Tag Archives: Women’s Health

Brief: WebMD publishes a very useful interview on the link between talcum powder use and cancer

It has been a busy couple of months for me, with several projects that have required juggling, so I have not been able to post anything on Women’s Health issues. However, given the most recent verdict against Johnson & Johnson on a case filed by a woman with Ovarian Cancer, resulted in Millions of Dollars being awarded to her.

Any time this happens, of course, it causes a stir, as it should. However, I am not going to spend time on this post talking about the merits of courts allowing companies like J&J and many of the drug companies try to get away by not fighting lawsuits as a class, etc. Those discussions are for my other blog, and will go on for a long time. Plus, in this case, we cannot prove a causal relationship between talcum powder use and cancer, yet.

So, I want to touch very briefly on three takeaways from the interview, and suggest you get the rest from the horse’s mouth:

  1. Correlation is not always a result of causation. We may never find lasting proof that talcum powder use causes cancer. This is an important thing to remember.
  2. There appears to be no medical benefit at all from using talcum powder.
  3. So, given the correlation and the lack of any benefit, it is best to stop using talcum powder! This is what the Doctor interviewed in the article suggests! Sound advice, it would appear!

Please read the rest here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/884700?pa=Vor1qEPNxHeNOj5AKsX1Hl55HifEoXQauwdv%2BVDi5uqIdvEbMsfStGAJbHUGqkcC8SIvl8zjYv73GUyW5rsbWA%3D%3D

Image, Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/rear-view-of-woman-with-arms-raised-at-beach-during-sunset-320007/

An ancient imaging system proves to be an amazing cure for infertility!

Towards the end of the work week, Medical News Today revealed a story that looks like a miracle and something out of science fiction simultaneously. Infertility is a huge problem, with expensive, whose treatments are temperamental to say the least, fraught with emotional travails for families and other complicating issues.

And now, a single study appears to upend the problems and probably offer a simple, cost effective solution that will beat infertility right out of the cliched ball park! It is probably imprudent to get so excited, but it is hardly resistible.

Old techniques have gotten a second look in the past. Some of these techniques were trial and error prone, and many times the underlying science has not been understood. Renal Denervation is one such technique. With a surprising and incredible purchase of Ardian by Medtronic, it caused a frenzy, only to be let down by a poorly designed clinical trials. I have seen similar comebacks on old studies that controlled the Over Active Bladder condition. Therefore, one should look at any revivals of old techniques with ample caution.

Interesting Coincidences

Dr. Ben Mol, a Professor at Australia who spearheaded the study into an age old imaging technique as a possible treatment, appears to have been conceived as a result of this imaging treatment and has a younger brother! It seems remarkable that he started research intot his technique even before being made aware of his own history and relationship with the technique. Please refer to the MNT link below for more on this.

The Technique – Hysterosalpingography (HSG)

The technique, whose name is a mouthful, simply refers to imaging of the hystero, the uterus and salpingo, the fallopian tube. It was first carried out exactly 100 years ago, in 2017, just a few years after X-rays came into existence.

The procedure itself is a dye test, performed under X-ray. Water or oil are used to flush the Fallopian tubes. It is the flushing that appears to have aided fertility. In view of this notion, Dr. Ben Mol and others led a study with 1119 women, that produced interesting results.

The Study

The study, titled H2Oil was held in Netherlands, and as mentioned before, recruiting 1119 women, approximately half received HSG with oil, and as MNT put it, Lipidoil Ultra-Fluid, an iodized solution of fatty acids derived from poppy seeds.

The other half received HSG with water.

The Results

Nearly 40% of the women in the oil group, and 29% in the water group all conceived within 6 months. This is an amazing result. It shows immense promise.

Of course, more needs to be known, as I mentioned before. An underlying understanding of science, safety of flushing fallopian tubes and other important, fundamental considerations remain. However, for women and families struggling with infertility, this study shows great promise.

References: 

  1. The MNT Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317532.php
  2. The NEJM Publication: http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1612337
  3. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-hands-holding-baby-feet-325690/

Hand Osteoarthritis risk higher in women

Medscape reported on a study published on May 8 in the Journal, Arthritis and Rheumatology, that examined data collected from 1999 to 2010 to arrive at a risk prediction for women, with respect to osteoarthritis of the hand.

