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Panel Discusses Growing Divide Between White And Black Health Care Access In South Carolina

We have a great story today by Andrew Doughman, GoUpstate.com, that provides readers with an overview regarding the ongoing health care access disparity between “whites” and “blacks” in South Carolina.

“African-American babies die more often than white babies. Black people in South Carolina have higher rates of HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer and diabetes than white people.”

Many of the health disparities that are mentioned in the article are not unique to South Carolina.  In fact it is far too common to read a story from another newspaper in another state with similar statistics for African Americans.

What makes this story different though is that the explanations offered by experts for why this disparity exists.  Of course many of the experts offer the usual suspects such as lack of health insurance, education and economics are all sited as the reason for the disparity.  But this story offers even more.

“Beyond education and barriers, health professionals also wrangle with history, culture and language.

“If you look back to under slavery, slave women typically would have to work almost up until the point of delivering, and they might have a little bit of time off, and then they would have to go back,” said Carmen Harris, a professor of history at USC Upstate, during an interview at an African-American history symposium at the Chapman Cultural Center earlier this month. “So there's this kind of cultural sensitization that you're not really sick unless you feel really down.”

DeLisa said that strong, historical ties to religion also keep people from seeking treatment.

“People will see signs and symptoms,” she said. “They will just pray over it and let it go.””

Interesting and thought provoking to say the very least.

What we found interesting though is that there was no discussion mentioned in the article regarding how the lack of diversity in health care providers/physicians is connected to this issue.  Diversified medical staff could actually play an important role in helping address the issues such as “history”, "culture", "language" and “religion”.  As America moves rapidly to a “majority minority” nation, we need to start making a true effort to train more African American physicians or we may not ever see these disparities disappear.

We hope that you will read and share this story with family and friends.  To read the story by Andrew Doughman, follow the link to GoUpstate.com.

Cash, Cars and Condoms. New Study Shows That African American Girls Who Depend On Boy Friend For Spending Money Less Likely To Have Safe Sex.

A new study is out by the University of Maryland that should make everyone who has a teen (or soon to be teen) daughter stop and think.  “Cash, Cars and Condoms: Economic Factors in Disadvantaged Adolescent Women’s Condom Use” shines light on how money plays a dramatic role in a teen girl’s decision to practice safe sex.

The study used data obtained from 715 African American adolescent women in urban Atlanta who had participated in an HIV prevention intervention study.  The researchers wanted to evaluate if women who received money/economic support from their boyfriend were more likely to practice unsafe sex.  So what were the results?

“A boyfriend was the primary spending money source for 24% of respondents, who did not differ in neighborhood or family context but had lower education, more abuse history, riskier sex, and more sexually transmitted infections. After propensity score weighting, no statistically significant differences for 81 evaluated covariates remained, including age distributions. Women whose boyfriend was their primary spending money source were 50% more likely never to use condoms at 6 and 12 months and less likely to respond to the intervention at 12 months. Women whose boyfriend had been their primary spending money source but found another spending money source were more likely to start using condoms than women who continued. Women whose boyfriends owned cars were more likely never to use condoms.”

This data is truly scary for these girls.  We want to point out that we believe readers should not use this study to make a conclusion that this is only an urban/poor issue.  This issue of safe sex practices cuts across socio-economic lines and we should use this study to re-enforce the need for safe sex practices with all of our children, boys and girls.

We hope that readers will share this study with their loved ones.  If you have a teen daughter make sure you sit them down and talk to them that no amount of money is worth potentially exposing themselves to sexually transmitted diseases.  Especially HIV/AIDS.

We thank Janet Rosenbaum, her research team and the University of Maryland for taking the time and resources  to review data and publish the results.  You can read the abstract of the study by following the link to the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The Stir Attack On Beyonce’s New L’Oreal TV Ad Misses The Point. The Continued Use Of Stars To Sell Toxic Cosmetics.

We can’t help but comment on the latest attack on Beyonce by Janelle Harris for The Stir.  It seems that Janelle is truly upset that in the new Ad Beyonce list her “ethnicity” as African American, Native American and French.  Janelle writes in her column that it is her belief the this L’Oreal Ad demonstrates that Beyonce is trying to dump her “African American”ness.  Ok it is Janelle’s right to think whatever she wants.  But Janelle, like so many others, misses the real concerns that ads such as Beyonce’s should be raising.

