WBEZ | breast cancer http://www.wbez.org/tags/breast-cancer Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Latina lesbians facing terminal illness celebrate life, love in wedding http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latina-lesbians-facing-terminal-illness-celebrate-life-love-wedding-110272 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/wedding_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was about 30 minutes before Carol Boyd was going to tie the knot Sunday. She was upstairs at the Chicago Urban Arts Society in Pilsen, touching up her makeup, while her two daughters fluffed up the skirt on her wedding dress.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you,&rdquo; she told them. &ldquo; My daughters are giving me away, I&rsquo;m like the proudest mom on earth.&rdquo;</p><p>She took photos, then headed downstairs with her daughters and friends running lookout. She was trying to avoid even the briefest glimpse of her bride-to-be. The couple wanted to honor the traditional custom and be surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;Now we get to take exactly what everybody else gets to take, a marriage certificate, a marriage license,&rdquo; Carol said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m excited, I&rsquo;m happy, and I&rsquo;m proud to be able to do this today and make history.&rdquo;</p><p>In a hallway off to the side of the reception area, her future bride, Mae Yee, was pacing. She has a shaved head, and was sporting a white brocaded vest and a red bow tie.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a little nervous,&rdquo; Mae said, laughing. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m getting married for the first time for real, I mean &lsquo;real&rsquo; real, this is like federal real.&rdquo;</p><p>They were about to join three other lesbian couples in a ceremony called &ldquo;A Big Queer Latina Wedding.&rdquo;&nbsp; They were among dozens of couples -- gay, lesbian and straight -- who took part in various mass weddings across Chicago to celebrate June 1, the first day same-sex marriages became legal in Illinois.</p><p>May and Carol Yee both hope the state&rsquo;s new same-sex marriage law leads to greater mainstream acceptance, but their particular wedding vows go even deeper than that.</p><p>Carol&rsquo;s a colon cancer survivor, and Mae has stage IV breast cancer. She&rsquo;s going to chemo every 21 days, hoping to prolong their life together as much as possible.</p><p>Mae said marriage means she can take care of her family financially, even if she&rsquo;s not here anymore.</p><p>&ldquo;I get sick, I can say, &lsquo;This is my wife, and these are my kids, and please let them in,&rsquo; and they have to abide by that, so I&rsquo;m very, very happy about that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh my goodness, today is amazing, &ldquo; said Jessica Carillo, who organized the Latina event, which was sponsored by United Latino Pride and Lambda Legal. &ldquo;Today is a day closer to sort of being seen more equal in the eyes of our families, in the eyes of our community. For Latinos, marriage is a huge milestone. Marriage is, sort of what you&rsquo;re meant to do, to build a family.&rdquo;</p><p>Carillo said many Latinos face the twin challenges of Catholicism prohibiting same-sex marriage, and having parents who grew up in another country.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re bringing the ideas from back home, they&rsquo;re bringing whatever those biases in the way they grew up,&rdquo; Carillo says, adding the younger generation is growing up here with new ideas. &ldquo;And so when you mix those two things, there&rsquo;s a clash.&rdquo;</p><p>Carillo said she hopes same-sex marriage becoming legal will lead to more acceptance by Latinos and society.</p><p>But even though this was a day of celebration for LGBT people across the state, Evette Cardona said there&rsquo;s work to be done. She co-founded Amigas Latinas, an organization that seeks to empower and educate LGBT Latinas, with her wife, the city&rsquo;s Human Relations Commissioner, Mona Noriega.</p><p>&ldquo;While today we celebrate these four couples, tomorrow there&rsquo;s 10 times the number of families that won&rsquo;t accept their lesbian daughters,&rdquo; Cardona says. &ldquo;In the communities of color, if you are rejected by your family, and you also experience rejection by the mainstream community, where do you turn?&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, the parents of one of the brides, Juanita Gonzalez, didn&rsquo;t attend the wedding. But she found support in her aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as the family she&rsquo;s formed with her wife, Janet Cecil. Janet has two daughters, and a granddaughter, and they all stood by as the couple spoke their vows and exchanged rings.</p><p>When Juanita broke down midway through, one of Janet&rsquo;s daughters reached out to pat her back, and her little granddaughter did the same.</p><p>The couple, grandmothers now, were best friends in high school. Juanita says she knew she loved Janet at 16. But Janet thought it was wrong for her to feel this way about a woman. They moved in other directions, but said they kept finding their way back to each other, until they finally became a couple. Janet&rsquo;s friends and family&rsquo;s reaction? Essentially, &lsquo;Finally.&rsquo;</p><p>Like the other couples, Carol and Mae Yee shared their vows with laughter and tears, the promises to care for each other in sickness and health, deep with meaning.</p><p>&ldquo;...I vow to love you with every being, even after my last breath,&rdquo; Mae said. &ldquo;I promise to cherish each moment God has given us together for the rest of our lives &hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I love you whether you&rsquo;re fat or fit, and when you&rsquo;re hurt, and when you&rsquo;re sick&hellip;&rdquo; Carol vowed.