medical news

Medical Monday: Weekly News Update in Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Did you know that some insurance companies offer rebate incentives to get indicated mammograms ? A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association called this “ an ethically disconcerting distraction”. What do you think ? I think advanced breast cancer is far more expensive than early cancer caught and cured. 

A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health has shown that less than half of new mothers returning to work have adequate space and time to pump. Meanwhile, in related news, the Army now requires commanders to allow breastfeeding soldiers to have time and space to pump. To clarify, many soldiers stay stateside or in non-hostile countries with family on bases and serve in technical or support positions. 

One article and two more separate recent studies indicate a higher infant mortality for non- hospital births than hospital births. ACOG estimates risk at two to threefold across the board. Remember there is also evidence demonstrating a 14 fold incidence of first Apgar of ZERO in those delivering their first baby at home. All this seems self evident to me given all my eyes have seen. 

The American College of Physicians has come out against routine pelvic exams in the the asymptomatic woman. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has made it clear it supports annual pelvic exams. Recall that pelvic exams need not always include a pap, since a pap is the collection of cells from the cervix to be evaluated in the lab. Pelvic exams confer a wealth of information about infection, pelvic relaxation, masses in the uterus, masses in the ovaries, etc. Ask any ob/gyn; They will tell you they find significant things on pelvic exams in asymptomatic women all the time. It looks like this needs to be formally studied. 

Uh oh, more bad news for Essure, those little coils placed in the tubes for sterilization. (Darn it, this seemed so promising. ) A new study in the British Medical Journal evaluated over 52,000 women sterilized with Essure. These women were 10 times more likely to go to surgery in the following year than those that were sterilized with a traditional tubal sterilization procedure. It is interesting to note that the FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) did NOT require documentation of Essure’s performance though a RCT ( randomized controlled trial). 

A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has shown 61% of women obtaining mammograms will have at least one false positive report. They are advocating that physicians do more to educate and reduce anxiety associated with these results. 

In the good news and empowerment department, a Norwegian Study reports that pregnant women who exercise regularly in the three months prior to pregnancy report less pelvic pain in pregnancy that their non exercising counterparts. And this is making me smile: High impact exercise was the most strongly associated with decreased pain. So, did these women go through life feeling less pain to begin with thus tolerate exercise and pregnancy better, or did the performance of the exercise change something about the way they perceive pain ? A study like this cannot answer these questions, but they are interesting to ask. 

Stay tunes for more news form the world of OB/GYN next week on Medical Monday. 

Medical Monday: Weekly news updates in Ob/Gyn

Did you know that not all breast cancer is the same? Breast cancer is of course cells from the breast which have become abnormal and behave in an unregulated destructive manner. We can study specific breast cancer cells to determine their particular nature, for example, whether or they have hormone receptors. When we study breast cancer cells for their particular traits what we are really trying to determine is what therapies would be the most effective against that particular breast cancer cell type.

Some tests we do on breast cancer cells are gene tests. A new gene test called Oncotype DX "accurately identifies a group of women whose cancers are so likely to respond to hormone blocking drugs that adding chemo would do little if any good while exposing them to side effects and other health risks”. This test allows certain patients identified by this gene test to skip chemotherapy, and have results which are basically just as good as the corresponding patients who did have to get chemotherapy.

You may have heard that there is increasing support for homebirth in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom of course has socialized medicine and a completely different medical care and medicolegal  infrastructure than the United States. For example, British homebirth midwives are highly trained graduate-level professionals who have trained with Obstetricians in hospitals. They use modern equipment, can prescribed medications, and are constrained to doing homebirth in very close proximity to hospitals with emergency capabilities. More importantly, they are very careful at patient selection. Finally, medical malpractice liability is handled through the National Health Service. 

None of this can be said for homebirth professionals in the United States where only a high school degree or GED is required along with an online test, care of home birth clinic patients and an observation of a small number of homebirths by a similarly trained person. These “direct entry” or “lay” midwives in the US are not required to carry liability insurance. 

For many reasons including all of this, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) maintains that the safest place to give birth is the hospital or a birthing center. It is interesting to note that because of medical privacy laws and reporting laws of the state, complications of homebirth are vastly under reported and understudied. Those of us who manage complications from unsuccessful home births are very concerned about these things.

Has anybody noticed that the brouhaha over Planned Parenthood has not prevented the government from continuing to function?

A meta-analysis study out of New Zealand  and published in the British medical Journal has once again raised the question of whether or not calcium supplements are useful for strengthening bones. Their study indicates that while supplemental calcium is indeed associated with increases of bone density up to 2%, they conclude this increase was not enough to meaningfully reduce a person's risk of fracture. It is worth noting that in this study they did not actually measure fracture occurrence in the groups over time.

