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Greetings! I’m so happy to be back after a too-long hiatus from Dish. I won’t gush too much (for now), because information on a very important research study just crossed my desk, and I don’t want you to miss a single bit! First, a brief background, then we’ll dig in…

Another Win for Women’s Health- FEM-V

About 75% of women suffer from at least one vaginal yeast infection during their lifetime. It’s important to know the symptoms before attempting self-treatment; however, the most obvious symptoms—abnormal discharge, itching, burning—could also indicate a more serious condition. Fem-V, a new product now available in select drug stores, aims to help women determine whether their symptoms do, in fact, come from a yeast infection. If so, they can be self-treated with over-the counter medication; otherwise, they may signal other forms of infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis (Trich) or a combination infection that requires a prescription.

Fem-V looks and acts like a pantiliner, but it comes with an imbedded indicator strip that evaluates both pH and dilution of vaginal discharge to properly diagnose the cause of a vaginal infection. You wear it until a vaginal discharge appears, put the indicator strip in a drying tray for 10 minutes, then, if a blue-green color appears, get thee to a doctor. If not, you’re okay to treat symptoms with an OTC yeast or anti-fungal treatment.

For more information on Fem-V, including a $2 rebate offer, a list of retailers, or to order online, visit

Mammosite-5-Day Cancer Treatment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and in recognition of this important time, I’d like to pass on a few reminders as well as share a bit of good news. Taking steps to lower your risk of breast cancer is a bit easier to handle than treating it, so please: make sure to give yourself a breast self-exam monthly, and a mammogram annually if you’re over age 40. All this healthy diet and exercise stuff mentioned earlier in this column will help, too. Don’t smoke. Don’t overindulge in alcohol…you know the drill. If, however, you do find yourself diagnosed—and I hope to God you don’t—there are new technological advancements that can make the treatment process overall a little less daunting.

An alternative form of radiation therapy utilizing MammoSite, a balloon catheter that delivers radiation internally only to the area surrounding the original tumor, allowing treatment to be completed in five days and minimizing radiation exposure to the rest of the breast, skin, ribs, lungs and heart. The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) recently expanded the selection criteria for breast cancer patients who are eligible to receive this type of accelerated partial breast irradiation to include younger women, age 45 and older, and those with larger tumor sizes, up to 3 cm. Radiation following a lumpectomy is critical to reducing the incidence of recurrence, but the time normally required for whole breast radiation (typically six to seven weeks) and distance from a radiation center prevents many women from completing radiation.

To show your support for greater access to care and to finding a cure for breast cancer, consider signing up for one of the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer taking place in various cities throughout the year. Visit for more info.

Indigo for Women’s Health Initiative-Prevent HPV Virus!

In June 2006, the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend that the vaccine Gardasil® be approved. Gardasil® is designed to protect young women not yet sexually active as well as those who are against the human papilloma virus (HPV). Gardasil is the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts due to HPV, and it represents an important milestone for women’s health.

Now, another medical breakthrough in treating HPV is on the horizon. A medical research study, part of the Indigo for Women’s Health Initiative, is underway to determine if an investigational study gel is a safe and effective treatment for women with high-risk HPV virus.

Not everyone carrying the HPV virus falls into the high-risk category, but the HPV virus itself is common. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired a genital HPV infection. Certain types of the virus can lead to cervical cancer, but that’s highly preventable with annual Pap tests. In other words, DO NOT skip your exam! And if your OBGyn asks you to come back for a colposcopy (where a doctor looks at your cervix through a specialized microscope to identify and diagnose any abnormal cells), don’t hesitate in making the appointment!