</p><p>The couple runs a charity together in their spare time called Humble Hearts, providing the homeless with food, clothing and furniture.</p><p>Carol said that didn&rsquo;t leave much for a fancy wedding with a reception, so she was grateful for the all-volunteer event in Pilsen, which was free for everyone attending.</p><p>Before the ceremony, a tearful Carol said of her bride, Mae: &ldquo;She&rsquo;s here today to live long enough to actually be married. It&rsquo;s my gift to her, it&rsquo;s me committing to her for better or worse, sickness and health. She&rsquo;s got a lot of sickness right now, but I&rsquo;m not going anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>On this, their wedding day, there was no sickness in sight, only joy.</p><p>When the music started, they jumped out onto the dance floor with the three other newly married couples. And their first dance?</p><p>The song made famous by Etta James, &ldquo;At Last.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporting covering religion and culture.</em></p></p> Tue, 03 Jun 2014 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latina-lesbians-facing-terminal-illness-celebrate-life-love-wedding-110272 Morning Shift: Ready for the Ventra switch? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-08/morning-shift-ready-ventra-switch-108867 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Ventra flickr-cta web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk about the ups and downs of the CTA&#39;s transition to Ventra, hear from Michael Puente about the proposed Illiana expressway, and talk with a breast cancer advocacy group on how we can be smart contributors this October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Photo: Flickr/Steven Vance)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-ventra-cards-are-here-to-stay/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-ventra-cards-are-here-to-stay.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-ventra-cards-are-here-to-stay" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Ready for the Ventra switch?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 08 Oct 2013 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-08/morning-shift-ready-ventra-switch-108867 Chicago filmmaker and BRCA-positive woman celebrates liberation of her genes http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-filmmaker-and-brca-positive-woman-celebrates-liberation-her-genes-107722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/BRCA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Joanna Rudnik&rsquo;s mother was in her early 40s when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Fearing a similar fate, the Chicago filmmaker decided to document her family&rsquo;s history&mdash;and her own predisposition&mdash;in the 2008 film, <a href="http://www.pbs.org/pov/inthefamily" target="_blank"><em>In the Family</em></a>.</p><p>She was single and just 27 years old when she tested positive for a mutation of the so-called breast cancer gene. But Rudnick desperately wanted children. She wasn&rsquo;t ready to lose her ovaries to lower her risk of cancer.</p><p>She then had to decide between surveillance and surgery.</p><p>But at least she had a choice.</p><p>Not many women get that choice. Because not many women have access to the information she had; to know that they are possibly living with a ticking time bomb inside of them.</p><p>Those who test positive for BRCA mutations have up to an 85 to 90 percent lifetime chance of developing breast cancer. And up to a 50 to 60 percent life chance of developing ovarian cancer.</p><p>Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade directs the Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago. She said many family members live under a cloud of fear.</p><p>Olopade&rsquo;s been working for more than nearly two decades to open up genetic testing to all women.</p><p>&ldquo;I spent my time as a cancer geneticist and expert in cancer-risk assessment actually calling insurance companies to advocate that women would benefit from the test and they should cover it. Sometimes when it&rsquo;s denied, then the women can&rsquo;t afford it, then they just don&rsquo;t take the test,&rdquo; Olopade explained.</p><p>See, many uninsured or underinsured women couldn&rsquo;t afford the test. And really, most third-party payers didn&rsquo;t want to cover the BRCAnalysis test. Because it generally cost over $3,000.</p><p>The reason? There&rsquo;s just one test. A Salt Lake City-based biotech company called Myriad Genetics had a monopoly. They obtained patents on the two genes back in the 1990s, eliminating any chance of market competition.&nbsp;</p><p>Near the end of filming, Rudnik went to Myriad&rsquo;s offices to confront them. She met with the founder and Chief Scientific Officer Mark Skolnick. He said the bottom line is that women were getting tested&mdash;in fact, he claimed she would not have been tested were it not for Myriad. And that doctors were &ldquo;not prepared to do this.&rdquo; He claimed that Myriad has addressed every problem that came up and solved it because they had a commercial interest.</p><p>The Supreme Court ruled that Myriad&rsquo;s interests did not give them the right to patent parts of naturally-occurring genes. The unanimous decision came at an especially significant time for Rudnick.</p><p>Thursday was her 39th birthday.</p><p>In December, Rudnick was diagnosed with breast cancer&mdash;just a few months after giving birth to her second daughter. She just finished chemo and recently underwent a bilateral mastectomy and an oophorectomy.</p><p>&ldquo;I just want better choices for my daughters&mdash;because I don&rsquo;t want my daughters to go through what I went through and I want them to have better options&rdquo; Rudnick said.