A second study in the the same journal actually showed a slight reduction in people’s fracture risk with calcium supplementation but researchers concluded the change was not enough to make a statement about the effect. Of course the media reported both of these studies as saying that calcium did not strengthen bones. Oversimplify much ? 

In the conventional wisdom department, new research suggests that women who"begin hormone therapy toward the beginning of menopause may have a lower risk of developing heart disease”. Apparently women who start hormone replacement therapy within five years at menopause stayed free heart disease for a longer time than non-users.".

This is exactly what we thought would take place before we studied the matter in the large very important Women's Health Initiative study, which released in 2002. The Women's Health Initiative study or WHI, demonstrated that those on combined estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy actually had slightly increasing cumulative risk of adverse cardiovascular events after menopause. This was not what researchers expected. Conventional wisdom had always been the hormones like estrogen protected against cardiovascular disease, accounting for the commonly observed phenomenon of that premenopausal women rarely had heart attacks, compared to men or postmenopausal women. Unfortunately the Women's Health Initiative was a bit of a lumper, (as opposed to a splitter) in that it evaluated postmenopausal women of all ages all at once. Moreover, the average age of the test subjects was 63. Thus these women for far more than five years after the average age of menopause which is 51. These women would be likely to have already developed pre-existing cardiovascular disease, in the years after the onset of menopause but before the onset of their research protocol hormone replacement therapy.

Many researchers have speculated that there is something disadvantageous about starting hormone replacement therapy once the patient is long into menopause. Conversely clinicians everywhere have noticed positive effects on health and well-being in those who are able to take hormone replacement from the beginning of menopause and into old age. It will be interesting to see if evidence based quantitative science catches up with or remotely matches the conventional wisdom on the streets.

The Federation Internationale of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) is stepping up its research on the relationship between toxic environmental chemicals like BPA and problems like miscarriage and cancer.

Finally, in the good news department,  the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) “recommends pregnant women without obstetrical or medical complications exercise at least 30 minutes a day most if not all days a week, just like the rest of the population.” 

Stay tuned for more fascinating news from the world of obstetrics and gynecology next week on Medical Monday. 




Medical Monday: Weekly News Update in Obstetrics and Gynecology 

The Republican dominated House voted to defund Planned Parenthood last Friday the 19th. About a week later, the Senate rejected the same bill by a vote of 52 to 47. It turns out defunding Planned Parenthood would have allowed lawmakers to come in on budget and avoid a government shutdown on October1st. Both sides of the aisle are woking on plans to keep the government going after October 1st. I will say this: that meeting budget and funding Planned Parenthood are really two separate issues and should be treated as such. It is not as though Planned Parenthood is the ONLY straw that could have broken this camel’s back. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public hearing this week about the relatively new method of sterilization called Essure. This procedure involves the insertion of small coils into the inner aspect of the the Fallopian tubes as they open into the uterine cavity. Is is an office procedure without incisions, which is its appeal. However there are now 5k plus reports of complications associated with the device and more pregnancies than were intially advertised. A panel of experts criticized both the maker, Bayer Health Care Pharmaceuticals, and the FDA, in the handling of device’s testing.  A long running social media campaign has influenced the convening of this hearing. 

Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs ( intrauterine devices) have been found to be 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy that all other contraceptive methods. In more good news, almost everyone, even childless women and women with medical conditions, are eligible to use them. Their use is up in the last few years from 1.3% to 7.2 %. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that they be first-line contraceptives for sexually active teens.

Most women know there is a vaccine available to prevent cervical dysplasia and cancer. But now a clinical trial from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has shown effectiveness in a new genetically engineered vaccine to ERADICATE existing high grade precancerous cervical lesions in half of the test subjects. Wow, fantastic ! 

Stay tuned for more news from the wild world of Ob/Gyn in next’s week Medical Monday. 

Medical Monday: Weekly News Update in  Obstetrics and Gynecology

It's a mixed week in OB/GYN news, as always.

A Swedish study indicates that women who are overweight or obese at the time of the first pregnancy are more likely to develop diabetes in the next decade or two of their life. The risk of increase is six times baseline.

The eighth circuit court of appeal in St. Louis Missouri has taken the position that forcing employers to cover the cost of contraception through their insurance “ violates the groups religious freedoms".

In other news in the war on contraception, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that cutting off funds from Planned Parenthood for one year could "reduce healthcare access for about 390,000 people" and at least through the Planned Parenthood budget with sales tax payers about $235 million. They hasten to indicate that defunding the organization could result in"several thousand unplanned births that would drive up government costs elsewhere such as in the Medicaid budget which pays for 45% of all births in this country.

