BlogsByWomen Blog Moves to it's new home at BlogsByWomen.org

The import of this blogger blog was a bit of a nightmare as we did it pre Wordpress 2.2 with the new Blogger import feature, so we had to import to wordpress.com then export and import to the new blog @ blogsbywomen.org.

Such is technology.

So, we've moved. There may be occasional posts here but all the new stuff is going to the new wordpress blog - categories... yay! Now we just have to get that theme tweaked.

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Blogs By Women Blog


Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements May Help Postmenopausal Women Regulate Their Weight

According to recent research, vitamin D and calcium supplementation can help postmenopausal women with avoiding weight gain. The study indicates that all women will benefit from adding more vitamin D and calcium to their diets, but those that are receiving less than 1,200 mg of calcium per day will enjoy the greatest benefits. In addition, postmenopausal women should still strive to consume 1,200 mg of calcium per day through the foods they eat rather than rely solely on supplements.

The report looked followed 36,282 postmenopausal women ranging from 50 to 79 years of age for a five year period. Some of the women were placed on a dose of 1,000 mg elemental calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D while the other women were provided with a placebo. A greater portion of the women taking the calcium and vitamin D supplements experienced a slight weight loss when compared to those on the placebo.

Despite the findings of this report, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in the May 14 issue, the role calcium plays in helping to maintain a healthy body weight is still controversial. Biologically, it appears that calcium and 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D work together to better regular lipid metabolism in the adipose cells. This is accomplished mostly by stimulating the fatty acid oxidation and by suppressing lipogenesis. Whether this is accurate or truly the reason for the connection between calcium and weight regulation, however, remains to be proven.


Most Women Do Not Have Adequate Life Insurance Coverage

According to a survey put out by COUNTRY Insurance & Financial Services, 76% of women recognize that life insurance is either very or somewhat important compared to 69% of their male counterparts that feel the same way. Nonetheless, only 14% of these same women reported having life insurance coverage that is equal to three years of their current income.

“The good news is Americans recognize that life insurance is important. However, it is troubling that women continue to be underinsured despite their contribution to their families, whether they are breadwinners or stay at home parents. Men and women, equally, should take steps to ensure they can preserve their families’ financial security in case of unforeseen events.” – Keith Brannan, director of the financial security office at COUNTRY

As a country, 73% of Americans report believing that life insurance is either very or somewhat important. Yet, 30% are not insured at all. In addition, 69% of those surveyed stated that it was important for both parents to be covered by life insurance, whether both work or one stays home with the kids. Nonetheless, only 7% have coverage for both parents.

The survey also found that certain ethnicities placed more importance on life insurance than others. African-Americans, for example, reported a higher importance than white and Hispanic groups, with 86% stating it was very or somewhat important. At the same time, African-Americans were the least likely to actually have coverage with only 13% having coverage equal to three years of their current income.


Women Astronauts Receive Long Awaited Recognition

The University of Wisconsin finally gave 13 women the recognition they earned nearly 50 years ago. On Saturday, the university bestowed these women, known as the Mercury 13, with honorary degrees in recognition of the advancements they helped the NASA program make in the 1960s.

The Mercury 13 consisted of 13 women who, along with seven men known as the Mercury 7, underwent a series of rigorous tests. The tests were designed to determine whether or not humans could withstand the conditions they would face in space. Although these 13 women proved that women could also successfully make it in space, they did not receive the same level of attention as the men of the Mercury 7. In fact, these men became household names while the women remained virtually unknown.

The reason for the discrepancies between the fame of the two groups is quite simple: at the time, society did not consider it a woman’s place to be in space. Despite the fact that the female trainees proved their worth, they never had the chance to go to space.

“The social attitude of the time was that women should be hostesses, not pilots.” – Martha Ackmann, author.

Many of the tests the women of Mercury 13 endured are not even used on today’s astronaut trainees. For example, one test involved using electric shock on their forearms in order to test their ulnar nerve. In addition, ice water was shot into their ears in order to induce vertigo and the inner ear was frozen so doctors could time how long it took for them to recover. The women also used weighted stationary bicycles until they were completely exhausted in order to test their respiration. This is only a small sampling of what these women allowed themselves to be put through in the name of space travel.

The ceremony at the University of Wisconsin is the first to gather all of these women and to honor them for their sacrifice. The ceremony also follows hot on the heals of a book that is now being published about these women entitled The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight authored by Martha Ackmann.


New Jersey Proposes New HIV Testing Law for Pregnant Women and Newborns

New Jersey’s Senate president, Richard J. Codey, is proposing a new bill that is the first of its kind. Under this proposed bill. All pregnant women and their newborn children will be required to be tested for HIV. Under this new bill, women will be required to get an HIV test early in their pregnancies as well as during the third trimester. In addition, all birthing facilities would be required to test newborns that are within their care.

Current, New Jersey law only requires offering testing to pregnant women. With the new proposal, the test would automatically be given unless the woman requests in writing that it not be.

The inspiration behind this new bill proposal comes from a report made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that medical treatment for the disease during pregnancy can decrease the likelihood of passing it on to a newborn dramatically.

Currently, four states require testing mothers for HIV unless the mother specifically requests that she not be. These states are Arkansas, Michigan, Texas, and Tennessee. Two states, New York and Connecticut, require testing of newborns. No state, however, currently requires testing mothers and their children.

“The key in the fight against HIV and AIDS is early detection and treatment. For newborns this can be a lifesaving measure.” - Richard J. Codey, New Jersey Senate president

Women’s rights groups, particularly The Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington D.C., opposes the bill because it violates the woman’s right to make her own medical treatment and childbearing decisions. In New Jersey, however, which has some of the highest rates of AIDS cases in the nation, it appears to be the only answer to Codey.

The new bill proposals will be scheduled for a hearing within a few weeks. In order to become state law, it must first pass through both the Senate and the Assembly. Then, it must be signed by the governor.


Women More Likely to Survive Early Stages of Breast Cancer Than Men

Breast cancer is typically associated with men – and for good reason; only 1% of breast cancer cases affect men. Nonetheless, a recent study revealed that men are more likely to die from breast cancer in its early stages than women. In fact, men with small tumors that had yet to spread had a shorter survival rate than women.

Researchers are unclear of the reason for the difference in mortality rate between men and women, though it is clear that there are biological differences between the sexes that cause this difference. The fact that breast cancer is so rare in men, however, has resulted in limited research in the area.

Whether a man or a woman, the symptoms of breast cancer remain the same. These include:

  • One breast that is larger than the other
  • Swelling in the breast
  • Pink or red skin
  • Rashes in small patches or covering the entire breast
  • Skin on the breast feels hot to the touch
  • The breast feels painful or itchy
  • The skin develops an orange-like texture
  • Unexplained nipple discharge
  • Thickened areas develop on the breast
  • Nipples appear flattened or inverted
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the neck or the armpit

It is important for a person – man or woman – to consult with a physician if experiencing any of these symptoms. As with any form of cancer, the earlier treatment is received, the better the chances of survival.


BlogsByWomen Redesign Finally Takes Flight

We've been talking about a redesign for a while, something more up to date, more "web 2.0". Unfortunately, we could never find a good designer to do the job at a reasonable price, or create a design of our own that we liked. But we persevered and finally have something we could agree on.

The new Directory Of Women Bloggers design went live today and contains many updates and improvements, with hooks and places for more features. We're still checking for bugs so excuse us if anything weird happens.

The first new addition is a "featured blogs" section, right on the home page and at the top of each category that allows new and currently listed bloggers to gain increased traffic and a valuable pagerank link to their blog. Adding your already listed blog to this featured section will be available later this week - login to see more.

Find out more about the benefits of being listed in the Blogs By Women directory.


French Women Finding a Way to Be Born Again Virgins

An increasing number of women in France are undergoing a form of surgery known as hymenoplasty. As the name suggests, this outpatient surgical procedure involves reconstructing the hymen in order to make it appear as if she is still a virgin.

The majority of women undergoing this procedure are Muslim and are from both France and North Africa. The main draw to this procedure is that, for many of these women, religion dictates that they be virgins at the time they are married. Yet, religious doctrine does not provide a stance on whether or not this surgical procedure is considered acceptable. In fact, all that the head of the Union of French Islamic Organisations will say on the matter is, “If someone committed a sin, the essential thing is to repent.”

“The surgery is an attack on women’s dignity. We will not take part in a market that places value on the quality of a woman – if she’s good or not. It is an attack on women’s liberty.” - Professor Jacque Lansac, President of The National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians in of France

Many women are also deciding to undergo the procedure for cultural reasons, with many coming from families that believe strongly in remaining a virgin until married. This procedure, which costs anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000, allows them to effectively become virgins again and to avoid disappointing their fianc├ęs and their families.

