Tag Archives: health

It’s STD Awareness Month–Do you know where your junk’s been?

17 Apr

Alternate Title: Check yo self before you wreck yo self

Happy STD Awareness Month, everyone!  Even though we all know that we should be aware of our sexual health every month, let’s pay really close attention this month.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, people age 15-24 are responsible for almost half of new STD (also referred to as STI–Sexually Transmitted Infection) cases every year.  There could be a few reasons for this:

1) We’re having more sex, with more people, than our older counterparts.  Stands to reason that mathematical chance alone would account for some of the higher prevalence.

2) We’re not given the information or tools necessary to take charge of our own health.  Take sex ed, for example.  Only 21 states mandate sex ed in schools, and many teens are still having to sit through medically inaccurate, BS abstinence-only lessons.  As far as access to services, every state theoretically allows teens to consent to sexual health care, but barriers still exist.  The recent firestorm in Springfield over the School Committee’s decision to allow condom access and education for students illustrates the overwhelming resistance to acknowledging the sexual health needs of teens and young adults.  The problem with shooing teen sex under the rug is that not addressing an issue doesn’t make it not exist.

3) We’re being stupid.  Even with information and access, some people still choose to engage in unsafe behavior, or behavior that puts their partner(s) in an unsafe position.  That is just nonsense; stop it.  I recently read an article in which the author bragged about lying to her gyno.  What!?  I mean, I know doctors can be somewhat intimidating (especially if you’re in the younger end of that 15-24 age bracket), but come on.  Would you lie to your PCP about flu symptoms or to your dermatologist about a mole?

Bottom line: get tested, get vaccinated, and get a condom before you get it on.

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A Cure for Georgia’s Yellow Fever

23 Mar

The last week has had folks in the south walking around looking like Big Bird, and sneezing our heads off.  The cause?  The heaviest pollen season we’ve had in over a decade.  According to Accuweather, Atlanta’s pollen count on Monday March 19th was 8,164 particles of pollen per cubic meter of air – a thirty-five percent increase over the previous record.

And Georgians are feeling it.  Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, coughing, exacerbated asthma – we’re like a walking Zyrtec commercial.  Anything left outside becomes encrusted with a greenish-yellow, sickly-sweet layer of pollen.  But before turning to pharmaceutical drugs, consider this delicious solution: honey!  Raw, unpasteurized honey from one’s local climate contains pollen that has already been processed by bees (thank you, bees!).  When getting acclimatized to a new or blooming environment, this can be helpful for the body to adapt to the local flora and its allergens.

So drizzle it on your cereal, in your tea, on your peanut butter sandwiches, in your springtime cocktail – wherever!  Raw, local honey makes a helpful addition to many meals, and nearly any dessert.

But as always, be a wary consumer.  Food Safety News reports (FSN) that up to three-quarters of the honey sold in supermarkets has had its pollen content removed.  Though the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the bee by-product must retain its pollen content to be considered honey, the FDA doesn’t screen products for pollen.  FSN also unhived a host of other issues with imported honey from China and India containing unsafe levels of antibiotics, and lack of inspection of honeys sold on big chain’s shelves.

So make sure your honey is local and raw, and enjoy it in some lemonade on these ever-warmer days.

Because the other thing we need to talk about is that this pollen crisis is almost certainly linked to climate change.

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Find out what the buzz is about other bee by-products like propolis from the team at Goop.

Just two things: A quick lesson for Komen

3 Feb

Well, it’s been a whirlwind week in women’s health indignation.  To recap briefly: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, self-proclaimed “global leader of the breast cancer movement” (roll eyes here), decided early this week to sever ties with Planned Parenthood.  Immediately, outrage and backlash against this unwise, politically suspicious move proliferated across social media (TMMV’s twitter and my personal Facebook page included), and even reached NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s pockets.

As a result of all the bad press, Komen decided to back-track.  Trying to save face, they came out with an apology statement today, in which they reinstituted ties to PP and promised to “amend” their policies.

While I’m glad that Planned Parenthood will not lose those much-needed funds, there’s still a lot of BS that Komen needs to be called on.  To start, Komen would benefit from learning two simple things:

  • The definition of pinkwashing.  Pinkwashing (n):  A term used to describe companies that position themselves as leaders in the fight against breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.  That perfume that Komen was hawking?  Filled with phthalates.  That cute lipstick with the pink ribbon on the cap?  Probably contains some lead.
  • The fact that health–especially women’s health–is political.  That concept is often lost in the sea of pink, but you can’t deny it.  So when Komen issues statements that say things like “We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics,” they sound more than a little naive.  And by naive, I mean clueless.

Truth is, Komen is the global leader of the breast cancer “movement.”  The foundation has a big voice in the national conversation about women’s health, and has the ability to steer the discourse toward one of genuine empowerment.  We need better preventive health care; we need better health policy.  What we don’t need is another bag of pink M&Ms.

Cold MOvember rain?

30 Nov

As Movember comes to an end, I just want to take a minute to thank all the men who grew some awesomely badass facial hair to raise awareness about/funds for men’s health issues.  For one thing, I just dig hairy dudes.

Also, cancer just sucks.  Plain and simple.  Prostate cancer (the main focus of Movember efforts) will kill almost 35,000 men in the U.S. this year.  All types of cancer will kill almost 600,000 (men and women).  To call cancer devastating would be an understatement.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.  [Admittedly, I do have some issues with “awareness campaigns”–are they really that effective, or do they just distract us from real activism?  Will posting your bra color  in your Facebook status really do anything to help “Save the Tatas”? I doubt it.  Will staches “save the prostate”? No. ]  So, yea, we’re not going to cure cancer by laughing at it, or sporting hipster mustaches.  But I do think that there is some medicinal value in laughter, both for those engaged in a “battle of wills with a murderous tumor” and those suffering with them.  And, while the funds raised by Fu Manchus pale in comparison to the millions more needed, at least it’s something.

So once again, thanks for reminding us that the face of cancer can take many different forms, hirstute or not.  I think I’m gonna miss seeing sweet facial hair every day.  I may just have to take a trip to Allston for a fix…

Sidenote: I’d be all over not shaving my legs for a month, for a good cause.  If you want to make a pledge, let me know.