</p><p>Soon after the Supreme Court delivered its decision, several labs announced plans to offer genetic testing. One lab, DNATraits, said it planned to offer the BRCA test in the U.S. for $995&mdash;that&rsquo;s less than a third of the current price.</p><p>Rudnick called the court&rsquo;s decision an absolute victory. But she believes it needs to be taken a step further. Now that women&rsquo;s genes have been reclaimed, she says it&rsquo;s time to collect the data Myriad compiled&mdash;so that better, cheaper tests and treatments can be developed.</p><p>In Honor of the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision, PBS has posted Rudnick&rsquo;s film, In the Family, on its website. It can be <a href="http://www.pbs.org/pov/inthefamily/full.php#.UbuX6b-R98E" target="_blank">viewed online</a>, free of charge.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 17 Jun 2013 07:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-filmmaker-and-brca-positive-woman-celebrates-liberation-her-genes-107722 Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy, message to women http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/angelina-jolies-double-mastectomy-message-women-107146 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Angelina+Jolie+Women+World+Summit+2013+YU0jH7mzUNax-e1365152773248.jpg" title="Angelina Jolie attends the Women in the World Summit in New York on April 4, 2013. (Reuters) " /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><a href="http://www.nbcwashington.com/entertainment/celebrity/Angelina_Jolie_Voted_Most_Beautiful_Woman_World.html" target="_blank">Angelina Jolie</a>&nbsp;may be one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen. In real life, she seems almost too perfect: an alien-like presence of unattainable sexuality (ask any geekboy who first ogled her curves in <em>Lara Croft Tomb Raider</em>) whom many women have been <a href="http://halloftheblackdragon.com/reel/women-hate-angelina-jolie-so-we-love-her/" target="_blank">quick to hate</a> despite her outstanding work as a <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/11/world/meast/syria-civil-war" target="_blank">UN Ambassador</a> and comittment to feminist causes around the world.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Perhaps this idea of Jolie as an aloof ice-princess being <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2324149/Angelina-Jolie-reveals-double-mastectomy-learning-87-risk-breast-cancer.html?ito=feeds-newsxml" target="_blank">shattered overnight</a> is why her recent reveal of a double mastectomy feels all the more inspiring and important. She had her storied breasts removed, and she wants other women to know that it&#39;s okay to do the same.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/opinion/my-medical-choice.html?_r=2&amp;" target="_blank">powerful op-ed</a>&nbsp;for the <em>New York Times,&nbsp;</em>Jolie describes how she recently underwent surgery to combat a &quot;faulty gene&quot; that predisposed her to breast and ovarian cancer:&nbsp;</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of ovarian cancer,&quot; Jolie writes, &quot;Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is much higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery more complex.&quot;</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">Jolie&#39;s decision was no doubt a difficult one, but the op-ed does not read &quot;woe is me&quot; or at all. In fact, Jolie&#39;s purpose for writing the piece is clear: she wants women in a similar situation to be informed about their options and unafraid to take drastic action if need be.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Of course, Jolie is ridiculously wealthy and can afford the best healthcare imaginable. But rather than glossing over this privilege as if it doesn&#39;t exist, she makes a point of admitting that &quot;the cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.&quot;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Moreover, being rich and famous does not exclude her from the same horrible disease that <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20010082,00.html" target="_blank">took her own mother&#39;s life</a>&nbsp;(ovarian cancer) and the lives of myriads more who will never have their names in the papers. Jolie also points out that breast cancer alone kills <a href="http://www.komennyc.org/site/DocServer/Global_Breast_and_Cancer_Facts-_6-30-10.pdf?docID=3881" target="_blank">458,000 people</a> each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low and middle-income countries.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Then Jolie addresses the big elephant in the room: does she feel like less of a <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/celebrities/free/20130118angelina-jolie-sex-symbol.html" target="_blank">sex symbol</a> now that her famous breasts have been removed? Absolutely not, she says:</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;On a personal note, I don&#39;t feel like any less of a woman [for having this surgery]. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.&quot;</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">So whether you like Jolie or not, as an actress or as a human being you&#39;ve only seen in movies and read about in gossip rags, at least she is strong enough to tell you that her womanhood is not defined by her outward appearance. I admire her for this message, as a woman&#39;s decision to remove her breasts and ovaries&mdash;which many believe to be the very essence of their sexuality&mdash;is often one of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.drlauraberman.com/sexual-health/your-body/double-mastectomy" target="_blank">hardest choices</a>&nbsp;that she will ever have to make.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Still, <em>choice</em> is the most important word here. The title of Jolie&#39;s op-ed is &quot;My Medical Choice,&quot; implying that other women should also feel just as free to make their own decisions in regards to their personal health and wellbeing.