Several doctors and activists view this procedure as a slap in the face of women’s rights and liberty. In addition, there is much debate surrounding the procedure being done in state hospitals since France has laws in place that separate church and state.


The Gap Between Women Versus Men Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis Continues to Grow

Recent research has shown that women are four times as likely as their male counterparts to develop multiple sclerosis. Researchers are baffled as to why there appears to be a gender discrepancy with the disease. Yet, over the past 60 years, the number ratio of women suffering from the disorder as compared to men has nearly doubled.

Although MS has always been more prevalent in females than in males, the gap between the two sexes has been steadily growing. In 1940, the number of women afflicted as compared to men was two to one. In the year 2000, on the other hand, the ratio grew to four to one.

"The results of this study are intriguing. MS is most frequently diagnosed in pre-menopausal women and this research reinforces questions surrounding the role of hormones in multiple sclerosis. The idea that lifestyle changes in women over the decades may play a part in multiple sclerosis is interesting, but further research is needed to explore this level of influence and its bearing on the prevalence of MS." - Chris Bentley, spokesman for Multiple Sclerosis Society

Researchers hope that this information will help them to better pinpoint potential causes of the disorder. More specifically, if researchers can identify what has changed in the lifestyles of women over the past 60 decades, they may very well be able to determine what triggers the disorder. Areas that are receiving a great deal of attention include birth control methods, changes in menstruation, increasing obesity rates, having children later in life, and smoking. Researchers will also take a closer look at those things that women tend to do more frequently than men, such as using cosmetics and hair dyes that may cause vitamin D absorption to be blocked.

Another oddity linked to the disorder is the fact that Scotland has proportionally more cases of MS than any other country in the world – another phenomenon that has yet to be explained.


Women Still Earning Less than Men

A study recently released by the American Association of University Women found that women are still earning less than their male counterparts – despite the fact that women are pursuing higher education opportunities. According to the study, women that graduated in the 1999-2000 school year were earning 80% of the wages as men graduating during that same year. This isn’t much growth when compared to those that graduated in 1992-1993 and earned 69% of what men did.

Although this fact is discouraging, the study found that part of the reason for the discrepancy is the choices women make when choosing their majors. According to the study, women tended to select professions that pay lower wages. These career paths include working for non-profit organizations and in the education and psychology feels. On the other hand, men tend to select jobs within the business and engineering fields, both of which traditionally bring in a higher wage.

“The research asked a basic but important question: If a woman made the same choices as a man, would she earn the same pay? The answer is no.” - Catherine Hill, Co-author of study

Despite this fact, the study still found discrepancies in the amount of money women make versus the amount men make. In fact, the study found that, when taking occupation, education, children, and hours out of the equation, women were still paid less than 5% than men one year after graduating from college. After working for ten years, they earned 12% less than men. Over the lifetime of a woman, this amounts to losing out on $500,000. – as well as earning les in social security.

The study found that career paths in which women dominate, such as in education, the discrepancy is smaller than in other professions – though men still earn more pay. According to the researchers, there was always a discrepancy between the pay of women and men, no matter how they tried to look at the numbers. For this reason, Catherine Hill, co-author of the study, took her findings to a congressional committee.


Migraine Sufferers May Enjoy Better Cognitive Ability as they Age

Women suffering from migraines may have something to be happy about. A recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University out of Baltimore has found that those women with a history of the painful headaches may actually be less likely to suffer from cognitive decline as they get older.

According to researchers, the medication migraine sufferers use to alleviate their pain and symptoms, along with the dietary and behavioral changes they implement, might play a large role in their lack of cognitive decline.

“This was a complete surprise. We found that people with migraines, specifically people with migraines with aura, which is even more counterintuitive, didn’t even decline over time at all.” - Dr. Kalaydjian, leader of research

The study, which followed over 1,448 women, of which 204 were migraine sufferers, involved having the women take a series of cognitive tests. The women took the tests once in 1993 and then again in 2005. The women that were suffering from migraines when taking the first test were found to be 17% sharper than the women that were free of migraines when they took the second test.

Interestingly, the study found that women over the age of 50 showed the least amount of decline. Researchers were unable to determine exactly why this phenomenon seemed to occur. The current theory is that changes in blood vessels or other differences in brain activity may be the reason for the difference in abilities. More research is still needed in order to determine the exact connection between age-related cognitive abilities and migraines in women.

Desert Culture Leading to Obese Women

Many American women would feel envious of the women in Mauritania, a small desert country in northwest Africa. Here, obese women are prized for their extra pounds. In fact, women strive to become overweight so they will be viewed as beautiful by the men in their culture.

The reversed method of thinking is spawned from the fact that the country is quite poor and often suffers from drought. As a result, food is not plentiful. By being overweight, a woman demonstrates the wealth of her family.

The people of Mauritania hold obesity in such high regard that all of their love songs speak of heavy women. As one man put it, “A man’s goal is to marry a woman that fills his house. She needs to decorate it like an armoire or a TV set.”

The men feel so strongly that their women should be overweight that they actually threaten to divorce their wives if they lose weight. Although American women may think this mindset would be a blessing, it has actually caused a number of problems for the women of Mauritania.

First, there are the obvious health problems associated with being overweight. Obese women are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other potentially fatal illnesses. In addition to these health risks, however, families are taking extreme measures to plump up their daughters.

“When I was little, my mother hit me to eat because I didn't want to be fat. Now I want to be big because men like that." – A Mauritanian woman who wants to gain more than 20 pounds.

In Mauritania, it has been a common practice among the wealthier families to actually force feed their daughters. Once woman recalls being forced to drink 14 gallons of camel’s milk every day. If she vomited as a result, she was beaten. If she tried to refuse to drink the milk, she was tortured by having her fingers bent backward until they touched the back of her hand. The girl could no longer run by the time she was ten and, as an adult, struggles just to walk up the stairs. Yet, her mother considers her to be the epitome of beauty.

As a result of this way of thinking, nearly a quarter of the women in Mauritania are obese, which equals about 1.5 million women. In order to put a stop to this epidemic, the Mauritanian government has started a television and radio campaign that warns the people of the health problems associated with obesity. The health ministry has even hired artists to create love songs about thin women.

This is vastly different from the American culture, where many groups are trying to take the focus off of the “thin is beautiful” way of thinking. Ironically, the American mentality has started to help with the problem, however, as the popularity of American soaps and their thin actors have started to make some of the elite in the country change their way of thinking. According to a survey in 2001, only 10% of Mauritanian women less than 19 years old had been force fed, while a third of those 40 or over had been.


Women Display Risk Factors of Diabetes Before Men

Diabetes is certainly a serious problem that affects both genders and all races. Although the signs of diabetes typically begin to show well before the disease is actually diagnosed, a recent report reveals that the signs can be detected in women far earlier than they are detected in men.

More specifically, there are three risk factors that tend to show up quite early in women. These include malfunction of the cells that line the inner surface of the blood vessels (called endothelial dysfunction), low levels of a hormone called adionectin, and having a higher than normal amount of breakdowns and formations of blood clots.

“Because these pre-diabetic markers are not routinely assessed, and because diabetes is strongly linked with coronary heart disease, the study may help explain why the decline in death rates for heart disease in diabetic women lags behind that of diabetic men.” - Richard Donahue, Ph.D. of the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and Lead Author of the study.

Once these signs appear, women need to start to carefully watch their bodies for diabetes. For men, however, these signs do not appear to be a tip off that diabetes is on the way.

The study used to conclude this information involved following 1,455 healthy subjects. When the same people that were initially studied were re-examined, it was found that the 52 women that had progressed to pre-diabetes has all of these signs when they were initially examined. The 39 men that had progressed to this stage, however, did not have these risk factors in their blood.


Women Increasingly Being Diagnosed with COPD

A recent report released in the Medical Journal of Australia has revealed that more women are dying from diseases related to smoking than ever before. Smoking is thought to be responsible for approximately 60% of the cases of COPD. As a result, the report is calling for creating more anti-cigarette campaigns that are targeted specifically toward women.

According to a review of hospital admissions in Australia, the number of deaths and admissions for asthma have fallen. At the same time, the rates of women diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, has risen. The disease is characterized by wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness.