The Study

The study appears to be a retrospective evaluation of over 2000 people over the age of 45, in North Carolina. They used self-reports of arthritic symptoms and the participants’ X-ray imagery of the hands.

Results

For the overall population, the risk for osteoarthritis in at least one had by the age of 85, is about 39.8%

Caucasians had a higher risk of 41% and African Americans 29%. I assume here that the sub-populations were equivalent or adjusted for.

Obesity ups the risk to 47%, compared to 36% among the non-obese.

In women, the risk is 47% as opposed to men, where it is 25%.

Pain

Pain is one of the key effects of osteoarthritis. The more people use their hands, the more the pain related to osteoarthritis of the hand. This makes day to day activities challenging and a huge burden on Quality of Life.

Fighting Back

As the medscape article rightfully points out, physical therapy, occupational therapy and other precautions can help women (and men) in preparing themselves for this condition, as life spans increase and we await more permanent cures (such as gene therapies, etc).

References:

  1. The medscape article: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/879943
  2. The publication summary: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.40097/abstract
  3. The Arthritis Foundation on Osteoarthritis: http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/
  4. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-woman-hand-holding-heart-shape-against-orange-sky-256809/

Total Body Fat Vs. Belly Fat in Breast Cancer Risk

I came across this very interesting study through a Medical News Today article (link below). The paper manuscript itself is free, but comes across as a little difficult to read on the downloadable PDF version , because of the way it appears to be output by the journal. However, it is always good to be able to access the full paper, and not simply the summary.

The premise

Among several risk factors, body fat is a breast cancer risk. There apparently have been contentions about where specific biomarkers that indicate breast cancer are produced, with some previous studies. This study has shown that overall weight loss is more beneficial in terms of breast cancer biomarker production reduction, rather than focusing on belly fat alone.

The current study

The current study is limited to post-menopausal women. Conducted in the Netherlands, 243 overweight women were recruited. They lost 5 – 6kg over a period of 16 weeks. A set of biomarkers, indicative of sex hormones, leptin and inflammation were compared before and after the weight loss. The fat changes themselves were measured using X-ray and MRI scans.

The latter appears to be important. The MNT article includes a statement that this study is different than previous ones that used waist measurements. I can see this being quite an important difference. X-rays and MRI scans definitely appear to be more fastidious methods of assessing fat changes, specific to a body region.

Results

Increased belly fat, according to Dr. Evelyn Monninkhof, the lead in the study indicates, increases the risk for several chronic diseases, independent of total body fat. She indicates however, that sex hormones, are more affected by total body fat and not just localized fat, as concluded from the study.

She also points that their next steps is to look at how to reduce levels of total fat and abdominal fat. This said, it appears that women, especially those postmenopausal and those approaching menopause can benefit from exercise and nutritional changes that lead to total fat loss, and hopefully, abdominal fat loss along the way. It is always important to contact licensed medical and/or nutritional professionals when considering exercise and/or dietary changes.

References:

  1. The MNT Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/317498.php
  2. The Endocrinology Paper: http://erc.endocrinology-journals.org/content/early/2017/05/16/ERC-16-0490.abstract?sid=9f3c9977-0e81-4583-bdf5-07b3f182f911
  3. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-with-umbrella-on-beach-247304/

Obesity is a risk factor for IUD Expulsions

This is National Women’s Health Week. I am trying to highlight key health-related news all week. This night’s post also comes from the latest ACOG 2017 meeting from last week.

Obesity

Obesity is already a risk factor for various health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and so on. For long term, reversible contraception, it is recommended that obese women opt for IUD over oral pills or patches, as the chances of venous thromboembolism is higher in obese and overweight women, than in women of normal weight. Please see referenced link below. It is an earlier paper by the same lead author/group as the current one, coming from Hawaii.

Weight classification, takes women and men from underweight to normal weight, overweight and obese. Within obesity, depending on waist size, the classification goes from Class I to Class III, representing extreme obesity. I have attached an NIH reference for your convenience.

