Double Dose: "Push Presents"; Report on Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer; More Doctors Offer Online Services; "Juno" Delivers

By Christine Cupaiuolo — December 9, 2007

FDA Panel Rejects Breast Cancer Drug: “A Food and Drug Administration panel dealt a sharp blow to biotech giant Genentech Inc. on Wednesday by refusing to recommend approval for the company’s high-profile drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer,” reports the L.A. Times. “The cancer drugs are controversial: They extend patients’ lives in some cases only by several months, and they can cost as much as $100,000 per patient per year. In recent years, federal regulators have been willing to approve drugs even if the benefits were only marginal. But that may be changing.”

Health Care Debate Needs to Include Women: “As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic leadership in the Legislature negotiate a health care proposal that they hope everyone can agree upon, it’s important to consider a California constituency that hasn’t received enough attention during this debate: women,” writes Carlina Hansen, executive director of the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, in an op-ed published in the Sacramento Bee.

The op-ed was co-signed by other representatives of the Women’s Working Group on Universal Health Care, a California-based organization that focuses on educating and involving women and women’s organizations in state and local health reform efforts. Check them out.

The Doctor Will Email You Now: “Unlike the banking, restaurant and travel industries, the medical profession has been slow to embrace the Internet’s potential customer service benefits,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “But despite concerns about patient privacy, costs and time constraints, a growing number of physicians are encouraging patients to go online to do things such as check lab results and immunization records, request refills and appointments, and e-mail their physicians with non-urgent medical questions.”

What Says Love Like Diamonds in the Delivery Room? In another example of All The News That’s Fit for Wealthy Heterosexual White Women, the New York Times turns attention to “push presents,” given to the mother following childbirth. Art commemorating the baby’s birth — I get that. I also understand, as one commenter points out, the desire to celebrate the birth with something that can be passed down for generations. But the materialism depicted in this story is disturbing. What’s nine months of pregnancy and labor worth? How about at least six months of paid maternity leave — now that’s priceless.

Plus: New word association game — read the word “push,” visit Pushed Birth.

Environmental Toxin Can Collect in Breast Milk: “Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns,” reports HealthDay News. “Used since the 1940s to manufacture explosives and rocket fuel, the contaminant is still widely present in the water and food supply, experts say.”

The study by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University appeared in the Dec. 3-7 advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here’s more from the EPA on perchlorate.

A Special Delivery: “‘Juno’ is the only film in recent history in which the protagonist seriously considers termination,” writes Jennie Yarbroff in Newsweek. Of course if you’ve read any of the reviews (which are almost uniformly stellar) you know that consideration is as far as it goes.

EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum writes in her review: “The old-school feminist in me wishes Juno spent more time, even a tart sentence or two, acknowledging that the options taken for granted by this one attractive, articulate teen are in fact hard-won, precious rights, and need to be guarded by a new-generation army of Junos and Bleekers, spreading the word by text message as well as by hamburger phone. Separate but equal truth: This movie is so delightful and good-hearted a portrait of the kind of new-generation army I’d like to hang with that I accept the admonition ‘Silencio, old woman.'”

Plus: NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviews crush-worthy Ellen Page, and critic Bob Mondello finds this season’s films are where the girls are.

Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Lowell & Boston University last month published an updated scientific review, Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: New Evidence, 2005-2007. According to the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, the report concludes that “mounting evidence linking unintentional exposures to toxins in our workplaces and general environment contribute to the nearly one and a half million new cases of cancer in the U.S. in just 2007 alone.”

The report synthesizes the recent peer-reviewed scientific literature and finds compelling new evidence linking cancer with specific exposures, namely:

* Breast cancer from exposure to the pesticide DDT before puberty;
* Leukemia from exposure to 1,3-butadiene;
* Lung cancer from exposure to air pollution;
* Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from exposure to pesticides and solvents;
* Prostate cancer from exposure to pesticides and metal working fluids;
* Brain cancer from exposure to non-ionizing radiation; and
* A range of cancers from exposure to pesticides based on early findings from the Agricultural Health Study

Here’s the executive summary and the full 45-page report (PDF).

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