Saturday, May 19, 2007

No More Monthly Visitor

There at least three days in a month when women suffer "wet days". With the new birth control pill that would be launched this July, the monthly wetness would be over.

Here is the news.

TRENTON, New Jersey - Women looking for a simple way to avoid their menstrual period could soon have access the first birth control pill designed to let women suppress monthly bleeding indefinitely.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expect to announce approval Tuesday for Lybrel, a drug from Wyeth which would be the first pill to be taken continuously.

Lybrel, a name meant to evoke "liberty," would be the fourth new oral contraceptive that doesn't follow the standard schedule of 21 daily active pills, followed by seven sugar pills — a design meant to mimic a woman's monthly cycle. Among the others, Yaz and Loestrin 24 shorten monthly periods to three days or less and Seasonique, an updated version of Seasonale, reduces them to four times a year.

Gynecologists say they've been seeing a slow but steady increase in women asking how to limit and even stop monthly bleeding. Surveys have found up to half of women would prefer not to have any periods, most would prefer them less often and a majority of doctors have prescribed contraception to prevent periods.

"I think it's the beginning of it being very common," said Dr. Leslie Miller, a University of Washington-Seattle obstetrician-gynecologist who runs a Web site focused on suppressing periods. "Lybrel says, 'You don't need a period.'"

While that can be done easily — sometimes more cheaply — by skipping the sugar pills or replacing birth-control patches or vaginal rings sooner, doctors say the trend is fueled mainly by advertising for the new options. They expect plenty for Lybrel's July launch, although Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth says it will market to doctors first.

Analysts have estimated Lybrel sales could reach $40 million this year and $235 million by 2010. US sales of Seasonique, launched last August, hit $6.1 million in the first quarter of 2007. Predecessor Seasonale, which got cheaper generic competition in September, peaked at about $100 million. Yaz, launched last August, had first-quarter sales of $35.6 million; Loestrin 24, launched in April 2006, hit $34.4 million in the first quarter.

Still, some women raise concerns about whether blocking periods is safe or natural. Baltimore health psychologist Paula S. Derry wrote in an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal two weeks ago that "menstrual suppression itself is unnatural," and that there's not enough data to determine if it is safe long-term.

Sheldon J. Segal, a scientist at the nonprofit research group Population Council, wrote back that a British study found no harm in taking pills with much higher hormone levels than today's products for up to 10 years.

"Nothing has come up to indicate any unexpected side effects," said Segal, who co-authored the book "Is Menstruation Obsolete?"

Most doctors say there's no medical reason women need monthly bleeding and that it triggers health problems from anemia to epilepsy in many women. They note women have been tinkering with nature since the advent of birth control pills and now endure as many as 450 periods, compared with 50 or so in the days when women spent most of their fertile years pregnant or breast-feeding.

Dr. Mindy Wiser-Estin, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Little Silver, N.J., has long advocated menstrual suppression.

She has seen a big increase in the last year in patients asking about it, but has one concern that leads her to encourage younger women to take a break every 12 weeks. About 1 percent of oral contraceptive users become pregnant each year, and young women taking continuous pills who have never been pregnant may not recognize the symptoms, she said.

"They may not know it in time to do something about it," Wiser-Estin said.

Barr Pharmaceuticals of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., whose subsidiary Duramed already is developing a lower-estrogen version of Seasonique, said its research with consumers and health care providers indicates they feel four periods a year is optimal, said spokeswoman Amy Niemann.

Wyeth obviously thinks otherwise.

"It allows women to put their menstrual cycle on hold" and reduces 17 related symptoms, from irritability to bloating, based on one small study, said Dr. Amy Marren, director of clinical affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Marren said Lybrel contains the lowest dose of two hormones widely used in birth-control pills, ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel.

That might cause too much breakthrough bleeding, already a problem with some newer pills with low hormone doses, said Dr. Lee Shulman, a Chicago obstetrician-gynecologist who chairs the board of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

In testing of Lybrel, 59 percent of women ended up with no bleeding after six months, but 18 percent of women dropped out of studies because of spotting and breakthrough bleeding, according to Wyeth.

