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How The VA Can Help Our Female Veterans

Women are the fastest growing segment in the US military, already accounting for approximately 14 percent of deployed forces. According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 20 percent of new recruits and 17 percent of Reserve and National Guard Forces are women. As the number of women continues to grow in the military, so does the need for health care specifically targeted to their unique concerns.

Historically, lower rates of female veterans have used the VA system. “Research has shown that women didn’t define themselves as veterans in the past, and this is changing,” said Antonette Zeiss, PhD, a clinical psychologist and Acting Chief for Mental Health Services at the VA Central Office in Washington, DC.

Now, “Women are among the fastest growing segments of new VA users with as many as 44 percent of women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan electing to use the VA compared to 11 percent in prior eras,” said Sally Haskell, MD, Acting Director of Comprehensive Women’s Health, at the VA Central Office.

This change is due in large part to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)*

Domestic Violence Has Become One Of The Top Public Health Issues Facing US Women

Domestic violence knows no boundaries: cultural, socio-economic, religious, level of education, gender or age. It can occur in any relationship and to anyone, but especially to women. In fact, roughly 25 percent of women will become a victim at one time or another during her lifetime.

Abuse is defined as any act used to gain power and control over another person, which can take on many forms. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, coercion, threats, isolation and/or intimidation.

Domestic violence is abuse that occurs within interpersonal relationships and has become one of the top public health issues facing women in the United States. It is a leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 14 and 44 in this country.

There are risk factors that may increase the likelihood that a person becomes a victim to domestic violence. These can include: history of violence or abuse in a past relationship, physical or mental disability, unemployment, poor living situation, substance abuse, unplanned pregnancy, recently separated or divorced, social isolation and witnessed abuse as a child. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)*

Molecular Condoms And Controlling The Spread Of HIV/AIDS In Women

National Women and Girls AIDS Awareness Day, a nationwide observance that raises awareness and promotes action in the fight against HIV/AIDS, took place on March 10. As the nation turns its attention to this important cause, women and girls around the world continue to be affected by HIV/AIDS in high numbers. According to reports from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age across the globe.

HIV is a virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, a disease that diminishes the body’s ability to fight off infection. Unprotected intercourse is the primary way HIV is spread, but it can also be shared through IV drug use, blood transfusion or from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Despite the fact that HIV/AIDS-related deaths are significantly lower in the United States when compared with other regions of the world, the disease remains a serious public health issue. According to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, roughly 280,000 women are affected by AIDS in the United States today. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)*

Gender Differences In Exercise

Obesity levels are at an all-time high among men, women, and children in the United States. The need for good nutrition and regular exercise is paramount for maintaining proper health and for keeping those extra pounds at bay, especially for women.

Beginning in her late 20s and 30s, a woman’s average body weight climbs steadily each year. This increase usually continues into her 60s. For many women, the weight gain is between one to two pounds per year with some women gaining more, and others less.

Aside from weight loss, women who incorporate regular exercise into their daily schedules may lower the risks of certain diseases and conditions. A recent study presented at the Ninth Annual AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference revealed that women who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week significantly reduced their risk of endometrial cancer, regardless of their body size.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that in order to prevent weight gain, an average woman who eats a normal diet needs 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day. If a woman is overweight or obese, 60 minutes of exercise is inadequate to keep off the weight, according to the study. In many cases she will have to modify her diet, including cutting down on overall daily caloric intake.

For older women, a dose of regular moderate exercise may slow the progression of age-related memory loss. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that exercise may even reverse changes in the brain due to the aging process. Other recent studies prove a positive correlation between exercise and a lower risk of colon cancer. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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