In 1993 alone, 1,900 women in Australia lost their lives to the disease. This number increased to 2,300 in 2003. Men, on the other hand, had a drop during this same time period, with 4,000 losing their lives to the disease in 1993 and 3,200 in 2003. While more men are still currently affected by the disease than women, the trend is certainly disturbing for women.

Although the study was based in Adelaide in Australia, researchers state that the data represents international trends. People that go undiagnosed with the disease have also been found to have a poorer quality of life than those that have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment.


Imus Controversy May Be a Catalyst for Change

The controversy surrounding the comments and subsequent firing of shock jock Don Imus has been grabbing all of the headlines as of late. Initially, it seemed the controversy was primarily focused on whether or not the comments were racially charged. More recently, however, the focus has been placed more on how Imus’ comments are a reflection of society’s poor perception of women.

As a result of the controversy surrounding Imus’ comments, many groups and leaders have been mobilized and have found that their cause of fighting for women’s rights has suddenly gained more attention. More specifically, those fighting against what has been referred to as gangsta rap are taking advantage of the situation in order to get their message heard.

Upon his firing, Imus claimed that the lyrics in rap songs have called black women “worse names than I ever did.” Many agree with Imus’ statement, including the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has now made it one of his personal goals to help uplift the status of women.

“We will not stop until we make it clear that no one should denigrate women. We must deal with the fact that ho and the b-word are words that are wrong from anybody’s lips.”

Defenders of rap music, however, maintain that the music is a poetic expression that tells a story of the lives of the rap artist. They go on to say that the music should not be criticized. Rather, the critics should work to improve the lives of those growing up in the same hopeless and violent lifestyle as many gangsta rappers had to endure.

Rappers themselves defend their music, claiming there is a difference between the women they talk about in their songs versus educated women. According to rapper Snoop Dogg, “(Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about hos that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing – that’s trying to get a n- for his money.”

Whether music is to blame or not, what remains true is that women still are not viewed equally by many members of society. As a result, many people – both male and female –are working collectively to bring about a change.


Exercise May Prove to Help Relieve Menopause Symptoms

According to a study conducted by Penn State University, exercise can go a long way in helping women to fend off the symptoms associated with menopause. The study found that those women that were engaged in a routine exercise program self-reported having a better quality of life compared to those that did not exercise.

The study focused on 164 volunteers, all of whom were mostly sedentary prior to the study. The women were then divided into three groups. One of these groups met three times each week in order to walk together for an hour. Another group gathered in order to perform 90 minute yoga sessions. The final group did not exercise at all.

The study found that the women who exercised enjoyed an improved outlook and mood. When it came to hot flashes and night sweats, however, the results were mixed. Half of the women in the study reported an improvement in these areas, with most of them being women participating in the exercise groups. Those participating in the walking group, which is aerobic exercise, enjoyed greater benefits than those in the non-aerobic yoga group.

“It’s a nice reaffirmation that exercise is beneficial for lots of different things.” – Dr. Charles Castle, Lancaster gynecologist and member of the Pennsylvania Medical Society board of trustees

The study is not conclusive, however, as it did not account for the various stages of menopause. As such, it is possible that some of the women’s symptoms may have lessened on their own. The study was also unable to determine if the exercise actually decreased the symptoms or if women were simply in better moods after exercising.

With menopause affecting approximately 1.5 million women between the ages of 45 and 55 in the United States per year, any steps that can help improve the symptoms is sure to be well received.


Heart Disease the Number One Killer of Women

A recent study performed by the National Institutes of Health has confirmed what has been suspected for a few months now: heart disease is officially the number one killer of women in the United States.

According to the study, heart disease is now responsible for more deaths than even cancer. In fact, two in every five deaths of women in the United States is related to either heart disease or to stroke.

Traditionally, heart disease was thought of as a disease affecting more men than women. Due to this misconception, women have often ignored this potential danger. As a result, the American Heart Association is working heard to educate American women in regards to steps they can take to reduce their chances of suffering from heart disease.

There are a number of symptoms that women should watch for, all of which can be signs of a problem with the heart. These include: shortness of breath without chest pain, suddenly feeling exhausted despite a lack of activity, and pain the lower chest that is often mistaken for stomach problems.

“If you look at statistics of women who’ve died suddenly of heart attack, two-thirds died before they could reach the hospital.” - Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at New Your University and Medical Director of the Women’s Heart Program

All of these symptoms tend to be subtle in women. In addition, they can easily be mistaken for other problems that are not associated with the heart. As a result, women fail to realize the danger they are in. For this reason, many of the women that die from heart disease actually die before ever reaching the hospital.

In order to reduce the risk of heart disease, women need to refrain from smoking and drinking. In addition, they should watch their diets and avoid overeating. Integrating exercise into her daily routine will also reduce the chances of developing this fatal disease.


Many Women Pay More For Health Coverage Than Men

According to a recent study conduct by Harvard Medical School researchers, women pay more as a result of high-deductible health insurance plans than men do. As a result, when employers change their health coverage to those with high-deductibles, women are effectively taking a pay $1,000 pay cut per year.

The Harvard study examined the expenses for men and women below the age of 45 and found that men spend less than $500 per year on medical deductibles. Conversely, women spend more than $1,200. The study also found that only a third of men insured by a high-deductible plan spend over $1,050 per year in medical costs. When it comes to women, however, 55% are paying more than this cost.

“High-deductible plans punish women for having breasts and uteruses and having babies. When an employer switches all his employees into a consumer-driven health plan, it's the same as giving all the women a $1,000 pay cut, on average, because women on average have $1,000 more in health costs than men” - Steffie Woolhandler, lead author of the study

The reason for women spending more on medical deductibles was directly related to the fact that women have a number of routine examinations that are necessary simply because they are women. These examinations include mammograms, Pap tests, cervical cancer vaccinations, birth control, and costs related to pregnancy.


Exercise Can Reduce Arthritis Pain In Elderly Women

Arthritis is an unfortunate side effect of aging for many women. As a result, they experience achy and stiff joints that can make movement seem impossible. According to a new Australian study, however, exercise and movement can actually help reduce the pain associated with arthritis in women.

According to the lead author of the study, Kristiann Heesch from the University of Queensland in Australia, it isn’t necessarily to start maniacally exercising in order to reduce arthritis-related pain. Rather, a bit of simple walking or engaging in moderate activities can be highly beneficial.

"If we could put out a pill that would solve a lot of problems, it would be physical activity, but we can‘t wrap it up into a little pill and give it to people” - Kristiann Heesch from the University of Queensland in Australia

The study indicates that getting exercise for just 75 minutes per day for women in their 70s can lead to significantly less symptoms. Those that were active for at least 2 ½ hours per week experienced even less difficulties and continued to experience less pain for three years afterward. The study also showed that the strongest link between exercise and arthritis was a reduction in lower joint pain. The reasons for this connection, however, are not quite clear.

Although exercise was beneficial in combating arthritis pain in older women, the study found that middle-aged women did not receive the same benefits.


New Guidelines for Mammography Screenings Released

The American College of Physicians has just released new guidelines for women between the ages of 40 and 49 when it comes to mammography screenings. According to the new guidelines, women need to take more factors under consideration when deciding whether or not to have a mammography than just their age.

This new way of looking at a woman’s risk for breast cancer was initiated by the fact that the risk of breast cancer is not evenly distributed when it comes to women in this age group. Therefore, not all women need to have a mammography at this age. In fact, there are some potential issues with having a mammography at this age, as false-positive results are possible. In addition, there is the risk involved with unnecessary radiation exposure.

“It is important to tailor the decision of screening mammography by discussing the benefits and risks with a woman, addressing her concerns, and making it a joint decision between her and her physician.” – Amir Qaseem, MD, PHD, DHA and lead author of the study

According to the new guidelines, clinicians should periodically perform an assessment for each of their patients in order to determine their risks for breast cancer. The clinicians should then inform women in this age group about the benefits as well as the risks involved with a screening. The final decision as to whether a screening is necessary needs to be based on whether or not the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

If the clinician and the patient decide a screening is not necessary at the time, the issue should be addressed again every one to two years. These new guidelines represent The American College of Physicians’ stance that women should be encouraged to make more informed decisions about their bodies.


Women Techie Being Threatened Online

A recent controversy surrounding a female blogger has brought to light the extremes of cyberbulling as well as the lack of respect women continue to have within the technology field.

Kathy Sierra, who is a game developer and programming instructor, has been maintaining a blog for quite some time now. Within her blog, she has provided inspiration, advice, guidance, and information to her fellow techies. As of late, however, she has started to receive a number of death threats and other violent threats.

Some of the threats Sierra has received have included graphic images of her being suffocated/silenced or of her next to a noose. Many of the threats have been sexual in nature as well.

