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Celebrate Women’s History Month by remembering these women

Women’s History Month is an important time of reflection and celebration for all Americans. We recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of women throughout history, and we celebrate the power of their vital contributions to science, medicine and women’s empowerment. Here are a just a few of the many accomplishments done by women in the last century and a half.  Many of them were true pioneers in women’s health!

1835, Harriot Kezie Hunt opens her own medical practice focusing on women and children.  Because she is female, she is barred from hospitals and lectures at Harvard.

Breastfeeding and caffeine

Babies are not able to metabolize or excrete caffeine very well, so a breastfeeding mother’s consumption of caffeine may lead to caffeine accumulation and symptoms such as wakefulness and irritability, according to an interview with expert Ruth Lawrence, MD, published in Journal of Caffeine Research.  The interview is available on the Journal of Caffeine Research website.

High heels and foot problems

 High heel shoes can cause a number of foot problems, yet most women aren’t willing to give their shoes the boot, according to podiatrists at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). Ingrown toenails are among the most common problems that result from high heels. This condition, also known as onychocryptosis, occurs when the toes compress together making the big toenails grow into the skin.

Menopause Society Supports Extended Hormone Therapy

Menopausal hormone therapy doesn’t have to follow “the lowest dose for the shortest time” strategy for all women anymore, the North American Menopause Society said today.   The group endorsed a flexible approach to duration that takes into account the type and timing of therapy and individual patient characteristics in a statement in its journal, Menopause.

For women in their 50s, the absolute risks are low; younger women without a history of breast cancer can use replacement hormones at least until the normal menopause age around 51, and longer if needed for symptom management, according to the guidelines.

Blunt Amendment rejected by US Senate

BULLETIN:   Our previous blog discussed this amendment.   We’re delighted to report that Senate has voted 51-48 against an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow insurers to deny coverage of health services — such as birth control — if an employer objected on religious or moral grounds.

Women’s rights debated today!

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that over 20 million American women in private health insurance plans have already gained access to at least one free preventive service because of the health care law.  Without financial barriers like co-pays and deductibles, women are better able to access potentially life-saving services, and cancers are caught earlier, chronic diseases are managed and hospitalizations are prevented.

Why is sex-based research so important?

Research has shown that sex (male vs female) as a variable contributes to differences in the safety and efficacy of drugs, biologics, and devices.   Biologics include vaccines and plasma.   Devices can range from drug eluting stents and pacemakers to implants and contact lenses.

Grapefruit juice and medication

Grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruit can interfere with the action of some prescription drugs, as well as a few non-prescription drugs.   Grapefruit juice can also be part of a healthful diet.   It has vitamin C and potassium—substances your body needs to work properly.   But it isn’t good for you when it affects the way your medicines work.

Cost of Contraception

As predicted, the debate about access to contraception in the U.S.  has entered the political process with the counter attack focusing on freedom of religion.  This blog will look at another side of the issue:   cost.   The cost of contraception is estimated to be between $600 and $1000 per year based on the choice of contraceptive method.   According to a report issue by the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services, “evidence from well-documented prior expansions of contraceptive coverage indicates that the cost to issurers of including coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive meth

Heartburn medications can increase risk for hip fractures in postmenopausal women

Older, postmenopausal women who take popular medications to control indigestion and heartburn called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)  may put themselves at higher risk for hip fractures according to new research by Dr. Hamed Khalili, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  Long-term use of these drugs may increase that risk by 35 percent and even higher (to 50 percent) in smokers.    Some examples of these medications are shown here.