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Recent studies have shown that most women who undergo double mastectomies <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127190018.htm" target="_blank">don&#39;t really need them</a>. However,&nbsp;shouldn&#39;t the woman be the one to decide, especially if she feels that the risk of succumbing to the same fate as her family members or leaving her children motherless is ultimately too great of a risk to take?&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the end, Jolie is grateful that she can tell children, in all confidence, that &quot;they don&#39;t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.&quot; And for many women, that is more than enough reason to part with their breasts and still be as beautiful, feminine and unbreakable in their inherent womanhood as ever.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Note: Chicago&#39;s own <a href="http://kartemquin.com" target="_blank">Kartemquin Films</a>&nbsp;produced an amazing Emmy-nominated documentary on this topic, <em><a href="http://inthefamily.kartemquin.com/content/watch-family-free-online" target="_blank">In the Family</a>, </em>that&nbsp;will stream online at <a href="http://www.pbs.org/pov/inthefamily/" target="_blank">PBS.org</a>&nbsp;for an extra two weeks in light of Ms. Jolie&#39;s announcement.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><em>Leah writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/angelina-jolies-double-mastectomy-message-women-107146 UIC to study weight loss after breast cancer http://www.wbez.org/science/health/uic-study-weight-loss-after-breast-cancer-98536 <p><p>Researchers in Chicago are launching a study to find out whether weight loss can help African-American breast cancer survivors.</p><p>The University of Illinois at Chicago study is funded by a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.</p><p>Melinda Stolley is leading the research. She says poor diet, lack of physical activity and obesity contribute to breast cancer progression.</p><p>The randomized study will recruit 240 breast cancer survivors who finished their treatment at least six months ago. Study participants need to be overweight, able to participate in moderate physical activity and not currently in a structured weight-loss program.</p><p>UIC will coordinate with the Chicago Park District to carry out the study in the Roseland-Pullman, Englewood, Austin, South Shore and Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago.</p></p> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/science/health/uic-study-weight-loss-after-breast-cancer-98536 Study finds race gap in breast cancer deaths in many cities http://www.wbez.org/story/study-finds-race-gap-breast-cancer-deaths-many-cities-97525 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-21/mammo machine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>African-American women with breast cancer in Chicago are <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21190070">more likely to die of their disease </a>than white women.</p><p>Now a new study by Chicago researchers finds that <a href="http://www.cancerepidemiology.net/webfiles/images/journals/CANEP/CANEP375.pdf">the disparity is a widespread problem in major cities. </a>A team from the <a href="http://www.suhichicago.org/">Sinai Urban Health Institute </a>calculated the race gap in breast cancer mortality for the nation's 25 biggest cities, and found that more than half of them have a significant disparity.</p><p>“In the United States the number of deaths that occur each year because of the disparity, not because of [just] breast cancer, is 1,700,” said <a href="http://www.suhichicago.org/about-suhi/staff/steve-whitman">Steven Whitman</a>, director of the Institute. “That's about five a day.”</p><p>Chicago was among the worst cities, with black women in the city 61 percent more likely to die than white women. Memphis had the largest disparity, and three other cities fared worse than Chicago: Denver, Houston and Los Angeles. All of the data are based on the years 2005-2007.</p><p>The study authors have connections with the <a href="http://www.chicagobreastcancer.org/">Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force, </a>whose research indicates that societal factors – “racism,” as Whitman bluntly put it – are mainly responsible for the disparity. Task force members say unequal access to screening mammograms is largely to blame, and point out that Illinois' program providing screening to low-income women is nearly broke. Other public health researchers note that genetics likely plays a significant role in the race gap as well.</p><p>The study was funded by the <a href="http://www.avonfoundation.org/">Avon Foundation </a>and published in the journal <a href="http://www.cancerepidemiology.net/">Cancer Epidemiology</a>.</p></p> Thu, 22 Mar 2012 02:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/study-finds-race-gap-breast-cancer-deaths-many-cities-97525 Clever Apes: Another gut check http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-23/clever-apes-another-gut-check-95760 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-24/breast cancer_flickr_ginko lev.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Spotted on the wall at Rush's digestive diseases lab. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-23/Stool sample.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 444px;" title="Spotted on the wall at Rush's digestive diseases lab. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)"></p><p>So we just finished explaining how <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-17/clever-apes-24-gut-feelings-95602">the gut is our second brain</a>. How to top that? How about this: Your gut is its own planet.