Below is my list of the top ten women’s health scares of the decade. It is not meant to constitute or replace medical advice.
1. Swine Flu. Swine flu came to public attention in America in April of 2009 and became the largest health scare of the year.
2. Bisphenol A (BPA). In 2009 the Endocrine Society released a scientific statement expressing concern over current human exposure to BPA. This chemical, found in household plastics, has been under scrutiny for years.
3. Transfats. In 2006 New York City became the first city to ban trans-fats from restaurants. The main problem with transfats is that they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Most transfats have been removed from food products.
4. Bird Flu. Avian influenza was a concern at the beginning of the decade as it devastated chicken populations in Southeast Asia and concern arose about its spread to people.
5. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). This respiratory infection was first reported in Asia and spread to North America, South America and Europe before it was contained. According to WHO, 8,096 people were infected worldwide and 774 people died before the virus receded in 2003.
6. Toxic Lipstick. In 2007, an environmentalist group published a report that stated that one-third of more than 30 lipsticks tested had a lead content that exceeded the FDA standard for candy (there is no lipstick standard, so they used candy instead.) The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of women’s, public health, labor, environmental health and consumer rights groups, stated that there is no evidence that the small amount of lead in lipstick pose any threat to human health.
7. Mercury levels in fish. In 2007, the New York City Department of Health released findings from its Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Of the 1,811 adult participants, 25% had elevated blood mercury levels. Elevated mercury in pregnant women can cause cognitive delays in their children. Women of child-bearing years should avoid fish that contain high mercury levels. Avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. Albacore tuna has more mercury than chunk light. Go here for some great pocket guides to fish (what’s good, what to avoid): http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx.
8. Oral sex linked to throat cancer. Oral sex can lead to many STDs, but an article in the New England Journal of Medicine linked oral sex, the human papilloma virus (HPV), and throat cancer. After adjusting for smoking and drinking, the two most common causes of throat cancer, researches found those who tested positive for HPV were thirty two more times likely to have throat cancer. This was for both male and female participants.
9. Hormone replacement therapy. As early as 2000, some doctors were recommending against this treatment due to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which suggested it increased the risk of breast cancer. Studies have continued to come out with contradictory findings, leading to further confusion on this matter.
10. STDs on the rise. New cases of some of the most common sexually transmitting diseases (STDs) are still on the rise. Approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur annually.