"You're now basically trading scheduled bleeding for unscheduled bleeding, and I don't know whether American women will buy into that," Shulman said.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

10 Minute Exercise Can lower High Blood Pressure for Overweight Women

A study supported by hard medical data showed that women do not necessarily have to go to the gymn for a couple of hours running in the treadmill or lifting weights. Even a ten-minute exercise that can improve their fitness may lower blood pressure thus lowering the overall risk of early death.

This is the news from MSNBC.

The study is the first to reinforce using hard medical data what other studies have suggested — that exercise does not have to be an all-or-nothing venture, Dr. Timothy Church of Louisiana State University and colleagues said.

“This information can be used to support future recommendations and should be encouraging to sedentary adults who find it difficult to find the time for 150 minutes of activity per week, let alone 60 minutes per day,” the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

While virtually everybody knows that exercise is good for you, 20 percent of U.S. adults admit they do no exercise whatever and most do not get as much as is recommended.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health recommend at least a half hour on most days a week of moderate exercise to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government, says people need to get themselves slightly out of breath for closer to an hour every day.

Housework, playing in the park
But Church and colleagues wanted to see whether women overwhelmed at the idea of that much work might be helped by something they consider a little more manageable.

They studied 427 overweight women with high or borderline-high blood pressure who had an average age of 57.

The volunteers were randomly assigned to continue their normal lives or to exercise 75 minutes a week, 135 minutes a week or 190 minutes a week. This works out to just what the NIH and CDC recommend, half as much as recommended, and 150 percent of what they recommend.

“The women in this study walked on treadmills and rode stationary cycles, but any activity of comparable energy expenditure would produce similar results,” said Dr. Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina, who worked on the study.

“Any type of moderate intensity physical activity should provide comparable benefits to those seen in our study. And that’s good news. This can include work around the house and yard, swimming, playing in the park with your grandchildren, or other activities that are of a similar intensity to brisk walking.”


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I had three cyst operations in my breasts in my early 20's so that whoever OB-GYNE who looked in my health records recommend me for a mammogram.

Last year, I was recommended to a program which gives free mammogram check-up. The result required me to have an ultra sound of my breast to double check a lump that the mammogram machine detected in my right breast.

Although the ultrasound test yielded a benign cyst, the doctor schedule me for another breast examination after six months.

This news therefore caught my interest.

After rising steadily for decades, the proportion of U.S. women getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer has dropped for the first time, federal researchers are reporting today.

The overall rate at which women are undergoing regular mammograms fell 4 percent between 2000 and 2005, marking the first significant decline since use of the breast X-rays started expanding rapidly in 1987, the study by the National Cancer Institute and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

The reasons remain unclear, but researchers speculated that it could be due to factors such as increasingly long waiting times to get appointments, waning fears about breast cancer, the drop in hormone use after menopause, and the ongoing debate over the benefits and risks of the breast exams.

Regardless of the cause, the trend is worrying breast cancer experts, who credit mammograms with playing a crucial role in reducing the death toll from breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer and cancer death among U.S. women.

"This is very troubling," said Nancy Breen, who led the analysis published online today by the American Cancer Society's journal Cancer. "If women are not getting mammograms, then their cancer may not be diagnosed until later stages, which could translate into higher mortality from breast cancer."

Breast cancer strikes more than 200,000 women each year and kills more than 40,000. But the odds of surviving have been rising, in part because more women are being diagnosed with the help of mammograms at the earliest, most treatable stages. Breast cancer experts have been growing increasingly concerned, however, by reports that mammography rates had leveled off and perhaps started to fall. The new research is the first to document the trend nationally.

Breen and her colleagues analyzed data collected by the National Health Interview Survey, an ongoing survey of about 40,000 adults conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics to track health trends.

Data from about 10,000 women surveyed showed that the mammogram rate plateaued in 2000, began to fall in 2003 and continued to decline through 2005, the survey's most recent year. The proportion of women in the National Health Interview Survey who said they had gotten a mammogram in the last two years declined from 70 percent in 2000 to 66 percent in 2005, according to the paper that will be published in the June 15 issue of the journal.

Most alarming, the drop was greatest -- 6.8 percent -- among women ages 50 to 64, the age group most likely to benefit.

This is also the group most likely to take hormones after the onset of menopause, a practice that fell dramatically in 2002 after a federal study found that hormone therapy raised the risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Breen and her colleagues were also surprised that the drop was especially steep -- 6.3 percent -- among more affluent women.