</p><p>The human intestine hosts an entire civilization of microorganisms – about 100 trillion by most estimates. That’s many times more than there are cells in your body. You may think you’re the center of your own universe, but in a sense you’re just a walking ecosystem for this teeming population of bugs.</p><p>The good news is, most of them are beneficial to us. Our intestinal flora help us digest food, excrete waste and even train our immune system. That is kind of old news, but only recently have scientists begun to uncover just how central a role our microscopic gut workforce plays in our overall health.</p><p>Here is one surprising connection – or rather, hypothesized connection: The gut flora <a href="http://www.physorg.com/news175953178.html">may have a hand in breast cancer risk. </a><a href="http://rush.photobooks.com/directory/profile.asp?dbase=main&amp;setsize=10&amp;last=mutlu&amp;Submit=Search%21&amp;pict_id=0005920">Dr. Ece Mutlu</a> of Rush University Medical Center is investigating this possibility. Click the “Listen to this story” button above to hear our interview with her.</p><p>It goes something like this: As the bacteria go through their little lives, eating and excreting, they produce many different compounds. Certain bugs are involved with hormones, specifically estrogen (listen to the interview to hear how Dr. Mutlu started thinking about this hint: it involves <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11351429">sewage treatment plants</a>). Some bacteria break down estrogen, some activate it. Depending on what food we eat, we might encourage the growth of some bacteria or suppress others. That in turn could lead to higher levels of estrogen exposure, which is known to increase the risk of certain kinds of cancers (at least in some people).</p><p>This is still in the early stages of study. But it’s a hallmark of the new ways in which researchers are thinking about the gut flora. Science in general is good at identifying correlations (say, diet and cancer risk), but often less good at teasing out the mechanism behind it – the reason why some environmental factor influences a disease or condition. The gut bacteria are becoming prime candidates to make a lot of those links.</p><p>I, for one, am becoming a bit fanatic about this subject, so expect more down the line. Meanwhile, don’t forget to subscribe to our <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a> (so you won’t miss out on cool interviews like Dr. Mutlu), follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-23/clever-apes-another-gut-check-95760 Long-running study shows benefits of mammograms increase over time http://www.wbez.org/story/long-running-study-shows-benefits-mammograms-increase-over-time-88439 <p><p>The longest-running breast cancer screening study ever conducted has shown that regular mammograms prevent deaths from breast cancer, and the number of lives saved increases over time, an international research team said Tuesday.</p><p>The study of 130,000 women in two communities in <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcountry%2Fralg-geo1%2F88e52ee4-2fd0-9089-6f69-d0d71e339d94&amp;display=Sweden">Sweden</a> showed 30 percent fewer women in the screening group died of breast cancer and that this effect persisted year after year.</p><p>Now, 29 years after the study began, the researchers found that the number of women saved from breast cancer goes up with each year of screening.</p><p>"We've found that the longer we look, the more lives are saved,'' Professor <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2F2f9c14c3-7f93-3270-bb02-dc05c1a9e761&amp;display=Stephen%20Duffy">Stephen Duffy</a> of Queen <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2F846aa3d9-5ab8-3c15-8d45-cd90a9ffe99b&amp;display=Mary">Mary</a>, University of London said in a statement.</p><p>The study was published in the journal<em> Radiology</em>, which is published by the Oak Brook-based <a href="http://www.rsna.org/">Radiological Society of North America</a>.</p><p>Dr. <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2Fea2d614a-a87d-34b5-aa25-fd7ec0524e1a&amp;display=Stamatia%20Destounis">Stamatia Destounis</a>, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fcity%2Fralg-geo1%2F9d780656-b9a4-6789-bcaf-370cabc32490&amp;display=Rochester">Rochester</a>, <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fer%2Fgeo%2Fprovinceorstate%2Fralg-geo1%2F2464781f-2743-853b-bb3a-0b37152c849e&amp;display=New%20York">New York</a>, who was not involved in the study, said radiologists have been quoting results of the Swedish study for years and the new findings show breast cancer screening is "even more of a benefit than we understood.''</p><p>She said sweeping changes in the U.S. screening guidelines two years ago that scaled back recommendations on breast cancer screening caused a lot of confusion among doctors and patients about the benefits of mammograms.</p><p>"We've had to do a lot of education of the patients and their doctors. This will help for that,'' Destounis said.</p><p>In the study, women were divided into two groups, one that received an invitation to have breast cancer screening and another that received usual care.</p><p>The screening phase of the trial lasted about seven years. Women between 40 and 49 were screened every two years, and women 50 to 74 were screened roughly every three years.</p><p>"Our results indicate that in 1,000 women screened for 10 years, three breast cancer deaths would be prevented,'' Duffy said, adding that most of the deaths prevented would have occurred more than a decade after the screening had started.</p><p>"This indicates that the long-term benefits of screening in terms of deaths prevented are more than double those often quoted for short-term follow-up.''</p><p>The new data adds to evidence on the long-term benefits of regular mammography screening.