U.S. Study Links Breast Cancer to Alcohol: We first covered
the potential link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer in October. Now, another study has linked alcohol to an increased risk for the most common type of breast
cancer in postmenopausal women, reports Reuters.

“Regardless of the type of alcohol, the risk was evident,” said
Jasmine Lew, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute and the
study’s lead investigator. The findings were presented Sunday at a
meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

About 70 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast
cancer have tumors that are positive for both the estrogen and
progesterone receptors.

Lew said results from the NCI study lend credence to the theory that
alcohol’s interference with the metabolism of estrogen raises the risk
of cancer. She said it was too early to make public health
recommendations but said women should talk with their doctors to assess
risk factors and consider lifestyle changes.

Co-Payments for Some Drugs Soar: “Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases,” reports The New York Times.

Some of the diseases for which price increases have been instituted affect many more women than men. Gina Kolata writes:

With the new pricing system, insurers abandoned the traditional arrangement that has patients pay a fixed amount, like $10, $20 or $30 for a prescription, no matter what the drug’s actual cost. Instead, they are charging patients a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, usually 20 to 33 percent, which can amount to thousands of dollars a month.

The system means that the burden of expensive health care can now affect insured people, too. No one knows how many patients are affected, but hundreds of drugs are priced this new way. They are used to treat diseases that may be fairly common, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, hepatitis C and some cancers. There are no cheaper equivalents for these drugs, so patients are forced to pay the price or do without.

The Power of 50: As Madonna faces 50, Sally Brampton explains in the Times Online (UK) why she should celebrate what are officially the best years of a woman’s life:

Once you’ve got over the inevitable mourning for lost youth, there’s something magnificent about opting out of the race, which is not the same as opting out of life. Life gets better as the neuroses of youth fade, as you stop really caring what anybody else thinks, as wisdom and compassion finally kick in. As regards what’s sexy — being happily naked in your own skin is sexy, smiling is sexy, confidence is truly sexy — think Annie Lennox, Jerry Hall, Helen Mirren. Sex, free of self-consciousness, is better.

Coming Of Age Stories for Women of a Certain Age: As baby boomers age and their market power grows, more books for and about them are appearing,” writes Julie Onufrak of Columbia News services. “Boomer women want to read romantic stories about older women who are finding love — and sex — later in life. And boomer authors seem willing to oblige by writing what they know.” Here’s an example:

“When I read a contemporary romance, I always think, ‘Who’s doing the laundry?'” said Connie Brockway, who describes her novel Skinny Dipping, which is published by Penguin imprint Onyx, as a coming-of-age story for a woman in her 40s. In hen lit, romance cannot be the No. 1 character, she said.

“You’ve got friends and family and work and obligations,” she says. “There are so many more things involved in life than just romance.”

We can relate. But just as we are no fans of the term “chick lit,” this growing genre needs a better name than “hen lit.”

The Sum of Her Parts: The Gazette (Canada) talks with Susan Sarandon, 61, about her career, including her new film, “Emotional Arithmetic,” her political activism, her family — and how she keeps her life in balance. The story pulls up some of her finest films and best quotes.

“I didn’t realize everything was supposed to fall apart at 40. So I just slid by 40 and 50. When you’re an outsider and not paying attention to the rules the hurdles are a little lower,” said Sarandon.

When Words Get Old: From University of Southern California comes this research on language:

The wrong language ­ denigrating older workers, even if only subtly­ can have an outsized negative impact on employee productivity and corporate profits, says Bob McCann, an associate professor of management communication at the USC Marshall School of Business.

While demographic trends point to a more age-diverse workforce, said McCann, ageist language is still to be found in many workplaces, and can have severe repercussions for both older workers and their employers.

“Our research has clearly shown links between ageist language and reported health outcomes as broad as reduced life satisfaction, lowered self-esteem, and even depression,” said McCann.

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