The Beyonce ad for L’Oreal continues the long tradition of beautiful and successful women being utilized by cosmetic companies to sell their products.  Stars such as Beyonce use their much coveted and protected public image to provide legitimacy to consumer products.  L’Oreal and other cosmetic companies know that women will see Beyonce in this ad and go and buy the product just because of Beyonce.

The problem that this is creating is that Beyonce and others are allowing their image to be used to promote products that are tied to serious women’s health issues such as breast cancer.  Just take a look at the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and you will see just what some of the problems are with L’Oreal’s True Match product line.  For example here is what the database says about the True Match Super-Blendable Liquid Makeup, Neutral Buff Beige:

Overall Hazard: Moderate

Cancer:  Low

Development & reproductive toxicity:  Low

Allergies & immunotoxicity:  High

Use restrictions:  Moderate

Other HIGH concerns:  Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns.

Other Moderate concerns:  Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Biochemical or cellular level changes.

Other Low concerns:  Neurotoxicity, Ecotoxciology, Data gaps, Occupational hazards.

Ok, so what chemicals are used in this True Match line?  Here is just a sample:

Methylparaben – Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reporductive), Biochemical or cellular level changes

Propylparaben - Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Ecotoxicology

So should we still believe that the most concerning thing about the Beyonce L'Oreal Ad was the words that were used on the screen?  No and we think you agree.  It is time that we stop worrying about who is saying what about themselves and start worrying about how those same people are using their image to promote products that cause serious harm to others.  We hope that Janelle, and others, will start to refocus on these real life threatening issues that deserve scrutiny.

If you would like more information on the ingredients we should all be avoiding in cosmetic products you can follow this link.

You can read Janelle’s column by following the link to The Stir.  You can visit the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Database by following the link.

New Study Shows Association Between BPA Exposure And Increased Risk Of Future Heart Disease.

A new study has been released by researchers at Peninsula College Of Medicine and Dentistry in the United Kingdom that demonstrates an association between exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA) and the development of heart disease in individuals.

“The study compared urine BPA measures from 758 initially healthy EPIC study respondents who later developed cardiovascular disease, and 861 respondents who remained heart disease free. The findings of the study show that those who developed heart disease tended to have higher urinary BPA concentrations at the start of the 10-year period. The extent of the effect is very difficult to estimate given that just one urine specimen from each participant was available for testing at the beginning of the 10-year follow-up.

Professor David Melzer of the Peninsula Medical School, who led the team, said: “This study strengthens the statistical link between BPA and heart disease, but we can’t be certain that BPA itself is responsible. It is now important that government agencies organise drug style safety trials of BPA in humans, as much basic information about how BPA behaves in the human body is still unknown.””

Before we go on our usual rant against those that continue to fight and block any attempt to regulate/ban BPA in consumer products we want to advise our readers that they should seriously consider switching away from products known to have BPA in them.  For some consumer products that is an easy task.  Most baby bottles, sippy cups and water bottles that are made from plastic have labeling that clearly states they do not contain BPA.  But BPA is used in many other food products that most consumers are not aware of.  This is especially true of canned foods.  Even those companies that make certified organic canned foods are likely to be using cans that utilize BPA in their linings.  We suggest that consumers switch to fresh or frozen foods to limit their exposure to BPA.  Ok, now we can move on to the bigger issue of why there have been limited actions by our government to protect consumers.

It seems we cannot go more than a week without some new information being made available to the public about the health risks associated with exposure to BPA.  We recently wrote about a study that demonstrated an association between BPA exposure and type 2 diabetes.  Before that it was a Harvard University study on the health risks of BPA exposure.

So you would think that with all this growing evidence about the threat of BPA to people’s health that our Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency would be moving quickly to protect consumers from any potential health risks.  Unfortunately that is the furthest thing from reality.  Instead we see press releases by our government, most recently from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stating that BPA bans adopted by nations such as France are going to hurt the profits of American corporations.