</p><p><strong>U.S. Screening Controversy</strong></p><p>New breast screening recommendations issued in 2009 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential advisory group, recommended against routine mammograms for women in their 40s and said women in their 50s should get mammograms every other year instead of every year.</p><p>The guidelines contradicted years of messages about the need for routine breast cancer screening starting at age 40, eliciting protests from breast cancer experts and advocacy groups who argued the recommendation for fewer screenings would confuse women and result in more deaths from breast cancer.</p><p>The changes were meant to spare women some of the worry and expense of extra tests needed to distinguish between cancer and harmless lumps. But the latest results from the Swedish study show the rate of false positive results was low.</p><p>"We saw the actual number of overdiagnosed cases was really very small -- less than 5 percent of the total,'' <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2Fpershash-1%2F06eccd2a-3361-3d97-910e-89f0b6ca7f00&amp;display=Robert%20Smith">Robert Smith</a>, director of cancer screening at the <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2F875911b4-1b33-3e9b-9737-241727aea848&amp;display=American%20Cancer%20Society">American Cancer Society</a> and one of the study's authors, said in a telephone interview.</p><p>Many groups, including the <a class="cite" id="/controller/search.action?type=entity&amp;entityId=http%3A%2F%2Fd.opencalais.com%2FgenericHasher-1%2F875911b4-1b33-3e9b-9737-241727aea848&amp;display=American%20Cancer%20Society">American Cancer Society</a>, have stuck by their long-standing recommendations of a yearly breast exam for women starting at age 40, stressing that the breast X-rays have been proven to save lives by spotting tumors early, when they are most easily treated.</p><p>"I think for anybody who was beginning to have their faith shaken in the value of mammography, these data show mammography is quite valuable as a public health approach to reducing deaths from breast cancer,'' Smith said.</p><p>Duffy said he thinks screening women 40 to 54 every 18 months and screening women 55 and older every two years would be a reasonable schedule.</p><p>He said the new findings do not speak to the frequency of screening issue, but they do make clear that screening works.</p><p>"Everyone must make up their own mind, but certainly from combined results from all the screening trials, mammography in women aged 40-49 does reduce deaths from breast cancer,'' he said.</p><p>Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women, after lung cancer. It kills 500,000 people globally every year and is diagnosed in close to 1.3 million people around the world.</p><p>(Editing by Todd Eastham)</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 14:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/long-running-study-shows-benefits-mammograms-increase-over-time-88439 Hospital regulators let baby formula vie with breast milk http://www.wbez.org/content/hospital-regulators-let-formula-vie-breast-milk <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Vanessa3.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 266px; height: 199px;" title="Lactation consultant Vanessa Stokes says Cook County’s Stroger Hospital has a long way to go. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p>A new French study shows that breastfeeding may have lasting benefits for a child&rsquo;s metabolism. Other studies suggest breastfeeding helps prevent infections, chronic diseases and obesity. Evidence like this has moved the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend giving babies no food or drink other than breast milk for their first six months. At many Chicago-area hospitals, though, breast milk competes with baby formula. At some of them, the real stuff usually loses. From our West Side bureau, we compare how the area&rsquo;s hospitals approach breastfeeding and see whether watchdog agencies are paying much attention.</p><p>MITCHELL: Certified lactation consultant Vanessa Stokes landed a job in December.</p><p>STOKES: I was excited just to get to that place to really make a difference.</p><p>MITCHELL: That place was the maternity ward of Cook County&rsquo;s Stroger Hospital. Stokes was there to encourage and train moms to breastfeed. But she noticed the hospital giving them signals it was OK to feed newborns formula.</p><p>STOKES: I saw bottles in the cribs.</p><p>MITCHELL: Then Stokes met one of the hospital&rsquo;s newest mothers. Like many patients on the ward, she was young and black. What was less usual was her file. It showed she&rsquo;d been planning to breastfeed.</p><p>STOKES: The baby was born and then, at night, she had some problems with latch-on, which happens. She said, &lsquo;The nurse told me to give the baby a bottle.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s what she told me.</p><p>MITCHELL: You believe her?</p><p>STOKES: Yes, I do. Most nurses, they just don&rsquo;t want to take the time to help moms. They have a million other things to do.</p><p>MITCHELL: And there was no breastfeeding peer counselor or lactation consultant on duty overnight?</p><p>STOKES: No.</p><p>MITCHELL: One of Stokes&rsquo; supervisors at Stroger confirms that the hospital keeps bottles in cribs and that the nurses sometimes give out formula without any medical reason. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/baby-formula/breast-feeding-disparities-sharp-chicago-area-hospitals">Birth-certificate data</a> show that less than 60 percent of infants born at Stroger get to breastfeed there. And there are more places like this. A dozen Chicago-area hospitals have even lower rates. The data show there&rsquo;s one on the South Side where just 10 percent of newborns start breastfeeding.</p><p>SOUND: Elevator door closes.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): I&rsquo;m inside that hospital now. It&rsquo;s called Holy Cross. I&rsquo;m taking an elevator to the 6th floor to see Anita Allen-Karriem. She directs what Holy Cross calls its Family Birth Center.