Double Dose: New Study on Caffeine and Pregnancy; "Drive-By" Mastectomies; The Pill Protects Against Cancer; Treating Aging Like a Disease

By Christine Cupaiuolo — January 27, 2008

Caffeine and Pregnancy: A new study (PDF) published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology says too much caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage. Researchers found that “pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the amount in 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea — may double their risk of miscarriage,” reports The New York Times.

Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., and lead author of the study, said pregnant women should try to give up caffeine for at least the first three or four months. But some physicians had reservations about the study.

“Just interviewing women, over half of whom had already had their miscarriage, does not strike me as the best way to get at the real scientific question here,” said Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and of epidemiology, at Columbia University Medical Center. “But it is an excellent way to scare women.”

Kindness RX: Women’s eNews looks at a social-support campaign by and for pregnant African American women, who are nearly four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women.The community-based campaign is called “100 Intentional Acts of Kindness Toward a Pregnant Woman.”

No More Drive-By Mastectomies: Celebrities, activists and lawmakers called on Congress this week to pass the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007, which would require that insurers cover up to a 48-hour stay in a hospital after a woman has had a mastectomy if the doctor and patient deem it necessary. Lifetime’s website collected 20 million signatures in support of the legislation.

According to the Baltimore Sun, only 10 states require up to 48 hours of coverage after mastectomies, and 10 states have no specific time limit. The remaining 30 have no protections.

Interview with Lisa Jackson: Melissa Silverstein interviews fillmmaker Lisa Jackson, who went to the Congo to take the testimony of women and girls being raped and sexually assaulted for the last decade in her new film, “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.” The film made its premiere at Sundance and will appear on HBO in April.

Plus: Chances are you saw the Oscar nominations this week, but did you catch the nominees for the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards? Here’s the full list of nominees.

The Pill Protects Against Cancer: “British researchers found that women taking the pill for 15 years halved their chances of developing ovarian cancer, and that the risk remained low more than 30 years later, though protection weakened over time,” reports the Washington post. The findings were published Friday in The Lancet.

In response to the study, The Lancet’s editors called for oral contraceptives to be made more widely available to women over the counter.

Calcium Effects Boosted by Vitamin D: The combination of calcium and vitamin D is more effective than calcium alone in preventing bone loss in elderly women, according to a new study that will appear in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Buying into Botox: In a story about “How Not to Look Old,” a new advice book by Charla Krupp, a former beauty director at Glamour and columnist for More magazine, New York Times writer Natasha Singer notes that the book “is the latest makeover title to treat the aging of one’s exterior as a disease whose symptoms are to be fought to the death or, at least, mightily camouflaged.” She continues:

But the book offers a serious rationale for such vigilant attempts at age control, arguing that trying to pass for younger is not so much a matter of sexual allure as of job security. […] Many people would shun a book if it were titled “How Not to Look Jewish” or “How Not to Look Gay” because to cater to discrimination is to capitulate to it. But the success of “How Not to Look Old” indicates that popular culture is willing to buy into ageism as an acceptable form of prejudice, even against oneself.

“Teeth” Provides Feminist Bite: In a review of the new film “Teeth,” a satire based on the myth of vagina dentata, Wesley Morris writes: “[T]here’s something almost subversive about Lichtenstein’s affection for his heroine and the pleasure she ultimately takes in re-appropriating a misogynistic myth. By the end of the film she’s not some virginal damsel. She’s on the verge of becoming a vaginal vigilante.”

Pop Goes Abortion: Yep. Another story about recent films that have avoided abortion … but this Newsday story goes further, addressing television’s representation (and lack thereof) as well: “More frequently, shows duck the issue by having characters back out at the last second (“Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “The O.C.,” “Felicity,” “Sex and the City”) or miscarry (“Party of Five,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place” – twice.) And Erica Kane? In 2005 she learned her baby wasn’t aborted after all, but transferred to another woman’s uterus.”

OK, it’s been ages since I watched “All My Children,” but he’s joking, right??

Plus: Susan J. Douglas puts in context “The Jamie Lynn Effect.”

3 responses to “Double Dose: New Study on Caffeine and Pregnancy; “Drive-By” Mastectomies; The Pill Protects Against Cancer; Treating Aging Like a Disease”

  1. Re: Pill
    better living through chemistry, yeah!So you balance your risks of getting breast CA vs not getting uterine cancer? does anybody ever think that we should stop screwing with our bodies hormones?

  2. I bless Margaret Sanger everyday for helping to develop the birth control pill. I have taken the pill for most of my adult life. I did take a small break for a couple of years, but my menstrual cramps and bleeding are so severe that I would be completely out of commission several days each month. The pain is so severe that I throw up.

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