Happy Valentine's Day

By Christine Cupaiuolo — February 14, 2007

For your V’Day pleasure, an eclectic round-up of healthy love stories …

Women and Heart Disease: Selling Statins: In an op-ed written in response to American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women Day” campaign, Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, and John Abramson, a Boston area physician and author of “Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine,” argue that the campaign to increase awareness about heart disease and strokes also manages to exploit women’s concerns about their health:

Yes, you should “know your numbers,” as the Go Red campaign suggests, but not the ones you’re probably thinking of — your cholesterol levels and the thresholds set by the National Cholesterol Education Program’s guidelines for starting a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.

These guidelines recommend that women without heart disease who have two or more risk factors and a “moderately high” risk of heart disease be “offered” statin therapy, if their bad cholesterol (LDL) level is 100 or higher. The experts who formulated the guidelines insist that their recommendations are based on scientific evidence from recent clinical trials.

But it’s just like the hormone replacement therapy story. The experts who wrote the guidelines cite seven studies that they claimed show cholesterol-lowering statins to be beneficial for such women with a 10-20 percent risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years. But, as [Abramson] pointed out in a recent peer-reviewed article in the respected British medical journal the Lancet, there has never been a single clinical trial showing that statin therapy is beneficial for women who don’t already have heart disease or diabetes. Not one. Even the guideline authors admit that clinical evidence to support their recommendations is “generally lacking” and that their recommendations are made by “extrapolation of data from men.”

Abramson also collaborated on OBOS’ new menopause book.

Get on Board: “Is there any more appropriate way to mark Valentine’s Day in New York City than to have a total stranger approach you on a dirty subway station and hand you a condom?” asks Tom Zeller Jr., author of The New York Times blog The Lede. Before you say, “Ewwww,” read on. Turns out the city’s Health Department came up with a nifty way to gauge whether condoms handed out by the city as part of an effort to reduce the transmission rate of HIV are actually being used. The new NYC condom packets mimic the colors of the subway lines. More from the AP.

New Model Gauges Heart Risk: Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital have created a more expansive detection model to better determine a woman’s risk of a heart attack or other coronary problems, reports the Boston Globe.

Love That Scent? A Consumer Reports ShopSmart article, “What you should know about chemicals in your cosmetics,” covers some of the potential dangers in cosmetics, including the fact that some of the most popular fragrances on the market contain phthalates, which may be linked to developmental and reproductive health risks. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is advocating for a Safe & Sexy Valentine’s Day with plenty of recipes for natural, toxin-free spa concoctions.

Lack Of Sex-Specific Data on Heart Disease: “Heart disease differences in men and women continue to be poorly understood because women are included in clinical trials far less than men, and even when women are included, study results are not reported by sex, according to a study in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.” Here’s the full press release. The abstract and an accompanying editorial are available to non-subscribers.

“We hope this analysis will drive the behavior of researchers. If more women are included in trials and the results are reported by sex, it will help physicians provide the best care possible to both men and women,” said Sharonne Hayes, M.D., an author of the collaborative study and director of Mayo Clinic’s Women Heart Clinic.

One response to “Happy Valentine’s Day”

  1. Yes, there is an unthinking embrace of cholesterol medicines, and a failure to understand their limitations and downsides.

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