"One possibility is women who stop using HRT (hormone replacement therapy) believe their risk of breast cancer has declined and so they don't feel the need for mammography," Breen said. "Another possibility is they may not be going to their doctors as often for their hormones and so are not being told it's time for a mammogram. That's a concern because just because they are not taking HRT does not mean they are not at risk."

Another possible explanation is that a worsening shortage of mammography facilities is making it more frustrating to get an appointment.

Breen and others speculated that some of the drop might be due to the ongoing debate over the benefits of mammography. Some experts question the blanket recommendation that all women routinely undergo mammograms starting at age 40, saying the risks of unnecessary treatment and anxiety from false alarms might outweigh the benefits for some women at low risk.

"Some women are beginning to balance the risks and the benefits," said Carolina Hinestrosa of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, an advocacy group. "If women are making a careful determination and an informed decision after weighing the risks and benefits, I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing."

But others argued that the benefits have been well-established, particularly for women over age 50. Even though other methods, such as MRIs, are showing promise, mammograms remain the only widespread screening method proven to pay off.

"Too many women and clinicians are misunderstanding the 'controversy' about mammography," said Constance Lehman, a professor of radiology at the University of Washington. "A mammogram is the best thing a woman can do to reduce her chances of dying from breast cancer."

Another possible explanation is that rising survival rates among breast cancer patients are making women more complacent.

"Women may also be feeling, 'Well, the death rates are dropping in the population so I don't need to get screened,' " Breen said. "That's kind of missing the point. One reason death rates are dropping is because screening rates were so high."


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Brooke Shields urges action on moms' depression

After giving birth, women suffer from post partum depression. I got a friend who after every child delivery, she would isolate herself from the rest fo the members of the family. The baby is taken cared of by her mother. Without any nedication or therapy, she would bounce back to her normal life after the said period. But another friend who suffered PPD was not that lucky. She became detached for a long time that the family thought she would never recover.

Brooke Shields is now advocating for a legislation to help the mothers suffering from PPD.

WASHINGTON - Brooke Shields says postpartum depression is more prevalent than anyone wants to admit, and that it's time for lawmakers to pass legislation to help new mothers.

"There is an entire population of women suffering," the actress told George Stephanopoulos in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"And it's time, I believe, for Congress to step in and prevent that, and actually save lives and save potential tragedy," she said.

Shields made headlines last year when she acknowledged taking antidepressants after her first child was born — and Tom Cruise publicly criticized her for using the drugs.

She told Stephanopoulos that she experienced acute postpartum depression after the birth of her first daughter, and it was devastating to her family.

"I had gone through numerous attempts to have a baby, and then I finally did have this perfect, beautiful, healthy baby, and it all but destroyed me," she said.

She said a bill being considered by Congress would be "an easy gift to give to women.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Are you afraid of menopause?

For many women, menopause is scary based on the stories they have heard from their mothers, aunts and older friends.

Dr. Rebecca Singson, an ob-gyne has tips to stay healthy and sane during the menopausal stage.

This is the outline form. For the detailed ones, go to this article.

1. Visit a gynecologist annually on your birthday, to get tested for CBC, Urinalysis, Blood Chemistry Panel 23, Chest X-ray, Treadmill test, Transvaginal Ultrasound and Pap Smear, if not hysterectomized. Bilateral Mammography and Fecal Occult Blood for colon cancer screening.

2. If you started sex by 18 years old and have had five sexual partners or have had any partner who was promiscuous, have an HPV test (Human Papillomavirus ) aside from Pap Smear. The HPV test is far more accurate than a Pap Smear, which can miss cervical cancer up to 50 percent of cases.

3. Have a Bone Densitometry once in three years to detect osteoporosis.

4. If you are having hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, memory loss, low libido, and skin or vaginal dryness, you may need hormone replacement therapy.

5. If you are afraid to use hormone replacement therapy because results you can take synthetic hrt.

6. Or take the natural bioidentical hormones are plant-based which don’t necessarily carry the same risk.

7. If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, with all symptoms stated in Tip No. 4, your best bet for correction is hormone replacement therapy. However, if you just have osteopenia or osteoporosis without all the symptoms stated in Tip No. 4, take an anti-bone resorption drug.

8. Take 1,500 mg of calcium every day.

10. Do brisk walking two to three times your normal pace at a minimum of 40 minutes a day.