It appears that in women with Class III obesity, IUDs can shift inside the uterus, also commonly termed IUD expulsion, at a higher rate than in women of other weight classes. This was the focus of the presentation at ACOG last week.

The current study

A retrospective cohort study, in Hawaii, with access to a diverse population including approximately a third each of Asian women and Native Pacific Islanders, has shown that obese women with Class III obesity have a risk, that is 3.06 times other women. Read other details in the paper summary and the article linked below.

Theories

The study itself was only performed, retrospectively to titrate risks. Some theories have been presented by the authors.

Placement itself might pose difficulties because of obesity.

Another risk of obesity is heavy menstrual bleeding, and therefore, IUD expulsions might be encouraged.

The authors however continue to encourage the use of IUDs in all women, regardless of body weight, as the benefits outweigh risks.

Conclusion

While on one end, further studies are needed, and will likelihood indicate why IUD expulsions occur at a higher rate in obese women, women should not stop opting for IUDs.

Additional studies that describe the causes for IUD expulsion might indicate that it is solely not a function of obesity, and it has already been shown that obesity is but one risk factor for expulsion.

Knowing why IUDs dislodge or move would make for better IUD design! 

Until the reasons are known and designs could be potentially improved, for the long term, women should focus on efforts that help them lose weight, in a healthy and practical manner.

References:

  1. ACOG Presentation Summary: http://mobile.journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/2017/05001/Levonorgestrel_Intrauterine_Device_Complications.235.aspx
  2. A previous article by the same group: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642497/
  3. The mdedge article http://www.mdedge.com/clinicalendocrinologynews/article/137744/gynecology/beware-hormonal-iud-expulsion-obese-women?channel=261&utm_source=News_CEN_eNL_051317_F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Are%20some%20obese%20women%20having%20issues%20with%20IUDs?
  4. NIH Weight Classification: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_dis.htm
  5. Some information on IUD Expulsion and what to do: http://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/iud-fell-out#5
  6. Retrospective Cohort Studies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrospective_cohort_study
  7. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/backlit-beach-dawn-dusk-227674/

Delay in Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Increase in Mortality

In the United States, it is National Women’s Health Week. I am going to try to post about a different and key area of Women’s Health through this week.

Today, I am going to point you to the summary of some important results from a very interesting paper on breast cancer diagnosis delays. I only have the summary to offer as the paper itself sits behind a pay wall. Still, even the summary should give one pause and suggestions of key demographics to aim at, in trying to bring up the diagnosis.

Study Limitation

This study, like the one mentioned in yesterday’s blog is also an ecological study and therefore, does not have the strength and rigor of a prospective, clinical study. However, the study results are still very valuable and informative.

Summary of Key Findings (Quoted)

Delays in diagnosis could possibly affect survival as well. While it is possible to quote from the summary, the mdedge article that originally pointed me to the paper has a nice summary, and I am going to quote it here. The article itself is linked below:

  • Women who received Medicaid or were uninsured were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed at a later stage, vs those with commercial insurance.
  • Blacks were 18% more likely than whites to experience such.
  • Unmarried women were 25% more likely than their married counterparts to be diagnosed later.
  • Younger patients were 25% more likely than older individuals to experience delayed diagnosis.
  • Compared with commercially insured patients, death rates from breast cancer in Medicaid and uninsured women were 40% and ~60% higher, respectively.
  • This rate was nearly 40% higher in blacks vs whites, and nearly 20% higher in unmarried vs married women.

Conclusion

As you can see, social status, insurance, and even marital status as well as age make significant contributions to delay in diagnosis. Similar issues exist with survival and mortality. As the authors state in the study, it is important to explore these demographic and social status differences further. When separated by sex, Breast Cancer is the leading cause of cancer based mortality among women in the United States. Every effort must be made to ensure increased awareness, early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer!

