HealthBar


Let Freedom Ring?
April 7, 2008, 10:18 am
Filed under: drugs, test, Uncategorized

I saw this ad for NuvaRing, the birth control “diaphragm,” while flipping through Fitness Magazine on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s death.

Let Freedom Ring! Nuva Ring Ad in the May 2008 issue of Fitness

Besides the meaningless appropriation of Dr. King’s words, I found this offensive on many levels.

I think it’s something about how the ring daintily pressed between the model’s fingers looks just like those sparkling bangles on her wrist–another accessory for the modern woman.

Also, the insinuation that women should be free from their periods, a natural occurrence, irks me. But what pushes me over the top is the fact that the only path to this elusive freedom involves buying a name-brand product (with no generic equivalent), sticking it where the sun don’t shine and keeping it there for 3 weeks.

Now, I might not be a scientist but I remember someone telling me during childhood not to stick things in my body and let them fester for weeks. Yet the ‘Important Information’ section on NuvaRing’s Freedom ad makes no mention of such risks. Fortunately, consumers have picked up the slack.  Check here and here and here for some of the real dirt.

The disclaimer mentions standard fare. Does not protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, there is an increased risk of blood clots, Women using the NuvaRing should not smoke cigarettes as smoking increases the risk of side effects.

These are all warnings I have heard before but then I’m caught by a vague hedge. It is unknown if the risks of blood clots is different with NuvaRing than with with use of certain birth control pills.

Isn’t that something you should know, FDA, before you approve such a drug?

Isn’t that something you should test, Organon, before you market a drug as the next cause to fight for?

Apparently not. Or at least the FDA didn’t think so when the agency approved NuvaRing in 2001. About 4.5 million women now use Organon’s product and until recently, none of them knew the price of “freedom” was so high.

Two New Jersey women, Rosana Marcando and Jackie Kelly Bozicev, died last year. Though Maricando died of a stroke and Bozicev of a seizure, both deaths are blamed on NuvaRing. A briefly mentioned side effect, increased risk of blood clots, was determined to have caused the death of both women. There are currently 150 lawsuits pending against Organon’s “freedom ring.”

The deaths have reignited claims that Organon’s product is not safe and that the company’s marketing material does not adequately warn women of potentially fatal side effects. The two women from New Jersey had similar lives. Both were young mothers in good health. Neither smoked cigarettes but both of them decided to try NuvaRing.

Now both are dead and the ad in my Fitness magazine doesn’t mention a word about any of it.

Read about Rosana Marcando.

Read about Jackie Kelly Bozicev.

Interestingly, according the circulation data from Meredith Corporation, Fitness’ parent company, the average reader of the magazine is a 36-year-old female. Nearly 40 percent of Fitness’ 6,642,000 readers are moms. And 46 percent fall in the desirable 18-34 category.

In 2007, the FDA asked Organon to amend NuvaRing’s label to “describe rare reports of inadvertent insertion of the product into the urinary bladder and vaginal/cervical erosion or ulceration associated with product use.”

They did not mention that in February of 2007, the health research group Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to ban all third generation oral contraceptives that contain desogestrel due to increased risk of blood clots. The group contends that third generation oral contraceptives double the risk of blood clots in women, compared to second generation contraceptives.

Though NuvaRIng is not an oral contraceptive, it contains etonogestrel, a biologically active metabolite of the dangerous third generation progestin desogestrel. Whew.

Over all these alarm bells, I can’t the freedom ringing at all.

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Gettin’ Shit-faced
November 13, 2007, 2:40 am
Filed under: drugs, kids, Salon

I was having brunch yesterday when conversation veered (too quickly for my taste) from Thanksgiving plans to smoking feces, the new drug made popular by bored teens in the midwest. Umm, how did I miss this?

Across the country last week, local stations aired stories about a sharp increase in the use of jenkem, a fermented mixture of urine and feces inhaled to achieve a high akin to cocaine, accompanied by hallucinations. Suddenly, jenkem was the new meth and I was talking about it at brunch, on my birthday.

According to this Salon article, the hysteria was fabricated, kids in the heartland are still just stealing cough syrup and fertilizer to get high. The drug, though, is real and was first made by impoverished kids in Zambia.