The Census Bureau reports that the percentage of people without health insurance dropped in 2014 to 10.4 % down from 13.3 % the year before.

In the department of general women's health the following finding is rather striking. When comparing the cost of institutional care for male Alzheimer's patients versus women's Alzheimer's patients the following is noted. The cost of caring for women with Alzheimer's is six times greater then for a man with the same diagnosis. This is because when man has Alzheimer’s, female family members put much more time and energy into their care, saving them from expensive institutionalization. The reverse is not true when male family members take care of women with Alzheimer’s.

In other gender gap news, the Journal of the American medical Association reports that the gender gap in academic medicine is alive and well. Despite the fact that half of all medical school graduates are and have been women for sometime, Men are 15 percent more likely to have the rank of full professor. It also shows that women generally do produce less reach her research than men, But that this may be due to lack of mentorship, institutional support, and most importantly research funding through research grants. According to the same study, men received over twice as much research funding from their employers for equipment and labs. Women researchers are also less likely to receive NIH grants than there male colleagues.

For some good news this week we will have to turn to the field of vaccines. The CDC or Centers for Disease Control found that about 90% of children under the age of three were vaccinated against the common disease entities in the years between 1994 and 2013. What did this do for us? The CDC estimates that this will have prevented 732,000 early deaths in United States alone.

Finally, also in the good news department, the flu vaccine may be more effective this year according to the CDC or Centers for Disease Control. It is estimated that it will be nearly 3 times as effective as last year’s preparation. Remember that even if the vaccine doesn't prevent flu entirely, it will decrease the severity of flu which is very important in children and other vulnerable populations.

Stay tuned for more news from the world of OB/GYN next week in Medical Monday.


Medical Monday : Ob/Gyn News Weekly

News about Ob/Gyn topics has GOT to be important to all women. I like to read this stuff since it makes a difference in people's lives. So with a more recognizable title, I will continue to report on it. 

A paper in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has properly substantiated what Obs have always observed: that women who suffer from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy like preeclampsia are prone to high blood pressure later in life. Newsflash: so are their siblings, including brothers. 

Apparently prevalence studies of the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 in breast cancer patients were done predominantly in white populations. Taking a preliminary look at 400 black breast cancer patients, a Florida study shows 12 % of them carry one of these genes. In a similar population of white breast cancer patients, the rate is only 5 %. This has implications for screening and prevention. 

New help for older women with osteoporosis (bone thinning) may come from Human Growth Hormone. It's helpful effects seem to be particularly long lasting. 

The CDC reports we have achieved a 90% vaccination rate on polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella (chicken pox virus). I realize this is better than it was, but, this doesn't sound too great where herd immunity is concerned. 

The CDC ( Center for Disease Control) reports that since 2012, school lunches are measurably healthier, with metrics being more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and salads. Thanks to all those lunch ladies and gentlemen as well as FLOTUS Michelle Obama. 

And in other good news, the great State of Texas has passed a strong "right to breastfeed" law. Public employers must give breastfeeding mothers time and space to pump during workdays. The law also prevents discrimination or firing related to breastfeeding at work. 

Stay tuned for more news from the world of OB/Gyn next week on Medical Mondays. 

Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

Headlines proclaim “ Aggressive Treatment for DCIS May Not Save Lives”.This sounds rather dismal. Reading further, what they should have said is “ Aggressive Treatment for DCIS May Not Be Necessary to Save Lives”, which is good news. DCIS is very early microscopic breast cancer, and as such its concerns everyone. Such an alarming headline got my attention. But once I found out the news was actually good, I was a little dismayed.  There must be a chapter in the Journalism textbook where it says bad news gets more attention than good. I don’t know. Read carefully out there ! 

Just to refresh your memory, ACOG stands for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They send its Fellows, myself included, news updates throughout week. These are articles of pertinence to women’s health. Each Monday, I pick a small sample and present them to you for your consideration. More such articles can be found at 

There is such a thing as “ distracted snacking”. The Journal of Health Psychology reported the results of a small study which indicate that distracted snacking results in greater intake even afterwards. I speculate that it has to do with the fact that distracted snacking results in greater intake that say “ mindful snacking “ ( my term)  causing insulin levels to spike more than they would have, and more hunger to be stimulated later. So be mindful about your snacking and remember to always include some protein. 

The venerable diaphragm has gotten an upgrade. A Seattle based nonprofit has developed a new more contoured model. It’s name is Caya. Go to to learn more. It is not yet available. 

Finally, ACOG has released new guidelines regarding the treatment of morning sickness. First line therapy should be in the form of the class A combination of doxylamine and vitamin B6, commercially available over the counter without a prescription in the US as Diclegis. ( Class A is the safest pregnancy category for a drug. ) This is not to say that we are not still going to need Zofran for certain patients. It will still be considered after Diclegis is deemed insufficient. 

