Many Women Unclear About Breast Cancer Treatments: A new study in the journal Health Services Research has found that only half of all women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer clearly understand the risks and benefits of a mastectomy vs. a breast-conserving lumpectomy plus radiation, reports HealthDay News. And that’s the case even after they have had one of the procedures.

Only 51 percent of women in the study knew that patients who had a mastectomy or a lumpectomy plus radiation had the same five-year survival rate. Forty-eight percent of the women reported not knowing whether cancer recurrence rates were the same for mastectomy as they were for a lumpectomy with radiation.

The survey also revealed that black and Hispanic women were less likely to know about breast cancer survival and recurrence, as were older women and those with less education.

“Overall, women were not generally well-informed about the risks and benefits of the treatment they received,” study lead author Sarah Hawley, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Health System and research investigator at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare
System, said in a prepared statement.

Questions to Help Select Care Providers: The April issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers an overview of hospice care. This release includes a number of questions from the article that may be useful when evaluating available programs.

More Contraception Choices for Women 40+: “Birth control options
are growing for women 40 and older — a group that once viewed its
choices as pretty much limited to tube-tying surgery and condoms,” reports The Associated Press. The story looks at various options, including the pill, the IUD and a nonsurgical method of tube-tying.

Sexual Dissatisfaction Not Linked To Cardiovascular Disease: According to an article published in the April 2008 issue of The American Journal of Medicine (and summarized here),
“researchers found no increased prevalence or incidence of
cardiovascular disease among postmenopausal sexually active female
subjects who were dissatisfied with their sexual activity.”

Until now, the association between sexual dysfunction and
cardiovascular disease had never been studied in women, though in some
men sexual dysfunction is seen as predictive of problems such as heart
attacks and strokes.

The Pot Belly Risk: Carrying extra weight around your stomach at midlife might be linked to increased risk for dementia, according to a study published online in the journal Neurology.

“It is well known that fat around the waist, even in people who are not overweight, is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but this is the first finding of an association with
dementia,” reports The New York Times.

“People should be concerned not only about weight, but about where they carry it,” said Rachel A. Whitmer, the study’s lead author and a research scientist at the research division of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif. “And midlife is not too early to start thinking about
it.”

Poor Sleep Affects Women More: “Women suffer more damage to their
cardiovascular health from poor sleep than men do, and researchers at Duke University Medical Center believe they know why,” reports HealthDay News. “They found that poor sleep is associated with greater psychological distress and higher levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also found that these associations are stronger in women than in men.”

Ethnicity May Affect Sleep Patterns in Women: An estimated 25 percent of adults suffer from insomnia — women more so than men. A new study
conducted by researchers from the Brooklyn Center for Health Disparities Research at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and from Long Island University examined the effect of culture and ethnicity,
socioeconomic and health factors, and coping styles on sleep patterns among urban
American women.

Data from the study show that women of Eastern European ancestry had the highest rate of insomnia symptoms; 77 percent said they had difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep or had early morning awakenings. Among other white (European American) women surveyed, 70 percent expressed similar symptoms, as did African-American women (71 percent) and Dominicans (73 percent). However, only 34 percent of English-speaking Caribbean women and 33 percent of Haitians in the
study reported having insomnia symptoms.

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