Don’t Need No Made Up Man
November 1, 2007, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A surge in makeup for him, leading men lining their brows and America’s gradual acceptance of metrosexuality led to this article Tuesday wondering, are you ready for men wielding a compact instead of the remote? As I read, I thought of my boyfriend coming home giddy after finding his perfect fall shade of lip liner. I thought of him curling his hair and powdering his nose.

Then, I thought of the power I possess over him by just putting on a little eyeliner and how that would deplete exponentially when he realizes I’m actually terrible at it. I started worrying that I would have open the dusty bag filled with sticky tubes I have been stockpiling since sixth grade in case the antidote to nuclear holocaust really turns out to be glittery lip gloss.

It is true that I notice things about my boyfriend’s appearance and offer my generous criticism but I’ve never expected him to correct them. A small patch showing on the side of his head or the red cheeks after a night of drinking. I don’t want these things to go away, though I understand that, “oh baby, look your hair isn’t growing in right here,” would make any man put on mascara, bronzer, maybe even high heels. If he is vulnerable to appraisal, he should have access to the same weapons of camoflage that I do, right?

No. Because as much as I want a man with thick wavy hair that he can pass on to our kids, I dont want to tell those kids we are late for school because daddy is has to finish putting his face on.

I lived in Tokyo about 7 years ago where men were already wearing makeup and looking better in headbands than I ever will. And it wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t like living in the world of beautiful people you have only glimpsed on Melrose Place. It was wierd, it was awkward. What do you say when you come across some guy fixing his foundation? Do you laugh at him, or do you worry that you don’t know how to put foundation on and he knows it.

When it comes down to it, this is an issue with no wiggle room. It starts with some gel and where does it end? In your closet, or in your underwear drawer or somewhere else you don’t want to deal with.

We need it. It is one of the weapons women have developed again the inherent sexism of aging. If the day comes when ladies can be forty, overweight, balding with a penchant for Fritos and are still deemed eligible by a large swath of the population, then I will gladly hand over my compact.



Bush Hates the Kids
October 6, 2007, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Bush, health care

I thought kids were a pretty nonpartisan topic. You should help kids, people like kids. You should always save them first from a burning house and help them with their seat belts in case of an emergency landing. Your heart should be warmed by their very presence and you should make sure they have unfettered access to cookies and milk and HEALTH CARE.

Yet, in a move derided by virtually everyone, President Bush vetoed a spending increase for S-chip on Wednesday, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. His veto effectively denied almost 4 million kids access to health care. And not just any kids, poor kids. His veto was not based on the programs deficiencies, which is unilaterally considered a success, perhaps the only success in the disaster that is our health care system.

“The policies of the government ought to be, help people find private insurance, not federal coverage,” the president shuffled out as an explanation of sorts. Never mind the 10 million federal dollars a month propping up the war in Iraq. “I do want Republicans and Democrats to come together to support a bill that focuses on the poorer children, he said Wednesday.

Is Bush proposing potential children prove that they are destitute? Although I lack a background in PR, I can imagine that making enemies with the nation’s needy children ranks right up there with eating kittens and tripping old ladies.

These guys have good coverage of reaction to the president’s latest veto.

After further contemplation, I can think of only one explanation for the president’s latest debacle. Bush must be thinking of his career post-White House, host of Are you Poorer than the Average 5th Grader? Maybe thinking is too aggressive a verb.



The United States of Competitive Eating
September 18, 2007, 2:29 am
Filed under: Competitive Eating

I don’t know if it deserves a look of concern or a dismissive chuckle, but the International Federation of Competitive Eating-sanctioned Cannoli Eating contest in Little Italy last Friday was an event filled with swift succession of emotion. Amusement at the WWF-esque costumes and monikers. Surprise that the contestants were neither enormous nor endowed with preternatural incisors. Shock, concern, and biliousness all quickly followed suit.

Although it seems to be a predominately publicity-driven enterprise at the moment, the IFOCE has introduced a point system to add legitimacy to the burgeoning sport in an attempt to widen their fan base. The Federation sanctions hundreds of eating competitions a year. Pounds of fried calf brains, butter, cannoli, anything imaginable provides contestants with a chance to rack up points. At the end of the competitive season a grand contest will be held to determine……the best eater? Continue reading



Check out my Slide Show!
September 18, 2007, 2:18 am
Filed under: Competitive Eating