References: 

  1. Summary of the Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.30722/full
  2. The mdedge article: http://www.mdedge.com/oncologypractice/clinical-edge/summary/practice-management/these-factors-impact-breast-cancer?group_type=2-month&topic=278&utm_source=News_Power_eNL-B_051417&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ClinicalEdge%20Top%2010:%20Editor%27s%20Picks%20for%20May
  3. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-black-tank-top-holding-an-umbrella-in-front-of-yellow-concrete-wall-57851/

Some secrets of the relationship between Vitamin D and Calcium Intake to Early Menopause revealed

A Cholla Dusk

Early Menopause

Early Menopause is generally detrimental to a woman’s health and mental well being. Thus it is important that factors that delay early menopause are exposed and women are prescribed appropriate remedies.

Limitations in the reported study

This particular study (link below) tried to differentiate Vitamin D and Calcium intake through food and through supplements. The article that talks about this study reveals some key limitations of the study, with respect to the number of people who take large quantities of supplements, enrolled as well as the fact that the subjects are predominantly Caucasian. Because the diet data was self-reported, that offers a problem as well. It is a little saddening to see an NIH funded study take on such a form.

They did account for factors such as smoking, alcohol, BMI etc.

For many of the explanations though, there are only theories and hypotheses offered. This, I am sure, is because it will take thorough, large scale studies before they can be proven.

Interesting Results

Despite the fact that at least the article tries to conclude that food-based intake of Calcium and Vitamin D is the primary driver of the push-back on early menopause, as opposed to supplemental intake, I am not sure the study lays this out for us to subscribe to, with enough confidence.

In general, it appears that taking in recommended levels of Calcium and Vitamin D, either through food, supplements, or in the case of Vitamin D, safe exposure to sun (a problem for Caucasians with their high risk to skin cancer, and perhaps a factor in the recruitment for the study, which if true, is perhaps explained better in the paper, which unfortunately sits behind a paid wall), reduces the risk of early menopause.

Conclusion

As stated, early menopause comes with significant health and financial burden to the women and health systems in the general. Therefore, not only should the results of such studies be used, they should be expanded to solidify evidence, and diversify it based on race and other factors.

Reference:

  1. A summary of the study: http://www.medpagetoday.com/endocrinology/menopause/65189

On women and blood clots

The National Blood Clot Alliance alerted me to two things today, through a news release:

  1. May 14 – 21 is National Women’s Health Week in the US, something that the HHS started a while ago. Who knows how long it will last, and perhaps maybe we should turn this into a regular thing sans government impetus, going forward.
  2. There is a risk to blood clots for women from many forms of hormonal birth control, which they should be aware of.

Clot Risks

It is true that women suffer from clot risks throughout their life. The risk is lower for younger women, compared to older women. Even considering contraceptive use it is low. Please see the NIH reference below. The use of contraceptives does increase this risk in women of child bearing age, and the consequences of blood clots include both morbidity and mortality, and therefore, it is important that there is ample awareness of these risks.

Creating Awareness

The National Blood Clot Alliance along with  Alexandra L. Rowan Memorial Foundation, another excellent organization I learned about today, are asking women to visit “Women And Clots”, a website, womenandbloodclots.org to learn more, access resources and use a risk assessment tool to learn more.

Please pass this on to women you know, especially of child-bearing age, so they may learn of and benefit from this resource and be aware of clot risks going forward!

And, I plan to blog as profusely as time permits during National Women’s Health Week. So consider subscribing to the Blog updates and watch this space for more!

References:

  1. The Stop The Clot Article: https://www.stoptheclot.org/national-womens-health-week-2017.htm
  2. The Alexandra L. Rowan Memorial Foundationhttp://www.alexrowanfoundation.org/about/
  3. Women and Blood Clots: https://womenandbloodclots.org/
  4. The NIH Article on Blood Clots: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44181/
  5. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/selective-focus-photography2-blue-egg-on-nest-158734/

AHCA: Is rape really a pre-existing condition or does Washington Post know what “analysis” means?