When you read medical related articles in the mainstream press, read very carefully. It is tricky to report accurately if you do not have medical background. For more on that please see our section “ Your internet learning toolbox”. 

Stay tuned for more medical news next week on Medical Monday. 





Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

What's an Ob/Gyn site without a little OB/Gyn news ? I like reading the Ob/Gyn News and I like translating science information into clear non medical language. So I'm going to give Medical Monday's another go. 

A large Finnish study has show that those who have depression and who are treated for it in pregnancy have lower rates of preterm labor than those who have it and are not treated for it. 

Most everyone has heard of BRCA1 and BRCA2, the genes conferring increased of breast cancer. Unfortunately there are many more gene mutations which are associated with the development of breast cancer. Fortunately, testing for 20 more of these genes may soon become available for select patients with strong family histories of breast cancer. 

Fully one quarter of American women 65 and older have osteoporosis. Thank our marginal diet, heredity, Big Soda, Big Tobacco, alcohol and our sedentary lifestyle. 

One third of ovary cancer patients are living in excess of 10 years. This is a substantial improvement over the last several decades. 

Finally, stats are in through 2013 and infant mortality in the US has dropped to a record low. Wow, finally ! I'm going to try to end on a good note, so with that, stay tuned until next week. 

Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

This is the second in a series of reports on current events and research reports in Obstetrics and Gynecology. We hope you like the new format for Medical Mondays and invite you to comment. 

A recent study showed that about 50% of women gain more weight than they should in pregnancy. This has serious effects on the health of the newborn as well as the mother. Institute of Medicine guidelines indicate weight should be about 30 pounds if pre-pregnancy weight is average, less if the patient is obese, and more if the patient is underweight. 

Maternal mortality in the US is on the rise, sitting at 18.5 per 100,00 births. This is against the trend of most developing countries. The conditions most likely to cause maternal death are hemorrhage, severe hypertension and preeclampsia, and venous thromboembolism ( abnormal clotting). 

There is an effort to make birth control pills available over the counter, without a prescription. This is already the case in Oregon and California. The interesting thing is that this is a bipartisan effort. These efforts come in the wake of the accomplishment making birth control "no- cost" under the Affordable Care Act. 

Speaking of the Affordable Care Act, it is currently not true that patients can see whoever they want. A recent analysis indicates patients insured through the ACA chose from one third fewer doctors and hospitals than patients insured otherwise. 

Plans were confirmed by the House last week to approve the creation of a commemorative gold coin and to donate the proceeds to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The Susan G. Komen foundation was originally to have also been a beneficiary, but GOP members required they be removed to due their "funding" of Planned Parenthood. It turns out Komen does not fund Planned Parenthood. 

Ob/gyns the world over disapprove of douching since it disrupts normal vaginal flora. However now it appears that common commercially available douches contain a chemical known to be an endocrine disruptor, diethyl phthalate. 

For this and more medical news from the world of Ob/Gyn, tune in every monday for Medical Mondays. 


Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

Today I'm going to do Medical Monday like a good old fashioned news cast. I am going to take the weekly news items of most importance to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and summarize them for you. What's  important to ACOG is important to us. Let me know if you like this format. 


( newscaster voice here... ) 

Medicare, which is for those over 65 or who are officially disabled, "will now pay for women to get a joint Pap smear and Human papilloma virus test every 5 years to screen for cervical cancer. " Never mind that ACOG and The American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) state they should be done this way every 3 years. 

A Yale study found that the cost of a delivery varies from $1200 to $12,000 depending on the hospital. Unpacking this revealed that birth was costlier at poorer facilites that served higher percentages of Medicaid moms. They also found higher complication rates in those same higher cost hospitals. CBS news reported on this, and opined that this contradicts the notion that more spending leads to better outcomes. Never mind that poorer patients have been less well served in their lives, are unhealthier and have higher risk pregnancies on average. Maybe the complications come before the high cost but what do I know. 

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology published the obvious in saying that women who smoked and had preterm deliveries went on to have higher risk of heart disease. Had they not yet heard that smoking is associated independently with both preterm birth and with heart disease ? 

Of importance, the FDA nows states that use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen and Aleve are associated with increased risks of heart attack and stroke. Discuss this with your doctor and buy stock in Tylenol's parent company. 

The Salt Lake Tribune, right in the heart of the conservative Mormon heartland, featured an editorial, which among other things, advised that the best way to reduce abortions was to provide contraceptive choice ! Well done Salt Lake. 

Stay tuned until next week.