The 27-month clinical research study is taking place in Nashville as well as 71 other cities across the U.S. and Canada. Women age 18 to 40 who have received an abnormal Pap result or diagnosis of cervical high-risk HPV are invited to see if they may qualify to participate. Up to 16 office visits are required of participants. If qualified, participants will receive study gel, study-related medical exams, and lab tests at no charge. Compensation for time and travel may also be available. For more information on the research study and how to participate, visit

Drinks on a Lighter Note

Through my regular visits to Rainbow Grocery, one of my favorite natural foods stores in San Francisco, I’ve discovered a handful of new drinks that offer many health benefits, but with a taste that’s, well, not for everyone. My liquid adventures have led me to Prince Neville’s Jamaican Ginger Beer, a potent concoction of ginger and lemon juice; a product called “Lemon Cleanse” by Way to Life, which is an eye-opening mix of lemon and cayenne pepper; and GT’s Raw Organic Kombucha, a drink that looks like tea (with more sediment at the bottom) but tastes alternately tangy, sweet and slightly carbonated.

Kombucha is actually a living culture of beneficial microorganisms derived from the Kombucha mushroom and blended with sweet tea to create a purported life-lengthening “elixir.” Because of the fermentation process, the drink contains active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants, and polyphenols, collectively beneficial for healthy digestive and immune systems and balancing pH levels in the body, among other perks. Fanatics claim everything from halting the progression of cancer to opening up the “third eye” chakra, and a good number of folks have started brewing it themselves.

Adventurous souls interested in a low calorie (30 per 8 oz. serving), low sugar alternative to fruit juice or sweetened tea should give this raw food—or some other mutually weird tasting drink—a try.

A Little Weight, a Lotta Problems

Those extra 10 to 15 pounds that seem to hang to our middles for dear life will apparently do more damage than we once thought. Turns out you don’t have to be obese—only a little overweight—to increase your risk of premature death, according to one government study.

A10-year study of more than 500,000 slightly overweight U.S. adults in their 50’s were found to be 20 to 40 percent more likely to die in the next decade. A similar study of more than one million Korean adults published in the New England Journal of American Medicine produced similar results.

What’s the difference between overweight and obese? A few mere points on the BMI scale. A Body Mass Index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; above that is deemed obese. Another way to check is to measure your waist circumference. If waist measurements top 40 inches for men, 35 for women, you’re at risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and all sorts of nasty ills. If any of these numbers apply to you, it may be time to shake off that clingy 15 for good, and potentially enjoy a longer, healthier life as a reward.

Say Sayonara To Soda

Speaking of extra pounds, it’s common knowledge these days that regularly drinking sugar-laden soft drinks is an excellent way to expand our waistlines. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the growing obesity trend over the last four decades falls right in step with America’s increase in soda consumption. Add to that an overall decline in regular exercise, especially in children, and the problem becomes more disturbing. An extra can of soda a day—equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar—can lead to a 15 pound weight gain in one year. For yourself and your children, stick to the real “real thing”—pure, life-giving, calorie-free H2O. Want bubbles? Dirnk mineral water. Flavor? Dress it up with a lemon, lime or orange wedge. Run from diet drinks sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener that’s been linked to migraines, seizures, vision loss, and even Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, and can be as addictive as sugar itself. Your body will thank you!

Amazing Nike/iPod Hybrid Helps You Meet Weight and Fitness Goals

Running will certainly help one meet their weight loss and fitness goals, and now Nike has a shoe that will tell you exactly how you’re progressing in those departments. The Nike/iPod hybrid allows you to listen to your favorite music on the run while your pace, distance, and calories burned appear on the iPod display and in your ear via a male or female voice. To enjoy this perk, you’ll need a pair of Nike+ shoes ($85 to $110), a small poker-chip sized receiver for the shoe called a Nike + iPod Sport Kit ($29), and an iPod Nano ($150 and up). Nike and Apple compare the device to having your “own personal trainer.” As someone who doesn’t even run with headphones, this is not the gadget for me. But for the casual runner who wants the latest fashion and technology for their workout, this could be all the motivation you need.

*Select content courtesy of “Natural Health”

If you have health information important to women, please send it to Heather at heather / Issue 60 - September 9769
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