One of the many claims to come out of the #AHCA bill that passed the House this past week is that rape will be considered a pre-existing condition and will no longer be covered. Women’s organizations (and others; rape is not a sexually discriminatory evil) have been chagrined and have been protesting this vociferously. Therefore, for anyone who wants to jump into the argument, a little caution would be advised. And you would think that Washington Post would exercise the same or higher levels of caution. Instead, they went on an incredible trip to try and show that they are nonpartisan and focused on facts. The result is they come across as a weak newspaper, ready to suspend intellect just to accomplish an end. Let us take a closer look. The very beginning is not auspicious:

Yet the reality is very complicated, and a highly unlikely cascade of changes in federal and state law need to happen before a woman is denied insurance solely because she was raped or sexually assaulted. Let’s dig in.

Right. Even if we agree that something needs a “highly unlikely cascade of changes”, we do not need to agree that those changes are impossible. After all, just look at the times we live in.

After stating this, the author of said analysis should have said, “Okay, this is beyond me. I should stop and write about the local farmer’s market and when organic corn will be available”:

The revised GOP plan included an amendment crafted by Rep. Tom McArthur (R-N.J.), which helped the plan attract votes that led to its passage. The amendment allowed states to seek waivers from a “continuous coverage” provision that otherwise would boost insurance rates by 30 percent for one year if a person has a lapse in insurance coverage for more than two months.

Instead, if the state met certain conditions, insurance companies for one year could consider a person’s health status when writing policies in the individual market. Another possible waiver would allow the state to replace a federal essential benefits package with a more narrowly tailored package of benefits, limited to the individual and small-group markets.

That is precisely the problem with the AHCA amendment:

  1. Waivers can be sought. Why do you think States that clearly want to cut off insurance access, and absolutely want to force rape victims to bear any children (we are talking of rape victims who are women, in this case) will just wait around and NOT seek the waivers?
  2. Essentially, one of the waivers allows them to “narrowly tailor benefits”. Essentially, no abortion coverage (which is flaky anyway), definitely no Plan B contraception, or HIV Medication are all possibilities.
  3. Essentially, the two-month “lapse” is the killer, and I will give you an example. Let us say someone gets raped and physically abused so badly, they stay in Intensive Care for a solid couple of months. These things, VERY UNFORTUNATELY, do happen. They slip on their payments. Lo! The State and the Insurer can now essentially change the patient’s coverage. Which way the coverage will go is really not a mystery, unless, I suppose you work for Washington Post.

The most egregious quote in this vile, misguided “analysis” ensues:

The AHCA does not specifically address or classify rape or sexual assault as a pre-existing condition. It also would not deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.

The entire premise of the above-stated McArthur amendment WAS to gain the votes of House members who specifically wanted to see the pre-existing condition coverage gutted. Formerly, I thought it would take an enormous amount of ignorance and uneducatability to fail to see this. I don’t think so any more, given the evidence presented above.

What I don’t understand, and apparently, many of those commenting don’t either, is how can someone say one thing and then try to peg the opposite interpretation to what they JUST said:

States and the Secretary of Health and Human Services would decide how to interpret “health status.” State waivers must be approved by the federal government. Opponents of AHCA say that because “health status” is up for interpretation, there is no control in the bill to prevent rising costs for survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Exactly what do you think would motivate a Federal Government to give itself pause from rubber-stamping State Government Waiver requests when they are of the same party and their interests are aligned? Does this ever happen?

And yes, opponent or not, “health status” HAS been opened up for State interpretation. Given recent egregious comments coming out of places like Oklahoma (the latest in a long string of such comments), it is extremely foolish to think that rape victims will receive the same protections as before, should AHCA become law.

At least 45 states have laws prohibiting health insurance companies from using a woman’s status as a domestic violence survivor to deny coverage, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

When you want to look at the moon and see a wolf, all you have to do is “visualize”. So, just before this quote, the brilliant author of said analysis, says virtually every state, without realizing that to begin with, 10% of the States in the US do NOT have this provision in place.

Secondly, how does one fail to see the problem here? Insurance companies and state insurances will not need to “deny” coverage. They can just make your coverage prohibitively expensive. This has precisely been the modus operandi for decades and hence the name AFFORDABLE CARE ACT and NOT Obamacare, as only idiots (and this is the term our storied analyst uses in the gibber-fest by the way) refer to it, when writing formally.