</p><p>SOUND: Elevator door opens. Intercom voice. Birth Center door opens.</p><p>MITCHELL: Allen-Karriem shows me around the ward.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: And, as you can see, this is our rooming-in. And our moms are here and they can have their baby here 24/7...</p><p>MITCHELL: She says Holy Cross initiates breastfeeding within an hour of birth.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: My nurses have the tools that they need to assist with breastfeeding the mom. And we encourage breastfeeding on demand.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): How many lactation consultants do you have on staff?</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: We don&rsquo;t have any. Our volume does not support that at this particular time.</p><p>MITCHELL (on site): Any peer counselors that come in as volunteers? Breastfeeding peer counselors?</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: No, we don&rsquo;t have that at the present.</p><p>MITCHELL: Allen-Karriem says convincing her patients to breastfeed is not always easy. She says most have not received any prenatal care before showing up in labor. Even more than Stroger Hospital, Holy Cross lets breast milk compete with formula. Allen-Karriem says her hospital sends moms home with a few days worth of formula. The idea&rsquo;s to tide them over, until they get into a federal nutrition program that provides more.</p><p>ALLEN-KARRIEM: Is it the best method of nutrition? No, it is not. Breastfeeding is. However, it&rsquo;s the mom&rsquo;s choice. If she wants to exclusively breastfeed, we do not send her home with formula. However, because she has not chosen to breastfeed, would you send her outside your doors with no way to feed her infant and no way to buy any formula?</p><p>MITCHELL: Again, Holy Cross is at the bottom when it comes to breastfeeding rates in Chicago-area hospitals. Experts say that&rsquo;s not a big surprise since it doesn&rsquo;t have lactation consultants and gives out all that formula. But some hospitals are taking a different tack.</p><p>INTERCOM: Stroke alert for the Emergency Room...</p><p>MITCHELL: Like Stroger and Holy Cross, Mount Sinai on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side serves mostly low-income patients. Last year about half the babies born at the hospital were getting breastfed there. To lift that rate, Mount Sinai says it&rsquo;s planning to apply for a pro-breastfeeding designation from the United Nations called Baby Friendly.</p><p>SAIDEL: This is the room where the hearing screen is done...</p><p>MITCHELL: Lou-Ellen Saidel is one of two half-time lactation consultants on Mount Sinai&rsquo;s maternity ward. She says you can see the effect of the Baby Friendly program right in this room. Saidel says the nurses used to quiet down babies for hearing tests by giving them formula. Now, she points to a big sign at eye level.</p><p>SAIDEL: It says, &lsquo;Bottles should only be given for a documented medical reason.&rsquo; So now they don&rsquo;t use formula on breastfeeding babies anymore in here.</p><p>MITCHELL: Saidel says Mount Sinai puts almost every staffer who comes into contact with new mothers or infants through breastfeeding training...</p><p>SAIDEL: ...from registered nurse to secretary. This is a process of people acquiring skills that were not taught in nursing school and medical school.</p><p>MITCHELL: For the Baby Friendly designation, some Sinai staffers will need more training. The sessions won&rsquo;t cost the hospital much money but will eat up staff time. That could explain why no Chicago hospital has applied for the designation. But a lot of breastfeeding experts say the hospitals should give it a try.</p><p>ABRAMSON: Breastfeeding is one those priority areas that are life-and-death for their patients.</p><p>MITCHELL: Rachel Abramson is a former post-partum nurse who heads a Chicago nonprofit group called HealthConnect One.</p><p>ABRAMSON: Those of us who grew up thinking that formula feeding is the norm and perfectly adequate have a hard time shifting our vision to see the risks of illness in the first year of life, juvenile diabetes, of breast cancer for mother, of obesity and diabetes &mdash; lifelong &mdash; for mothers and babies.</p><p>MITCHELL: Abramson says the costs for treating these diseases often ends up on the shoulders of taxpayers. If that&rsquo;s the case, you might think the government and hospital oversight groups would push hard for better breastfeeding rates. But they don&rsquo;t push. They mostly nudge.</p><p>MITCHELL: One group with some accountability is the Oakbrook Terrace-based Joint Commission. It accredits hospitals. Ann Watt helps direct the commission&rsquo;s quality-evaluation division. Watt says about a year ago the commission published some standards for hospitals to measure whether newborns were breastfeeding.</p><p>WATT: Our medical experts have indicated to us that this is a best practice.</p><p>MITCHELL: But these commission standards are voluntary. In fact, just three Illinois hospitals have adopted them.</p><p>MITCHELL (on phone): Could a hospital be performing poorly by these measures and still get accreditation?</p><p>WATT: Yes.</p><p>MITCHELL: Another group with some say is the Illinois Hospital Association. I asked the group whether it would support more public oversight of hospital breastfeeding practices. A spokesman declined to answer on tape but sent a statement saying the rules should not be rigid. The statement says breastfeeding management should begin with prenatal care, not the mother&rsquo;s hospital stay. The hospital association also points out that the decision to breastfeed is personal.