Raising Women’s Voices for National, Affordable Health Care: Women’s health advocates are at Simmons College in Boston today for the two-day "Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need" conference.

Raising Women’s Voices, a new national initiative, was founded by the Avery Institute for Social Change (led by Byllye Y. Avery, founder of the Black Women’s Health
Imperative), MergerWatch, and the National Women’s Health Network and involves the participation of many more women’s health organizations.

Sleep Loss Tops Menopause Symptoms: Getting a good night’s sleep is the most common and most severe problem for women entering menopause, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Nursing found 95 percent of the 110 participants suffered sleep difficulties; 92 percent had forgetfulness; 87 percent suffered from irritability; and 85 percent experienced night sweats.

Falling Breast Cancer Rates Prevalent Only Among White Women: "New research shows a sharp drop in U.S. breast cancer cases in recent years was limited to white women, possibly because they abandoned hormone replacement therapy in greater numbers than minority groups," reports Reuters.

White women had been more likely to use hormone therapy, and were also the most likely to abandon the drugs after U.S. regulators warned about the cancer link in 2003, according to Dr. Dezheng Huo of the University of Chicago and the study’s lead investigator.

"The sharp reductions seen in Caucasians aged 50 to 69 years were not seen among other ethnic groups," Hou told the American Association for Cancer Research.

The researchers said the decline has been mainly among women older than 50 with estrogen-receptor positive cancer.

Plus: Researchers are working on an experimental breast cancer vaccine that may reduce the risk of death for patients with tumors that generate a protein called HER-2, the largest sub-set of breast cancer patients.

Vaccines for Adults: You may have thought the time for shots has passed, but Harvard Health Publications identifies vaccines that can prevent a number of serious adult diseases, including a  tetanus and diphtheria booster and a Herpes Zoster (shingles) vaccine.

Too Much Information?: Writing in the L.A. Times, Anna Gosline discusses the results of her own genetic scan in this comprehensive story about the science behind expensive DNA tests that can identify a person’s genetic risk for some diseases. But there are many critics.

Dr. Muin Khoury, director of the National Office of Public Health Genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, offers this advice:
"If someone asks me, shall I take [the test]," Khoury says, "I would say ‘No, you don’t need it. Tell me about your family history. If you have a family history of skin cancer, stay away from the sun. If you have osteoporosis, take calcium supplements.’ We know what to do."

Plus: The New York Times reports on the temporary New York showroom of Navigenics, which charges $2,500 for DNA test results.

Americans Grow Happier as They Grow Older: That’s according to responses to questions about contentment with overall life gathered in the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center, which the National Science Foundation supports at the University of Chicago.

The study also found that baby boomers are not as content as other generations, African Americans are less happy than whites, men are less happy than women, happiness can rise and fall between eras, and that, with age the differences narrow.

"Understanding happiness is important to understanding quality of life. The happiness measure is a guide to how well society is meeting people’s needs," said Yang Yang, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and author of the article, "Social Inequalities in Happiness in the United States, 1972-2004: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis," published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.

As for why the baby boom generation was the least happy, Ylang said: "This is probably due to the fact that the generation as a group was so large, and their expectations were so great, that not everyone in the group could get what he or she wanted as they aged due to competition for opportunities. This could lead to disappointment that could undermine happiness."

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  • naomi dagen bloom April 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    We ALL need a better health care system. Many of us–did you see “Sick Around the World” on PBS’ Frontline this week? The U.S. is far behind several other countries.
    If you really want to DO something consider becoming better informed about the latest in health policy and how Single Payer (and other healthcare proposals) fit into the mix. You might even choose to become an advocate for a Single Payer plan. Free training on April 27 by the NY Metro chapter of PNHP, Physicians for a National Health Program.