“If you want to do something about it – do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech – these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like – but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech – however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.” - Kathy Sierra, written on her blog in response to recent threats

As can be expected, Sierra now fears leaving her house out of concern for her safety. She has also cancelled her upcoming speaking arrangements and has even decided to discontinue her blog.

The reasons behind the death threats Sierra is receiving are unclear, though most of the threats make reference to the fact that she is female and that these cretins wish her to be silenced. While Sierra is a supporter of free speech, it is clear that these death threats go beyond maintaining one person’s rights as they infringe upon another person’s right to live her life in safety.

Research Indicates Magazine Ads Make Women Feel Bad About Themselves

A recent study revealed what women and psychology experts have long suspected: ads containing beautiful and flawless women makes women feel bad about themselves. According to the study, even the most attractive of women find themselves feeling bad about their appearance when looking at these ads.

The study involved surveying 81 college women and asking them to rate their opinion about their own appearance. The questions ranged from asking their opinions on their facial features to their chest size.

After rating themselves, some of the women were asked to look at magazine ads containing fashion models. The other women were asked to look at ads without women. The women were then surveyed again and those that saw the ads with the fashion models reported a lower body image.

The survey also found that even attractive women experienced a negative self body image after viewing the fashion models. This effectively dispelled the myth that larger sized women or those struggling with eating disorders are the only ones negatively impacted by images of fashion models.

“Most women know intuitively or subconsciously that when they look at magazines they’ll feel badly about themselves.” – Laurie Mintz, associate professor of education, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education
The researchers involved with this study believe that even attractive women take a blow to self-esteem when seeing these ads because they are afraid of losing their attractive qualities. They also believe women still continue to look at these magazines and ads simply because they are looking for a way to be as beautiful as the women they see in the magazines. Even though women know these images are not realistic, they still hope to achieve this same unrealistic standard of beauty.

It is for this very reason that many marketing campaigns focus on making women feel as if they can avoid weight gain, signs of aging, and other “unattractive” qualities by purchasing and using their products. In essence, the ads strive to make women feel bad about themselves in an effort to get them to purchase their products.


Study Shows Aspirin May Help Prevent Death in Women

According to a recent study, women that consume low to moderate amounts of aspirin on a regular basis can severely reduce their risks of death. Deaths related to heart disease are particularly affected by taking aspiring.

The research study was performed by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. In all, 79,439 women were followed every two years from 1980 through to 2004. The study simply asked women if they were consuming aspirin on a regular basis and how many tablets they typically used per week.

The women selected for the study had no history or sign of cancer or cardiovascular disease when the study began. The study found that 45,305 women did not use aspirin, while 29,132 took low to moderate dosages and 5,002 took more than 14 aspirins per week.

By the end of the study, 9,477 of the women had passed away. 1,991 of these women died from heart disease and 4,469 died from cancer. The study found that the women reporting aspirin use had a 25% lower risk of death when compared to those that never used aspirin.

The study found a stronger correlation between using aspirin and a reduction in cardiovascular disease. In fact, those that used aspirin on a regular basis demonstrated a 38% lower risk. They also had a lower risk for cancer, with a 12% lower risk.

“Use of aspirin for one to five years was associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular mortality.” - Study published by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School
The exact link between aspirin and the reduction in death is not fully understood, though researchers believe aspirin has a positive effect on pathogenic pathways including insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cyclo-oxygenase enzyme activity.

Whether or not women should take aspirin was not determined through this research because the women were not prescribed regular dosages of aspirin versus placebo medication. Nonetheless, the study indicates that further research into the effects of aspirin is warranted.


South Carolina Requiring Women to See Images of Their Fetuses Before Having an Abortion

The South Carolina legislature passed a measure today that would force women planning on getting an abortion to see the ultrasound image of the fetus before the abortion may be performed. Although the measure has passed through the legislature, it must pass through one more time before it can officially become a law in the state.

According to lawmakers in South Carolina, the purpose of the law is to make women “think twice” before going through with an abortion. Some lawmakers, however, are not too happy with the law because they do not approve of making women do something they do not want to do. In addition, some have expressed concern that an amendment has not been added to the law that will make an exception for women that are victims of rape or incest.

Lawmakers in support of the law contend that the fetus has a right to life regardless of the way it is conceived. They further argue that women looking to have an abortion performed will simply claim to have been raped or to be the victim of incest in order to avoid having to see the fetus.

Despite the fact that more women fail to report a rape than make up one that never happened, the majority of South Carolina lawmakers are against adding an amendment to the bill. In fact, a proposal to grant an exception to this rule for rape victims for whom a judge has determined probably cause or has issued a warrant did not pass among the lawmakers.


Eating Junk Food Increases Chances of Developing Cancer

According to recent studies, junk food may be worse for women than was once thought. Of course, the risk for heart disease, weight gain, and other similar illnesses have long been understood. What was not understood, however, was the fact that it is also linked to an increased chance of developing cancer.

One major European study recently revealed that women with higher levels of blood sugar are also significantly more likely to develop cancer of the skin, pancreas, urinary tract, and the womb. In another study, it was found that older women with high-fat diets were 15% more likely to develop breast cancer. Diets consisting of 40% fat or more put women at the highest risk category.

“The results of this research are concerning. However, the good news is that it is possible to reduce our blood sugar levels by eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight.” – Dr. Greg Martin, Science and Research Manager for the World Cancer Research Fund
The link between high blood sugar levels and diabetes has also been long understood, but the connection with cancer remains a mystery yet to be solved. What is known, however, is that women with this form of diabetes are also more likely to develop cancer. In fact, the studies found that the 25% of women with the highest blood sugar readings were 26% more likely to develop cancer than the women on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The research has found that approximately 40% of cancer cases could be prevented if women made an effort to follow a healthy lifestyle.

This study, which took place over 13 years, followed nearly 65,000 adults. Though the study found a link between junk food and cancer in women, there was no link between junk food and men.


Human Paplilomavirus Deserves More Attention

The most common sexually transmitted disease is human paplilomavirus, or HPV. In fact, researchers believe that most people will have this disease at sometime in their lives. Yet, many women have never even heard of the disease.

Young adults are the highest risk group for HPV, primarily because they tend to be the most sexually active population. At the same time, they fail to realize that they can actually use a vaccine to help prevent them from contracting HPV. Rather, they wait until they have been diagnosed with the disease before they begin trying to learn more about it.

The reason for the lack of public knowledge about this disease is twofold. First, it tends to receive less attention than other sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and HIV/AIDS. Secondly, the company that markets the vaccine against HPV focuses more on cervical cancer prevention rather than HPV prevention.

"Even if a young woman has one type of high-risk HPV, there's nothing to say that she cannot be infected with the other three." - Dr. Tina Tan, infectious disease specialist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Despite the lack of attention HPV receives and the fact that it is a common disease, that doesn’t mean it is not a problem. In fact, high risk strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer, as well as genital warts and even infertility in women.

Men generally are not adversely affected by HPV. Rather, they carry the disease and spread it to their sexual partners without even realizing it. In addition, those men that know they have HPV sometimes mistakenly believe condoms will prevent the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, research has demonstrated that condoms are not 100% effective against HPV.

Due to the fact that men can carry HPV without knowing it combined with the fact that condoms are not 100% effective against preventing it, the more sexual partners a woman has, the more likely she is to contract HPV. Of course, all it takes it one partner to catch the disease.

Even women that have already contracted HPV can benefit from the vaccination. Since there are several different types of HPV, the vaccination can prevent contracting the worse forms of the disease. In order to prevent the spread of this disease, Federal officials are no recommending that girls receive the HPV vaccination as young as the age of nine.


March of Dimes Makes Plea for Universal Medical Insurance Coverage

The senior vice president of the March of Dimes, Dr. Marina L. Weiss, recently made a plea to the Senate Committee on Finance on behalf of all women of childbearing age. Backed with a number of staggering statistics, Dr. Weiss asked the Senate Committee to consider offering Universal Coverage for women of childbearing age.

According to Dr. Weiss, a 2005 Census conducted by the March of Dimes found that approximately 28% if women of childbearing age were uninsured. In addition, their data indicated that the number of women of childbearing age that are uninsured has risen steadily since 2002. In that year, 12.1 million were uninsured while 12.9 million found themselves without coverage in 2005.

