Weekly Health News Round-Up: October 25, 2013


In the news recently – Breast Cancer Awareness Month, youth and herpes immunity, a possible vaccine for those who already have the condition, and a new contraceptive method on the horizon.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Image from mammogram reminder e-card from healthfinder.govThis October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 1 out of every 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point during her life. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women. While breast cancer is more common in women over age 40, younger women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers should also talk to their doctors. And men are not immune; over 2,000 are diagnosed each year.

The good news is that breast cancer is very survivable, especially if it’s found and treated early.  Here are some tips from healthfinder.gov:

  • Your risk increases if a close family member has had breast or ovarian cancer.
  • If you are age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about mammography.
  • Women ages 50 to 74 need mammograms every 2 years.
  • If you are male, click here to learn more about breast cancer in men from the NIH National Cancer Institute.

Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms. Here are a list of questions to guide that discussion.  Never had a mammogram? Nervous?  Click here for a short video about what to expect.  Want to share this information with a friend or family member?  Send an e-card to show you care.

Can eating peanut butter in adolescence reduce breast disease risk as an adult?

On the prevention front, a new study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that eating peanut butter regularly during the preteen and teen years appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult.  Click here to read more.

Growing Number of Youth Lack Herpes Simplex 1 Antibodies

holding handsAccording to a new CDC study, many U.S. teens may be more likely to get genital herpes because they didn’t get cold sores as kids.  Published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and available online, the findings show that fewer of today’s teens have been exposed in their childhood to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a common cause of cold sores, than U.S. adolescents in previous years. Without these antibodies, today’s teens may be more susceptible – when they become sexually active – to genital infections also caused by the virus, particularly through oral sex. To learn more about herpes, check out TeenSource.org, as well as the San Francisco DPH City Clinic website.

Herpes Vaccines on the Horizon?

herpes virusAccording to the CDC, approximately 1 in 6 U.S. adults between the ages of 14 and 49 has been infected by Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2), usually associated with genital infections.  A much larger number of people are estimated to be infected by Herpes Simplex Virus 1, which can result in oral or genital outbreaks. While not usually a life-threatening disease, research shows that people with herpes are two to three times more likely to acquire HIV, and that herpes can also make HIV-infected individuals more likely to transmit HIV to others.

vaccinations by injectionHowever, two vaccines currently under investigation may help to slow the herpes epidemic.  According to a report presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 12, 2013, a new vaccine may reduce transmission of the virus by reducing “viral shedding” via the skin among those who already have HSV-2.  A study published in New England Journal of Medicine in January 2012, found that another vaccine was partially effective at preventing the genital transmission of HSV-1 among women.  While it had no effect on HSV-2 transmission, those women who received the investigational vaccine had fewer than half (58%) the cases of genital herpes caused by HSV-1 compared with women who received the control vaccine.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Phase 3 Trial of 1-Year Contraceptive Vaginal Ring Shows Positive Results

Nestorone 1-year contraceptive vaginal ringThe Population Council announced at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine that its 1-year vaginal ring is as safe and effective as other birth control methods that contain both estrogen and progesterone.  The Stage 3 trial involved more than 1,100 healthy, normally ovulating women across 12 study sites in Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Women who participated in the study were highly satisfied with the ring, found it easy to use, and indicated that they would recommend it to other women. The ring was also well-accepted by their partners.

According to Ruth Merkatz, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Development for the Population Council’s Reproductive Health Program, “If approved by regulatory authorities, the ring will offer a unique contraceptive option: a contraceptive that is effective for one full year, is under the woman’s control, and does not require insertion by a health care professional.”  To learn more, go to http://www.popcouncil.org/projects/115_OneYearCombVagRing.asp

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