that today, I purposefully went to my favorite salon to have my hair highlighted. The salon is in Long Island and it is a loooong trek away, but I was excited because my roots have been showing for a while and I am sooo ready to be glam again.

They usually do a great job, but unfortunately, I went with a different stylist than usual and she did a poor job. A very poor job. My roots are still showing and I am very, very upset, especially considering the time and expense I invested. And of course, as women, we all know how important our hair is to us.

Has that ever happened to you, with a dye job or a haircut? Can you relate to the scenario below?

How many times have you gone to a hairdresser – asked for a trim and gotten half your hair cut off, a perm and a style that doesn’t look anything like the fashion magazine cut out you brought in.
Do you complain? Ask to see the manger? NO – you thank the Italian hairdresser, tip him handsomely, and run home to try to shampoo and fix your hair.
Then, when you see your hairdresser in the grocery store, you hide behind the Pirate's Booty display so you want have to answer his questions about why he hasn’t seen you lately.

Resolution: I will not be like the average women epitomized by the passage above and take this lying down! I am getting another appointment for Sunday, so another stylist (not that stinker) can fix the patchy spots!

I'm very annoyed because I have to take another afternoon out of my busy, job-seeking life and haul my tired self to Bumblebutt, Long Island, utilizing myriad forms of shleppy transportation. Still, I will be utterly glam when I'm done with this whole shebang! I'm going to demand some sort of reimbursement and/or compensation, and rather than hide behind the chips display (mm, chips) in the supermarket, I will hold my head up high the next time I go to the salon!

I won't let them take my ovaries!!

UPDATE: I have an appointment on Sunday to be retouched by the aptly named Prudence. Let's hope she gets the job done. AND, I negotiated a free blowout!

Note: This entry may not appear to fit in with the rest of the 'Women's Health' focused entries on this blog, but what could be healthier for a woman's mental state than standing up for herself to be the best she can be??

Monday, March 3, 2008

There Are Actually Worse Things Than Smelling Another Woman's Perfume On Your Man's Clothes

I found this story very interesting:

A woman in Beaumont, Texas is suing DuPont and asbestos manufacturers after developing mesothelioma, an agressive cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, due to exposure to asbestos in her husband's work clothes. (Her husband was a refinery worker at the Beaumont DuPont facility between 1957 and 1985 and she washed his dusty work clothes, not knowing that they were covered with asbestos fibers. )

Pissed Over the Hyst

--->Think carefully before pushing the 'go' button
Hysterectomies, or sayin' sayonara to your uterus, are increasingly popular. Approximately 600,000 are performed every year, and to put that number into context, one-third of all women will have a hysterectomy before they turn 60. Hysterectomies are fun because they help women in so many cases:
1. If you want to make whoopee without worrying about getting all preggers;
2. If you're riding the crimson wave (getting your period, hello) more frequently or heavily than you like;
3. If you're often bloated like an elephant that just snarfed down 10 Carvel cakes; and
4. On a more serious life/death note, if you're suffering from conditions such as endometriosis or cancer.

HOWEVA, as CNN so graciously explains, some experts are now saying that two thirds of these hysterectomies are unneccessary. That's right, this invasive surgery has often been done for no clinical reason and/or little or no realized benefit. Some research even suggests that hysterectomies may lead to sexual problems, incontinence, and a slight loss of physical strength.
Doesn't sound very good.
A word of caution before the panic: Even according to the most alarmist of experts, hysterectomies are necessary in at least one third of cases, and can be a lifesaver (not the candy). Still, consider these words from Ms. Zimmerman, who underwent the procedure, gained 10 pounds and had her sex drive go on permanent hiatus. She suggests that women consider more conservative treatments:
"If you've just got a uterus problem," she says,
"do not allow them to take your ovaries."

(I have to say I like the final sentence. "Don't let them take your ovaries!" sounds like a rallying cry that would be applicable in so many cases:
-Boss acting up? Don't let him take your ovaries!
-Cashier all bitchy at the supermarket? Don't let her take your ovaries!
-Your date wants to go dutch? Don't let him take your ovaries, and by all means, make the loser pick up the check!!)

Rejoicing in my Readers!

Over the weekend, I was heartened to hear so many of my friends and (dare I say) acquaintances tell me that they have been reading my blog. Thanks so much and please keep coming! I will do my best to keep you interested.