The whole premise of ACA all along has been affordability of insurance, besides its accessibility. It federally bound insurers and states from colluding and letting patients with serious, or politically charged health conditions (or statuses) just fend for themselves or die. And even that wasn’t effective. Religious organizations found themselves able to waive (though coverage came through other means) covering conditions unpleasant to them. This is precisely what AHCA guts. This is why several organizations are opposed to it!

Bottom line: Almost all states (at least 45 to 48) have their own laws protecting survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Even if AHCA became law as currently written, state law still determines what can and cannot be used for rating, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Yes, when it comes to strategic planning for the security of hen houses, consult the FOX! 

Conclusion: The problem here is simple. Several religious organizations and states have a febrile, maniacal desire to cut coverage for rape victims. To simply deny yourself the acknowledgement of this, or to simply build on your inability to understand this, and to then go on and write nonsensical arguments IN THE FACE of links you yourself posted is stupid.

I see a trend with newspapers such as The New York Times, Washington Post etc to desperately appear non-partisan. And it appears, they will just make themselves open to much mockery to get there.

I, for one, am happy that I do NOT subscribe to the Washington Post and this uneducated, unworthy, despicable, ignorant, narrow-minded rant, has made me further my resolve to stay away from the publication.

Remember, men and women, both can be sexual assault victims. We all need to stand in support of the prevention of rape, the elimination of cultural attributes that use religion or any vile argument to make rape sound any less disgusting than it is, and to stand by the unfortunate victims of rape.

References:

  1. The deplorable “analysis”: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/05/06/no-the-gop-health-bill-doesnt-classify-rape-or-sexual-assault-as-a-preexisting-condition/?utm_term=.af7d521e09b5#comments
  2. Image courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/ask-blackboard-chalk-board-chalkboard-356079/

Vaginal Meshes, the enduring saga!

Vaginal Meshes, originally conceived, perhaps with good intentions, have become quite the source of trouble for the women who opted for these devices to be implanted in them. Years and years of lawsuits, with multiple companies settling and fighting them, would, you think, put a damper on the product, but no! The saga, ensues, and shows no signs of ending!

I came across this bit of news today. Not only is J&J fighting back on a recent judgement against it, the company is going ahead with more clinical trials.

New Design or Brave Face?

The most recent judgement against J&J, is to the tune of $20mn, $17.5mn of which are punitive damages, in Pennsylvania. It makes sense that given the amount and the fact that it is a State verdict, that J&J would fight it.

Part of their reasoning to fight the judgement is that, they believe the Ethicon Design was not flawed. And yet, about 5 years ago, they pulled the product from the market, apparently only owing to the negative publicity (well placed, if you ask me) for vaginal meshes, and not owing to bad design. And, if you read the history, (see link 3 under references below) you will find out the excision of the device from the market (easier than excision from the body) was not exactly voluntary.

Then why redesign the vaginal mesh at all?

And, it is not as if all the negative publicity has gone away. So, why would the public suddenly change their mind now?

In part, I think all this talk about the new design is perhaps, just a brave face effort, to fend off future lawsuits, of which, I am sure, there will be many. If not, it must be the notion that the vaginal mesh will still prove to be a viable device, despite all the hands in the cookie jar, and J&J should not lose the edge. Patents, PMAs and clinical trials after all, create a high barrier for entry to any uppity start-ups that come along with design improvements…

The real culprit

Vaginal meshes treat vaginal prolapse, the collapse of the pelvic vault, and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), arising from muscular dysfunction (loss or impedance of function). Vaginal prolapses, often occur as a consequence of hysterectomies. Quite a significant number of hysterectomies are unnecessary, and are performed in preference to lesser invasive treatments, as hysterectomy is well covered by insurance companies! The hysterectomies, in effect lead to complications, such as prolapse, which then need either surgery or mesh implantation and on and on it goes.

If we reduce the haphazard use of hysterectomies as the nuclear weapon that kills ants, then we automatically improve the chances of preventing and/or delaying prolapse altogether, in which case, you wont have a number of suffering women across the country, lawsuits and incredibly uncouth late night television ads on vaginal mesh lawsuits!

