Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Activism: Healthcare and Safety Edition

In this edition, I'm bringing to light some hidden issues that aren't really being covered by the mainstream media as much as I think they should (an article on the Twilight book phenomenon is on the main page of CNN, for real).

First up is "The Loss of the Yearly Pap Smear", an article about new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines recommending less frequent Pap smears for women. I am all for less medical intervention, but I see this as an unwise decision. I mean, with a 10-30% false negative rate for Pap smears as it is, wouldn't it be smart for us to increase rather than decrease the recommended frequency of these tests, if any change at all? I really worry that this will lead to an increase in undiagnosed cervical cancer rates. Perhaps the most troubling thing of all was one of the reasons the policy is being changed for younger women:

"earlier onset of screening may lead to increased anxiety and the emotional impact of labeling an adolescent with both a sexually transmitted infection … because adolescence is a time of heightened concern for self-esteem and emerging sexuality."

Yeah, because the best reason to discontinue testing that may help diagnose STIs and cervical cancer is because someone might be embarrassed to be diagnosed. I mean, there's a lot of reasons I go see a doctor, and most of them are embarrassing. If we start making medical recommendations based on embarrassment: men should never get their prostates checked, forget asking about that possible fungal infection, teens shouldn't get acne checked, and hell, I'll just skip the yearly date with the gynecologist all together! The sad part is, many women will skip the yearly visit to the doc-that-dare-not-speak-its-name because they aren't having a Pap smear and wonder what the point in going at all will be.

Come on, ACOG, get your act together. Then again, these are the same people who are now telling us not to worry about breast cancer until we hit 50 either-and NOT to do breast self exams. (Ok, maybe not the same people, but don't all those medical agencies run together?) As for me, I'll still be self-checking my breasts, and I hope everyone will do the same.

Next is the petition from CREDO action asking the FDA to ban the use of Bisophenol-A (BPA) in food packaging. If you have any question about whether we should tread lightly with the use of this chemical with as-of-yet unknown long term risks, check out the findings from the Environmental Working Group. I mean, with so many studies pointing to possible if not probable risks to humans, (and definitely the environment), why is BPA still found in infant formula, plastic baby bottles, and canned products? Do your kid a favor and use glass bottles, BPA-free bottles, or exclusively breastfeed.

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