Look we understand that the chemicals and plastics industries do not want to have to stop using BPA in consumer products because it will hurt their bottom line.  What we cannot accept is the position of our government to play games on this issue to help protect those corporate profits.  The huge amounts of money being spent by corporations and trade organizations (American Chemistry Council) to lobby against any BPA ban is an insult to our democracy.  Our government is not about guaranteeing your corporate profits.  The purpose of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect consumers from harm.  If they cannot do that job then maybe we need to take a deeper look on what is happening to keep them from doing it.

We hope (we know we are crazy to even think it) that the chemicals and plastics industry, food manufactures and their trade organizations will stop their campaign to disregard and discredit growing scientific evidence regarding the health risks associated with BPA exposure and move to support BPA bans in consumer food products as were adopted by the Right of Center French government last year.  At some point they must realize that their continued denial of the health risk and their decision to keep using BPA will eventually lead to class action lawsuits similar to what we saw with the tobacco industry.  If they are truly concerned with the bottom line and protecting the investments of stock holders, then the management of these corporations has the ethical responsibility to take action now to limit future legal exposures.

We want to thank the researchers at Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry for conducting and publishing the results of this study.  It is information such as this that is necessary to ensure that consumers are protected from BPA.

You can read the media release published by Peninsula College by following this link.  You can access a PDF version of the study by following this link to Circulation, Journal Of The American Heart Association.

New Study Shows That Exposure To Phthalates In Plastics And Cosmetics Can Cause Fertility Problems For Couples.

Renee Gardner has an article today for Environmental Health News highlighting a recent study conducted in Italy that demonstrates that couples who have unsuccessfully conceived a child had much higher levels of phthalates in their bodies compared to fertile couples.

So what does that mean you ask?  It means that men and women who are using consumer products that contain phthalates, such as water bottles and cosmetics, are being exposed to a chemical that is potentially blocking their ability to have a child.

“Infertile couples are exposed to three to five times higher levels of phthalates compared to fertile couples who have naturally conceived a child, finds a study from Italy. The couples had higher levels of four different classes of phthalates in their urine, including the phthalate compound most commonly used in plastics and the compound most commonly used in cosmetics.

Phthalates can act as endocrine disrupting chemicals, mimicking or interfering with the actions of natural hormones like estrogen. Prior research shows phthalates can cause problems such as pregnancy loss and reduced litter size in rodents, though animals in these studies were exposed to levels about 100 times greater than the general population.

Phthalates are used to make vinyl plastics softer and more flexible. Di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) is the most commonly used plasticizer. This compound can be transferred to food from plastic food packaging. Adults are exposed to phthalates primarily through diet.

Other phthalates are also found in certain personal care products, such as fingernail polish, perfumes and cosmetics. Diethylphthalate (DEP) – the most frequently used phthalate in cosmetics – is found in toiletries such as soap, shampoo, and conditioners. They can be absorbed through the skin.”

Unfortunately this is not the only study to demonstrate serious health issues associated with phthalates.  Yet the plastic industry and organizations such as the American Chemistry Council continue to lobby our government to ensure that no action is ever taken to remove chemicals such as phthalates from consumer products.  At some point consumers deserve, at a minimum, the requirement of warning information about chemicals such as phthalates to be placed on products that contain them.

For those women who are concerned about their ability to conceive a child, you may want to consider the information obtained by this study and start removing products that may contain phthalates from your home.  Coily Embrace has a list of ingredients you should avoid that can be accessed by following this link.

We want to add one note here that we believe must be said.  As we all watch the political Right continue their movement to destroy a woman’s ability to control her body and make her own health decisions, we wonder why those same people continue to stay silent on issues such as these.  If they care so much about what is going on inside a woman’s reproductive organs, how can they stay silent on the growing evidence that chemicals such as phthalates are disrupting the ability to conceive?  So the Catholic Church is upset about the mandate to provide their employees access to birth control as part of their health insurance yet they say nothing about the need to remove phthalates from consumer goods.  At some point this hypocritical stance on women’s health issues needs to be exposed for what it truly is.

We thank Renee and Environmental Health News for sharing this information.  You can read the entire story by following this link to the Environmental Health News website.