“The Foundation's mission to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality can best be fulfilled if women of childbearing age have the health coverage that enables them to receive essential health services when they need them.” – Dr. Marina L. Weiss, March of Dimes Senior Vice President
The fact that so many women of childbearing age is particularly alarming to the March of Dimes because the Institute of Medicine has reported that women who are uninsured tend to receive less prenatal services. Of course, the less prenatal services a woman has, the more likely she is to experience complications during her pregnancy.

Since the mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality, providing universal coverage seems like a logical first step toward achieving this goal.


Ashley Judd Takes Up the Fight for Women’s Rights

Women around the world are still fighting for equal rights, though women in some countries are finding the battle to be a bit harder than women in other countries. One of the countries where women are still struggling dramatically is in India, where many women don’t even understand the rights they have.

In order to help women in India begin to better understand their rights, actress Ashley Judd has taken an active role in the fight. Judd is representing a Washington-based nonprofit organization by the name of Population Services International. In this role, she made a weeklong visit to India in order to help promote awareness regarding HIV/AIDS.

“The empowerment of girls and women is an essential tool to preventing the HIV/AIDS emergency from exploding and further.” - Ashley Judd, American Actress and representative of Population Services International

During her visit, Judd met with various sex workers – recent estimates show that there are at least 10,000 sex workers currently employed throughout the financial capital of Mumbai.

India is home to the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, with 5.7 million people currently infected. The government has launched a number of campaigns encouraging the use of condoms in order to prevent the further spread of the disease. Getting the women of India to better understand their rights and to become empowered to take the steps necessary to prevent infection is key to preventing the further spread of the disease.


Avon Sheds Light on Female Sense of Empowerment

Avon just released the results of its 2007 Avon Worldwide Women’s Poll to the United Nations. The purpose of the poll was to pinpoint the concerns women throughout the world are facing as well as to measure their sense of life satisfaction and empowerment.

According to these results, 92% of the women polled from around the world feel they have control over their own lives. The number drops to 89% when asked if they felt satisfied about their religions or spiritual lives. 88% of women polled felt they had power over their ability to care for their family.

“We know, and celebrate, that women across the world continue to enjoy increasing freedom and success. From economic empowerment to desires to improve their education, personal safety, and health, in this research we hear women from across the world expressing hope for a better tomorrow. We are especially encouraged to hear the strongest optimism come from women whose countries have the farthest to go.” – Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO of Avon

Overall, the women polled reported they believed their futures were bright. In addition, over 60% of women polled felt that a woman would be elected as head of state within their own country within the next ten years. Ironically, women in developing countries actually had a greater level of optimism than those living in developed countries, with two-thirds of women in developing countries stating they believed young women would have a better life in ten years than women are currently experiencing. Nearly half the number of women in developed countries responded in the same way, perhaps because women are already enjoying a increased level of empowerment in these countries.

Despite their bright hopes for the future, women in developing countries responded that they were unhappy with the educational opportunities before them. In all, approximately 40% of women polled felt satisfied with their career opportunities. In developed countries, this number increased to 52% while only 33% of women in developing countries felt this way.


AIDS is the Leading Cause of Death for Young African-American Women

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the leading cause of African-American women between the ages of 25-34 is AIDS. The information was based on data collected during 2004 and is shocking the medical community.

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and it looks like more attention needs to be focused on this day in order to slow down the rate of death caused by this preventable disease. Women in particular need to move beyond the mentality that it “Will never happen to me,” as women are far more likely to contract the disease then men. Women that do not use drugs and that have sex exclusively with other women, however, have a far lower incidence of AIDS. Nonetheless, 127,150 women in the United States are currently living with the disease – 64% of which are African-American women.

But, young women aren’t the only group being affected by the disease. In fact, senior citizens are starting to see an increase in AIDS cases. This is thought to be partly because of the introduction and popularity of drugs such Viagra and Cialis. Still, the African-American female population remains the biggest concern. In fact, in 2005, the rate of African-American women being diagnosed with the disease was roughly 24 times the rate of white women and four times the rate of Hispanic women.


Spousal Abuse Still a Problem for Women

According to a recent survey, approximately one in four women over the age of 65 have been abused either sexually, physically, or psychologically. Furthermore, a survey of 370 women showed that approximately 26.5% of women experienced some form of violence from their partner and 3.5% of these women had undergone this abuse within the past 5%.

These statistics demonstrate that, although women have come a long way in the last several decades, many are still choosing to remain in relationships with abusive mates. This is often because the abusive spouse or mate will go through periods of time during which he is kind and reminds the woman of the man she fell in love with. These sneak peaks into the once kindhearted man she knew causes the woman to hang on in hopes that he is finally back for good. In addition, many women make excuses for their mates and actually justify the abuse they suffer.

Fortunately, the number of resources available to a woman suffering from abuse is plentiful. Of course, in an emergency situation, a woman can dial 911 in order to get help. But, she can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. The hotline is available 24 hours per day, ever day of the year. By calling the hotline, women suffering from abuse will be referred to nearby agencies that will provide them with help and a safe haven – this includes women that are fleeing from abuse along with their children.


Strong Fighter For Women's Rights Passes Away

As women around the country prepare to celebrate women's history month, one of today's most important women in the fight for equal rights has passed away. Doris Anderson, who was an author and magazine editor, is known for her efforts in campaigning for women's rights.

As far back as 1957, when Anderson become editor of Chatelaine magazine, the spunky female was determined to provide readers with "something serious to think about, something to shake them up." For the 20 years after she was awarded the position, she did just that. Topics covered by the magazine while under her supervision included legalizing abortion, pay equity issues, divorce laws, the plight of working mothers, and family violence. Soon, the magazine became known as one of very few publications to truly express feminist ideals.

After leaving the magazine, Anderson was appointed to president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. It was also through her efforts that women banded together and convinced the government to add a clause to the Constitution stating that women are equal to men in the eyes of the law a change that didn't take place until 1981.

Anderson passed away in St. Michael's Hospital from pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 85 after battling poor health for many years. Her efforts are truly appreciated by women everywhere and will not be forgotten.


Women's History Month: A Time to Reflect

Today marks the first day of Women's History Month, which means it is time to reflect on some of the most important moments in women's history.

The women's suffrage movement got moving in 1848 when the first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. During the Civil War, the women's rights movement got tied in with the plight of slaves and many women of the time felt that they were working together with Negroes in order to win the same rights. When the war ended, however, the Negro vote became more important to politicians and women's rights took a backseat once again.

Enraged by the lack of attention women's rights were receiving, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women of the time started the American Equal Rights Association in 1866. The purpose of the organization was to help bring women together in an effort to fight for their rights. In 1868, women's rights suffered another blow, however, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified and defined voters as being male.

It wasn't until 1878 that the Woman's Suffrage Amendment was introduced. Nonetheless, it took a great deal of picketing, protesting, and petitioning before the Nineteenth Amendment was finally passed in 1920 and women earned the right to vote. Despite this victory, it took all the way until 1972 before Congress would pass the Equal Rights Amendment that protected women against discrimination. Nonetheless, the Amendment still has never been ratified.

Many women fail to realize the struggles their sisters have endured in order to get to where they are today. This is precisely why the National Women's History Project is holding a celebration in Washington DC on March 21. Reservations can be made by visiting the National Women's History Project website.


Pay Per Post Just Makes My Life Difficult

I rarely post on this blog - it's not my job. My job (among others) is to sort through the submissions to the BlogsByWomen directory (you didn't think a human had to do that did you :)

Yesterday, instead of being mildly amusing with occasional highlights, checking the blogs sucked.

Why? Because of all the Pay Per Post spam!

A full 40% of the sites submitted had PPP in them.

I had to fully read and check every blog instead of a quick scan to catch the obvious spammers and stinky boys. It took three times longer than usual. I figure I'll learn to spot these as fast as the usual suspects, but for right now... Ugh.

Because of that we have had to add a PPP checkbox to the submission form.

One of the thoughts that kept paddling across my head as I bumped into more and more of these was how out of place these postings are. For example, on a blog about TV shows is a post about "Understanding men", and "Sell Your home Fast" with the required link back to the spam site.

Other musings were:
  • "If dooce started blogging now, would she fill her blog with spam like these people?".
  • "Is there much money in PPP?" - the answer to this one is not really. The highest all time earner has only made $6,500 or so. Good money in India but here it's probably below minimum wage for the time involved.
  • "Doesn't anyone realize the big money is in really good, original content?"
Well, that's enough from me. Two posts from me is way too much. Hopefully I won't get as annoyed by this tomorrow.

What Gives With All The Pay Per Post?

We're behind on updating the blogsbywomen.org directory and a funny thing happened over those few days... PayPerPost submissions are stuffed into almost every blog we've reviewed so far (there's another 40+ to go so maybe it'll get better).