References: 

  1. The J&J Verdict: http://www.qmed.com/mpmn/medtechpulse/jj-will-fight-20m-vaginal-mesh-verdict?cid=nl.x.qmed02.edt.aud.qmed.20170503
  2. The Mayo Clinic on Vaginal Mesh Complications: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pelvic-organ-prolapse/in-depth/transvaginal-mesh-complications/art-20110300
  3. History, Notes on Complications, etc: https://www.drugwatch.com/transvaginal-mesh/
  4. Image courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-microphone-windscreen-158736/

 

Quick Post: Boston Scientific’s efforts to enroll more women in medical device trials

I love Qmed. They provide great news updates all the time. This morning, I came across an important bit of news through one of their newsletters.

Boston Scientific apparently has an initiative called WIN-Her. Marketing must have gone into a frenzy to come up with this, which, expands to:  Women Opt-In for Heart Research.

Boston Scientific points to research (link, obtained through BSC press release, below) that indicates that only one-third of patients enrolled in a cardiovascular clinical trial between 2000 and 2007. I am sure there is not much reason to believe the situation has improved much.

They are now using this program of theirs to enroll more women in two of their own clinical trials (please see links below). It is very important to know if women and men experience the effects of devices and treatments differently, and for this, it is key that enough women be enrolled in clinical trials for non-sex specific health conditions. However, major barriers exist. This is a theme that I will expand on this blog extensively, over time.

There is of course the added benefit that it makes the sales of devices, proven by clinical trials, that much easier and the prospects of profits higher!

It is true that women not only have lesser access to healthcare, they are also not given information about the possibilities of clinical trials, treatment options and so on. As pointed out, in the Qmed article, logistical challenges in clinical trial participation are already high, and for women who might have income barriers, transportation and continual access issues, this probably makes things worse.

Only a concerted effort by industry, academia, hospitals, non profits (including, organizations like Planned Parenthood) and the various levels of Government can help ensure enough women enroll and participate in clinical trials. This is true of not just cardiovascular health conditions, but all health conditions.

On a slightly different note, I found this interesting read about a Stanford University Undergraduate Student who survived AML, and apparently, enrolling in a clinical trial helped the young lady who wrote the blog post, furthering the argument that it is very important that women of all walks of life be encouraged to join clinical trials where feasible.

References:

  1. Image courtesy, pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/view-of-operating-room-247786/
  2. The Qmed article: http://www.qmed.com/mpmn/medtechpulse/can-boston-scientific-woo-more-women-clinical-trials?cid=nl.x.qmed02.edt.aud.qmed.20170502
  3. The Boston Scientific Press Release: http://news.bostonscientific.com/2017-04-18-Boston-Scientific-Initiates-Global-Study-To-Assess-Sudden-Cardiac-Arrest-Prevention-Therapy-In-Patients-With-Diabetes-Who-Have-Previously-Experienced-A-Heart-Attack
  4. The gender bias paper mentioned by Boston Scientific: http://circoutcomes.ahajournals.org/content/4/2/165.long
  5. The blog post by the AML survivor: https://medium.com/stanford-magazine/i-didnt-beat-cancer-my-doctors-did-ec6c3a92d426

A truly elegant innovation helps menstruating women in India

South Asian Woman

My goal with gyn.io is to highlight women’s health issues and relevant solutions. What better way to do this, than to talk about a truly remarkable gentleman, Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham, with an equally amazing innovation. I am thankful to my friend Tania Marker for having shared this news with me. Her main motivation in doing so, is that Arunachalam is from Coimbatore, India, my hometown, which only makes this all the better!

I am a little peeved that I had not heard about this gentleman before, but I am not wholly surprised, as, in the article linked below states, menstruation is not discussed well in India, and has quite a bit of stereotyping and taboo around a very natural process.

From understanding the need for sanitation during menstruation, to obsessing over a solution, and discovering that sanitary napkins are made with cellulose and figuring out how to get it right, this is an incredible story of ambition, persistence and of course, innovation!

Hats off, Arunachalam!

Reference: 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/innovator-trying-make-sanitary-pads-affordable-women-india/

Image, Courtesy: 

https://www.pexels.com/photo/colourful-india-wedding-indian-16154/