2006 Women’s Health Highlights

The year 2006 marked milestones and significant developments in women’s health news. Excerpts from an interview with Julie Abbott, M.D., medical editor of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource and a preventive medicine specialist, highlight recent women’s health developments and some goals for 2007 in the newsletter’s January issue. Some of those highlights are:

Sexually transmitted diseases:

New in 2006 was the licensing of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which will ultimately help prevent cervical cancer. The year also marked the 25th anniversary of AIDS. Both are reminders that women need to be concerned about preventing sexually transmitted diseases and taking responsibility for their health as it pertains to sexual activity.

Breast imaging:

Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) drew attention in 2006 as ways to help diagnose breast cancer and that’s exciting news. But women are still not taking full advantage of standard screening technology namely mammography.

Women over the ages of 50 and 60 are not getting mammograms as frequently as women in their 40s, yet mammograms are more effective in reducing deaths from breast cancer as women age.

Heart disease prevention:

Possible heart disease predictors such as C-reactive protein, lipoprotein (a), fibrinogen and homocysteine have been touted in many medical publications as helping to estimate cardiovascular risks more accurately. But further analysis has shown that the long well-established risk factors elevated blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, excess weight, a sedentary lifestyle are nearly as precise in predicting this disease risk. According to Dr. Abbott, if we were able to optimally manage all we know about prevention, we would be able to prevent half of all the deaths in the United States. That’s a profound statistic, one that shows how pursuing a healthy lifestyle continues to be a powerful weapon in the arsenal against disease.

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