Here's the reaction I personally had when reviewing those particular sites... ick!

As an example, here are the titles from the first blog that really had me saying WTF? From the About Us , the site is "by three girls" who are about breast cancer walks and such.

golf course living
garage sale
fertility facts
$500 lanyard
ask an eye doctor
at it again
find a therapist
straighten up
cottage cheese thighs

See if you can figure out which ones of those are sponsored, as none of them are categorized or marked in any way as being promos.

Give up? The ones with stars are paid:

golf course living *
garage sale
fertility facts *
$500 lanyard
ask an eye doctor *
at it again
find a therapist *
viruz *
straighten up
cottage cheese thighs *

So 60% of the first page is paid posts. None of the posts are about cancer walks, or the "girls" posting to the blog, or about womens issues, but at least the blog poster is a woman.

We don't have a problem with people making a living through blogging but this just feels like the spammy end of the business pool to us.

As the old ad says, "Where's the Beef?".

Maybe we're just seeing the poorly executed (although the only poster on this example blog, Collen, is one of the top earners on PayPerPost), or maybe payperpost is just kinda icky as a way to make money online.

We may have to implement a policy on this so dive in and give us your opinions.

High-Fat Dairy Products Linked to Improved Fertility

An interesting new study has determined that women that are trying to conceive may improve their chances by drinking whole fat milk and eating ice cream. Apparently, women following diets that include low-fat dairy products are actually reducing their chances of conceiving.

This latest news was recently published in a reproductive medicine journal in Europe. But, researchers in the United States have also discovered a similar link between following a low-fat dairy diet and an increased risk for infertility. It appears that following a low-fat dairy diet decreases ovulation and, in fact, women that consumed two or more servings of low-fat dairy foods increased their risk of decreased ovulation by 85% when compared to women that ate only one serving of low-fat dairy foods per week.

Conversely, the research in the United States demonstrated that women who ate at least one serving of high-fat dairy foods every day had a 27% reduced risk of infertility due to problems with ovulation when compared to women that ate one or less high-fat dairy servings per week.

As a result of this study, some doctors are recommending that women trying to conceive should change their low-fat dairy products out for those that are high in fat. But, women need to take into consideration that consuming high fat dairy products will also increase their calorie intake. Therefore, they need to cut back on calories elsewhere in order to prevent gaining weight.

“They [women trying to conceive] should consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods; for instance, by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating ice cream, not low fat yogurt.” – Dr. Jorge Chavarro, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health
This research sheds new light on the Dietary Guidelines currently being recommended to Americans, which includes consuming three or more servings of low-fat dairy products. Obviously, following these guidelines could be detrimental to a woman trying to conceive.

Of course, women that are not trying to conceive should continue to consume low-fat dairy products, as they are far healthier in terms of limiting the amount of fat the woman consumes. In addition, after the woman successfully conceives, she should resume consuming low-fat dairy products rather than high-fat products.

The exact connection between high-fat dairy products and improved fertility are still not completely understood. Researchers believe, however, that a fat-soluble substance is present in high-fat dairy products and that this substance helps to actually improve ovarian function.


Menstrual Cycles Cause Muscle Injuries?

New research has demonstrated that the sudden change in hormone levels that a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle can make them more prone to developing muscle injuries. The study indicates that the sudden rising and falling of estrogen and relaxin during different times of the month can actually weaken the ligaments and muscles, making women more likely to experience injury.

Portland Hospital in London tracked 17 women that experience what is considered to be “regular” menstrual cycles. The researchers found that these women experienced a sudden drop in their estrogen levels in the middle of their cycle. Since estrogen is responsible for strengthening ligaments and muscles, it makes sense that a drop in these levels makes injury more likely.

The research also found that relaxin rises as around the 24th to 26th days of the cycle, as it approaches its end. The body increases the levels of this hormone in order to help open the cervix for menstruation to occur. This also causes a relaxation of the ligaments, which can cause problems with the neck and lower back.

In light of this research, those involved with the study hope that female athletes can create a training routine that makes them less likely to be injured by working around their menstrual cycle. Taking a combined contraceptive pill can also help avoid risk, as these pills help keep hormonal levels fairly consistent.


More Women Waiting to Tie the Knot

Apparently, it is becoming far more common for women to live without a spouse. With the exception of periods of war, more women in the United States are currently living without a spouse than ever before. According to a 2005 census, 51% if women in the United States are now living along. This is in stark contrast to 1950 when only 35% of women were living without a spouse.

According to Professor Stephanie Coontz, who is the Director of Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, this change is just a natural reflection of the fact that women are increasingly waiting to get married. In addition, more women are willing - and able - to leave marriages that are making them unhappy. In fact, many women are simply choosing to say no to marriage in general as they find they are capable of living a happy and full life without having a spouse.

Everywhere around the world, except in Afghanistan under the Taliban, women have been pouring into the labor force. They have been increasing their representation in education. Women are now a majority of university students in many, many countries, not just in the United States. That means that they have more options than in the past. They can postpone marriage. And when they do enter marriage, they have different expectations than women who used to be forced to marry even if they are not fully in love because they needed a man to confer their legal rights, to support them economically, and give them the social respectability. - Professor Stephanie Coontz, Director of Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families

Coontz does not, however, mean to imply that women do not believe in marriage. Rather, they are more willing to wait for a relationship based on mutual regard, equality, and common interests before tying the knot. In the past, many women chose a spouse based on the economic security it provides or on the social status it offers. As women increasingly earn their own wages and levels of respect, these factors are no longer a consideration for most.

Coontz predicts that this change will actually be positive for the American society, and for the rest of the world where women are increasingly getting into the workforce and becoming more independent. According to Coontz, this change will result in women making better choices in their spouses and raising more stable and happy families.


Harvard Promotes its First Woman to Position of President

Harvard has recently announced that it will be promoting its first woman to position of president. Drew Gilpin Faust, currently the dean for the University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will be the first women to fill this prestigious position in the 371 history of the University.

The news of Faust’s promotion to this position is particularly meaningful considering the previous president, Lawrence H. Summers, had remarked that women have a lower “intrinsic aptitude” for science than their male counterparts.

Faust will be the 28th president of the University, and reports indicate that the members of the Harvard faculty and staff are pleased with her placement in the position. Apparently, her predecessor was not very accomplished when it comes to bringing together workers and persuading them to jump on board with change. In fact, Faust has been referred to as an “experienced consensus-builder.” In fact, Bruce H. Mann from the Carl Schipper law department commented “she knows that you can get people to go a lot farther if you persuade them rather than if you drag them.”

In her move to University president, Faust will go from overseeing just 100 employees in her current position to overseeing 25,000.


FDA Concerned About the Effectiveness of Current Birth Control Pills

According to the FDA, newer forms of birth control pills are failing to be as effective against preventing pregnancy as those that have been around for several years.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, over 60% if women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States are using some type of birth control, with 11.6 million of these women using the pill. Throughout the world, this form of contraception is a $5 billion market. Nonetheless, new documents indicate that newer forms of hormonal contraception are not as effective as older forms. In fact, some have twice the failure rate as their older counterparts.

The reasons behind the decrease in effectiveness is not fully understood, though researchers believe it is likely because the manufacturers of hormonal contraception are using lower doses of the hormones used to stop ovulation. Lowering the doses, however, was done in order to reduce the risk of developing blood clots while taking the pill.

"Today most birth control pills are very safe for the vast majority of
women."- Amy Allina, Program Director for the National Women’s Health

So, now the question is this: Which is more important – to improve the efficiency of birth control pills or to decrease the risks associated with hormonal contraception?

The FDA hopes to answer this question by bringing it to a panel comprised of obstetricians, gynecologists, neurologists, and statisticians. In the past, the FDA approved birth control pills that effectively prevented 99 out of 100 pregnancies. Current pills are shown to effectively prevent 98 out of 100 pregnancies. The panel will determine whether or not this small change in failure rates is acceptable

The panel will also determine whether or not the women used in the clinical trials are an appropriate representative mix of those using the pills. Currently, these trials typically exclude women that are overweight or that smoke, as well as those with a history of heart trouble.


Non-Smoking Women at Increasing Risks for Lung Cancer

According to recent reports, women are increasingly becoming more likely to develop lung cancer than men – including those that have never smoked. The reasons behind this phenomenon are not understood. Nonetheless, data shows that women that never smoked develop lung cancer in 14.4 to 20.8 per 100,000 people. Men, on the other hand, develop lung cancer in 4.8 to 13.7 per 100,000 people. In all, it is estimated that 8% to 20% of people with lung cancer have never smoked.