</p><p>MITCHELL: The folks with the most to say about hospitals breastfeeding rates are at the Illinois Department of Public Health. The department is in charge of enforcing the state&rsquo;s hospital-licensing code. The code requires hospitals to follow basic breastfeeding guidelines that two physician groups published in 2007. In a statement to WBEZ, the Illinois Department of Public Health says it investigates breastfeeding infection-control issues. Otherwise, though, the department says it does not enforce the guidelines. That leaves public policy on breastfeeding largely up to individual hospitals &mdash; places like Stroger, Mount Sinai and Holy Cross.</p><p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the status of Mount Sinai Hospital&rsquo;s Baby Friendly effort. Chicago officials announced in August 2010 that Mount Sinai was seeking the international designation. The hospital registered to begin that four-phase process in September 2011.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 May 2011 16:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/hospital-regulators-let-formula-vie-breast-milk 'Cancer Bitch' and the afterlife http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/cancer-bitch-and-afterlife <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//S.L. Wisenberg_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago writer S.L. Wisenberg chose the pseudonym &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://cancerbitch.blogspot.com/">Cancer Bitch</a>&quot; when she decided to blog about her battle with breast cancer. The bitch is back with reflections on another aspect of health &ndash; preparing for the afterlife. Wisenberg is the author of &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Cancer-Bitch-S-Wisenberg/dp/1587298023">The Adventures of Cancer Bitch</a>,&quot; a book based on her blog. <br /><br /><br />****<br /><br />Happy New Year to everyone. May this be a year of joy and health&mdash;meaning good health. Everyone has some kind of health, I guess, as long as you&rsquo;re alive.&nbsp; Which leads me to a couple of pieces that I&rsquo;ve gotten in the mail and have been thinking about. First, a fundraising&nbsp; letter from the Authors Guild.&nbsp; The Guild wants me to remember it in my will. There are enticements. The letter informs me that &ldquo;There are some estate and income tax benefits, too, not to mention invitations to special events and special seating.&rdquo; And, there&rsquo;s one last encouragement: &ldquo;The great thing about this is, you don&rsquo;t have to pay until after you die.&rdquo;</p> <div>I suppose the special seating is for before I die, not after, but you never know, since I&rsquo;ll be paying when I&rsquo;m gone. Maybe The Guild intends for me to be a very active corpse.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>But I won&rsquo;t be a corpse. I&rsquo;m donating my organs, and the largest organ is skin, so I plan to be parceled out. If there are no uses for my bones, I may hang together as a skeleton. In that case, I will need very special seating.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Second piece in the mail: brochure from Rush University Medical Center, telling me that even if I do crossword puzzles or play chess in order to keep my brain sharp, I could still be screwed&mdash;and worse&mdash;in the end. A report in the journal <i>Neurology</i> indicates that if you have lesions from dementia, you can delay symptoms by stimulating your brain, but eventually, once you develop dementia, you&rsquo;re going to go downhill fast.&nbsp; Robert Wilson, the Rush neuropsychologist who authored the study, said: &ldquo;[T]he benefit of delaying the initial signs of cognitive decline may come at a cost. On the other hand,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;by compressing the course of dementia, mental activities could reduce the overall amount of time that a person may suffer from the condition. And that&rsquo;s a good thing.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In other words, you can&rsquo;t outrun your dementia forever. But by the time it socks you, you&rsquo;ll be older and more decrepit, and closer to death.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>If, like me, you&rsquo;re always worried about your brain, about seeing the word you need just up the road but not being able to reach it, about using the wrong word that sounds like the right one, about being disorganized and forgetful and always looking for the depot where your trains of thought went, and wondering what part of this is chemo brain and what is middle-age and what is menopause (brought on by chemo with enhanced symptoms thanks to Tamoxifen)&mdash;here&rsquo;s the Mimi-Mental State Exam used to get a handle on a person&rsquo;s cognitive decline.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <ol type="1" start="1"><li>What is today&rsquo;s date?</li><li>What is the year?</li><li>What day of the week is today?</li><li>What season is it?</li><li>What is the name of this clinic?</li><li>What floor are we on?</li><li>What city are we in?</li><li>What county are we in?</li><li>What state are we in?</li><li>Who is the president of the U.S.?</li><li>Who was the president before him?</li><li>Who was the president before him?</li><li>Who was the first president of the U.S.?</li><li>Name another president.</li></ol> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ask the subject to begin with 100 and count backwards by seven. Stop after five subtractions. Score the correct subtractions.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>It was a relief to see that you don&rsquo;t have to count all the way backwards by sevens from 100 to 2, just to 65. 100, 93, 86, 79, 72, 65&hellip;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Music Button: Freddie Hubbard, &quot;Skydive&quot;, from the CD On the Real Side, (Times Square records) </em></div></p> Tue, 11 Jan 2011 14:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/cancer-bitch-and-afterlife