A couple theories have been created to explain this shocking finding. One theory is that more women are affected by second-hand smoke because more men smoke than women and women may be exposed to second-hand smoke on a more frequent basis. These women would still fall under the category as people that have never smoked.

Another theory is that exposure to certain environmental factors that lead to lung cancer may be more common for women. Dietary factors and genetic factors are other theories under investigation. Despite the various theories, no one knows or sure why non-smoking women are becoming increasingly victimized by lung cancer.
There is good news to report, however. For example, lung cancer victimized that never smoked are more likely to respond positively to drug therapy. In addition, they have a higher survival rate than their smoking counterparts.


Male Sweat Causes Women to Become Sexually Aroused

A recent study revealed that male sweat actually contains a compound called androstadienone that sexually arouses women and gives a boost to their moods.

According to Claire Wyart, PhD, who headed up Berkley Olfactory Research Project at the University of California, this compound causes hormonal, psychological, and physiological changes to women. This research is expected to actually help researchers develop new treatments for people experiencing hormone problems.

In order to conduct the study, the researchers found 21 healthy and heterosexual of the average age of 22. The women then watched a nature video that was considered to be soothing in order to get them in a relaxed mood. Then, they smelled either a jar containing androstadienone or baker’s yeast as the researchers monitored their heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, breathing, and fidgeting.

After sniffing the contents of the jar, the women watched a five minute video that was either sad, funny, or erotic. Then, they watched a ten minute video that was emotionally neutral. The women then rated their moods as well as the pleasantness of the odor in the vial and their level of sexual arousal. The effects of androstadienone were found to more pronounced when in these various emotional settings.

In regard to the pleasantness of the smells, both the androstadienone and baker’s yeast were rated the same. The intensity of both smells were rated the same as well. Yet, the androstadienone caused a difference in mood. Of course, there are more compounds in sweat than androstadienone, but it is promising that this chemical can be used to help induce hormonal changes in those needing them for medical purposes.


New Blog Hits the Fashio Runways

A new blog has just been launched that makes it easier for every woman to keep her finger on the pulse of fashion. Today, the Wall Street Journal Online launched its new blog entitled “Heard on the Runway.” This blog is to be continually updated with news and images from the runway. In addition, it will provide an analysis of the runways from Milan, New York, and Paris.

The blog is meant to provide up-to-the-minute updates direct from the runways, making it a truly even-driven blog. So, even the most fashion conscious women will be able to stay current on what is sweeping the runways.

The blog will be maintained by a number of fashion and luxury gurus and, in addition to bringing the latest news from the runway, it will also provide readers with a behind-the-scenes look at exclusive events and parties that these experts will be attending. It will also include interviews with designers, CEOs and retailers.


Trends in Pregnancies Changing at a Fairly Rapid Pace

It seems that the trend in pregnancies has been taking quite a turn in recent years. Whereas many have worried about teenage pregnancies, the number of teenage girls getting pregnancy is going down. Conversely, the number of women waiting until they are 30 years old or older to have children is going up.

In the past 30 years, the number of women 30 years old and older having children has climbed to 96 out of every 1,000 women. Similarly, girls between the ages of 15 and 19 having babies has fallen to about 40 out of every 1,000 girls – a 2% decrease. The decrease is especially prevalent in non-Hispanic teenage black girls, who have experienced a 59% drop in pregnancies since 1991.

The reason for these changes? According to Brady Hamilton of the National Center for Health Statistics, more and more women are choosing to pursue their education and their careers before starting a family. This appears to be a natural evolution in the changing roles of women in the American society.

Hamilton states that the decrease in teenage pregnancies appears to be from a combination of factors, including a push in programs promoting abstinence and those that promote taking responsibility for sexual behavior. Despite these apparently positive affects of these programs, the number of births to unmarried woman has risen, with 48 of every 1,000 births being to unmarried women.


Gel Intended to Prevent AIDS in Women Actually Increases Their Risks

A new gel designed to help protect women from the AIDS virus has shown disappointing results. The gel, which goes by the name of Ushercell and is produced by a company called Polydex Pharmaceuticals, is a microbicide that is intended to stop women from getting infected with the deadly virus. Unfortunately, it was actually found to increase the chance of a woman becoming infected.

39 million people around the world are infected with AIDS - Half of which are women

In the preliminary trials, which involved 500 women, there was no indication of an increased risk of infection. The advanced trial, which involved 1,333 women from Benin, South Africa, India, and Uganda showed different results. As a result, the second trial that was supposed to take place in Nigeria was stopped.

Similar trials had taken place previously with a spermicide called nonoxynol-9. This gel was also found it increase the risk of HIV infection rather than reduce it.

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS were both involved with coordinating the trial studies. Both organizations are obviously disappointed with the results and have stated they are unsure of why the gels were not only unsuccessful, but actually had the opposite of the desired results. The organizations claim to have three other compounds that are being studied for preventing HIV infection. All three are in the advanced stages of trials.


Women at an Increased Risk for Heart Disease

In the past, heart disease was not as much of a concern for women as it was for men. But, times have changed. According to a recent report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, women are now at a greater risk of developing heart problems than men. As such, women are actually now more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack.

Even more frightening, the report claims that women are less likely to be treated by a heart specialist or to be treated to a new facility for care. As a result, women are less likely to receive the same life-saving procedures as their male counterparts. This is likely due to the fact that heart problems are perceived as a “male” problem.

“Women need to be aware that heart disease and stroke are equal opportunity killers, and women need to go in and talk to their family doctors at an annual health exam….and talk about a cardiac risk assessment.” - Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation

The rise in female fatalities connected to heart troubles is not fully understood, though specialists believe it is a combination of social and biological factors. The problems within the medical community and the failure to recognize heart problems in women is also a likely contributor. In fact, the risk of a woman dying within 30 days following an incident is up a mind boggling 16% for heart attacks and 11% for stroke.

Of course, women themselves are also responsible for the rise. Women need to be aware of their risks and of the signs and symptoms associated with heart problems. Taking a quick assessment quiz is a good way for a woman to determine her individual risks and to come up with a plan for better health.


Japan Health Minister Offends Women Throughout the Country

The health minister in Japan has really stirred up a ruckus among the women of the country when he referred to them as “birth-giving machines.” Apparently, the health minister was addressing a potentially serious problem in Japan – a decrease in the population.

Contrary to other countries throughout the world, Japan is actually experiencing a decline in population. While other countries are trying to slow down the rate of population growth, Japan is worried about its population drop. This is a major concern for the country because of the possibility of labor shortages in the future as well as the difficulties the country will have with paying pensions and the health bills of the elderly.

In a speech to the country addressing this drop in population, which is primarily because of a decline in births, the health minister states that “The number of birth-giving machines [and] devices is fixed, so all we can ask is that they do their best per head.”

As can be imagined, referring to women as baby making machines did not go over too well with the women of the country. Similarly, the implied request for women to have more babies was not well-received in a country where it is still expected for women to quit their jobs after having a baby. Because of this societal expectation, more Japanese women are deciding not to have children or to only have one child.

The health minister did apologize for the remarks he made, but only because he recognized that his word choices were “too uncivil.” Apparently, he didn’t have a problem with the underlying message of what he had to say.
The leader of the Japanese Democratic Party summed it up nicely when he said, “It was extremely rude to women. Having children or not having children is naturally a matter that women and households are free [to decide themselves


Women Still Being Murdered for Being “Witches”

It appears that the fear of witchcraft is still alive today. Every United States citizen knows about the senselessness of the Salem Witch Trials. The embarrassment of this event is one that the country gladly puts behind it. But, in Papua New Guinea, the fear of sorcery is still leading to unnecessary deaths,

According to a recent report, police in Papua New Guinea discovered the bodies of four women that appeared to have been tortured until admitting to sorcery. Apparently, the women were blamed for the deaths of three prison officers, who were killed together in a car crash. Using hot metal rods, the villagers allegedly tormented the women before finally killing them and burying them in a standing position.

Although the women were actually killed in October, their bodies were only just discovered because the villagers successfully disguised the gravesite by planting a banana tree and free grass on top of it. They also placed a pair of old vehicle tires on top to further disguise the burial site.

According to reports, this case is not a rarity. The nation is well-known for suspecting women of being witches and killing them by burning them to death or hanging them.


Blog Seeks to Help Women Suffering from Domestic Violence

A recently introduced blog is putting a new twist on how people look at blogs. The Hope Centre blog has been created by the Preston Women’s Refuge’s Hope Centre, which is a sanctuary for women that are victims of domestic violence.

"The Hope Centre should stay open. If it wasn't for a flyer I
received at Hope Centre, I'd still be stuck in a nasty situation that would have
just got worse." - Mary, Hope Centre service user.

Apparently, the Centre is facing the possibility of having to shut its doors. So, in an attempt to spread awareness about domestic violence while also raising money to stay open for the women that need them, the Centre as launched what is being referred to as a “fly on the wall” blog.

In this blog, staff and women staying at the center keep an on-line diary or web-log of sorts. This blog providers readers with a real-time look at what is taking place at the Centre. In addition, it gives the women staying at the Centre the opportunity to express just how much the place means to them.

A visit to the blog can certainly become an eye-opening experience.


Plasma Transfusions from Women are Potentially Fatal

Scientists have discovered that the plasma from female blood donors causes a very serious condition in certain recipients. The condition, called TRALI, is a form of lung injury that affects only a few hundred people each year. But, approximately 10% of those affected ultimately die from the condition.

Not much is understood about TRALI, but it is characterized by the victim’s lungs filling with fluid and unable to breather. And, since most blood transfusion recipients are already ill to begin with, the condition sometimes goes unrecognized until it is too late.

"This is a bigger problem than we were aware of." - Dr.
Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the American Red Cross.

TRALI has become such a serious problem, in fact, that the number of reported cases have doubled in just the past two years. In response to this serious issue, the Lewis and Clark Region of the American Red Cross is working toward using only the plasma from male donors for those in need of a transfusion.

The connection between female plasma and TRALI still is not fully understood. It is believed that the antibodies created by the female body during pregnancy has a negative reaction with the white blood cells of the recipient.

The plasma of women still has its important uses. Rather than being used for blood transfusions, it can still be used to make life-saving medications for individuals with blood disorders. In addition, female blood donors are still vitally needed because more red blood cell transfusions are needed than plasma each year. In addition, the number of male donors is far from enough to cover the need.


Womb Transplant to Occur Later This Year

Doctors in the United States are hoping to perform the very first womb transplant from a deceased donor later this year. Already, the screening process has begun for the first woman recipient.

"The desire to have a child is a tremendous driving force for many women. We think we could help many women fulfill this very basic desire." Dr. Del Priore.

Doctors feel as if they are ready to begint the womb transplant process, believinig the surgery could potentially benefitthousands of women that had to have their womb surgically removed for health reasons or that were simply born without one.

The concept of a womb transplant isn't entirely new. In fact, a 26-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia has a womb transplant in 2000. Unfortunately, she suffered from complications and had to have the womb removed only 99 days after the surgery. In addition, the donor womb came from a 46-year-old living woman that agreed to have her womb removed while going through surgery for the removal of ovarian cysts.

The plan to use the womb of a deceased owner is entirely new and is not without complications. The woman receiving the womb will need to wait at least three months before undergoing an embryo transfer or in vitro fertilisation. Once the baby is born, which must be through Caesarean section, the womb also needs to ber removed. During the entire period the womb is in the woman's body, she would need to take anti-rejection drugs in order to prevent her body from rejecting the womb.

To date, womb transplants have been successfully completed on sheep, mice, macaque monkeys, and dogs. Nonetheless, there is controversy as to whether or not doctors are truly ready to try the surgery on a human. According to Thoams Murray from the Hastings Centre bioethics think tank, "This raises a set of very difficult medical and ethical questions. I think it's very questionable. This would be very hard to justify."

Is it hard to justify following through with a womb transplant? Or, should women be able to make the decision for themselves whether or not they should take the risks involved? If it is a woman's choice to end a pregnancy, should she also have the choice to undergo a womb transplant in order to become pregnant? Is science pushing it too far, or is this a step in the right direction for helping those who want to have children?


Women Still Not Becoming Engineers

It appears that not much has changed over the past several years - women are still not showing much interest in technical fields such as engineering. In fact, of the 855 people majoring in engineering at Georgia Tech, only 87 of them are women. On the national scale, only about 1/5 of enginerring students are women.

Why is it that women are not as interested in the field of engineering as their male counterparts? Is it due to stereotyping? Does our educational system fail to encourage women to enter the field? Are women just misinformed when it comes to what an engineer really does? According to one study, many women weren't interested in the field of engineering simply because they didn't perceive it as a field that allowed them to help others. Is this the key to getting more women into the field? Do schools and high school counselors need to better demonstrate to girls the many ways that engineering can impact the lives of others?

The fact is, the United States needs to find a way to get women more interested in the field of engineering if we hope to remain competitive with other countries in the field. Currently, the United States falls far behind other countries such as India and China when it comes to the number of engineers, and scientists in general for that matter, that we graduate from our colleges. Getting more women and minorities interested in the field is key to increasing our numbers of engineers. In addition, the diverse and creative perspective brought in by women can help set the United States apart from other countries. So, it is time to start finding some answers to these questions.


Study Reveals Women are Safer Drivers

According to a recent report, all of the jokes that have long been told about terrible women drivers are completely ungrounded. The report, which was released by Carnegie Mellon University, states that male drivers are actually 77% more likely to die in a car accident than women.

The report was created after viewing Traffic STATS, which provides a risk analysis of all of the road fatality statistics that were created at Carnegie Mellon University. The data details the risk for a variety of age groups and genders. The study didn't analyze why there was a difference in the fatality rates among genders, but theories center around differences in height and weight as well as how seatbelts and airbags are made.

When it comes to elderly women, however, young boys appear to be better drivers. It seems that elderly women over the age of 82 are the most likely to be killed in a car accident. But, young boys between the ages of 18 and 23 are a close second. And, while women are overall safer drivers, middle-aged women are more likely than men to be killed while driving an older car or when on a curvy road.

These statistics are just one more reason for car manufactures to look at the way they make their vehicles. What can they change about their design to improve the safety of all drivers? How roads of the future be changed to make them safer? Do laws need to be looked at more closely in order to improve safety? What should be done to make the roads safer for all?


Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Density

A recent study has concluded that women with extremely dense breasts are more likley to suffer from breast cancer than those with more fatty tissue. The difference in breast make-up is fairly easy to determine with a mammogram, where the fat looks darker than dense tissue. Unfortunately, density cannot be determined without the help of a mammogram.

Frighteningly, tumors are also lighter in color. Obviously, this makes it more difficult to locate tumors within dense breast tissue. In the past, researchers believed women with dense breasts had more cases of breast cancer simply because of the difficulty to locate tumors in the tissue. In reality, the new research has shown that women with dense breasts are actually five times more likely to develop tumors in the first place.

With the new findings, breast density is now added to the list of risk factors associated with breast cancer. Yet, this risk factor remains largely ignored by doctors. The question is, what can women do to get their doctors to take this risk more seriously? With so many women dying from breast cancer every year because risk factors such as density are being overlooked, it seems it is time for the research to be taken more seriously and for women to demand that their doctors take notice.


Belisi Announces Blog

Belisi, which has long been known for its luxury wardrobe accessories such as scarves and handbags, has recently announced a new blog at www.beingbelisi.com. To start with, the blog won't actually be written by a woman, but the target audience will certainly be women that are interested in luxury fashion. And, as an added little touch, the blog will actually be written by owner Peter Belisi. So, the information presented will be sure to be on the cutting edge of fashion and luxury.

Perhaps one of the most admirable traits of the Belisi brand is the owner's desire to give back to his roots. Having worked his way up to ladder of luxury, Belisis understands the struggles of the working class.

"The Belisi Brand was founded to enhance luxury wardrobes, while making the world a little brighter for everyone." - Peter Belisi

Belisi puts this credo to work with every purchase made of his luxury items, as a portion of the money is used to help fight poverty, to fund medical research, and to help protect the environment.


Drinking yourself to death for a Wii

A young mother that past away from water poisoning while trying to win a Wii for her children. A local CA radio station had a contest entitled "Hold your Wee for a Wii." After consuming a large amount of water in an attempt to win the game system (some estimates say she drank almost 2 gallons of water), the young mother told the judges she had a headache and left the contest. A few hours later, she was found dead.
"It appears the DJs involved in a fatal radio contest were well aware of the risks of drinking too much water during a contest in which listeners drank large amounts of water. A mother of three died after the contest on the Sacrament morning radio show." From CBS13
Not surprisingly, the family is suing the radio station for her death but is the radio station really liable for her death? What about personal responsiblity and saying no? The fact that they fired 10 employees over the matter may not look good at trial.