How Many Women Have Breast Cancer?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emmys 2017 (Evening Standard)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emmys 2017 (Evening Standard)

Earlier this year, “Veep” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus revealed that she has breast cancer. In an Instagram post announcing her diagnosis, she noted that “1 in 8 women” receive the diagnosis. Is this number accurate?

According to data provided by BreastCancer.org and the American Cancer Society, this ratio is accurate (and the exact one cited by both websites). In 2017 alone, it’s estimated that there will be 252K+ new cases of invasive breast cancer (not counting recording cases). This number of new cases of breast cancer has risen slightly in the past few years: In 2014, 236K+ women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Estimates put deaths from the disease at around 40K+ for 2017. Death rates from the disease have been steadily declining since 1989, and have dropped 39% from 1989 to 2015.

Breast cancer is currently the most common cancer for women, regardless of race or ethnicity. However, that doesn’t mean race doesn’t factor in to surviving the disease:

While breast cancer incidence rates are highest in non-Hispanic white women, breast cancer death rates are highest in African American women.

Louis-Dreyfus has completed her second round of chemotherapy. PSA: get those mammograms!

 

 

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The U.S. Abortion Rate is at its Lowest Numbers Since 1973

Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

WASHINGTON – JANUARY 22: Pro-choice advocates participate in protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

A recent study released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest rate since 1973.

The study claims that in 2014, the abortion rate is 14.6 abortions per ever 1K women of childbearing age (defined as ages 15-44). The rate peaked at 29.3 abortions per 1K women in 1980-1981. In 2013, the abortion rate “fell below 1M for the first time since the 1970s.”

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

The study also found that 12% of clinics had at least one patient who tried to self-induce her abortion. There was no correlation between the closing of abortion clinics and more restrictive abortion laws by state. In areas where more abortion clinics opened, there was not a higher abortion rate.

There appears to be a substitution effect at work, with other birth control methods taking the place of abortion. Most notable is that of the intrauterine device (IUD), which has gained in usage over the past several years.

But why 1973? 1973 was the seminal year where the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. It’s a good sign that women are using more birth control methods and not having to rely on abortion to get rid of unintended pregnancies.

Gonorrhea Will Become Untreatable Soon

Cosmo Kramer, 'Seinfeld' (Pinterest)

Cosmo Kramer, ‘Seinfeld’ (Pinterest)

Here’s some downer news to start your day: Sexually-transmitted disease (STD) gonorrhea has become resistant to certain antibiotics.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new treatment guidelines for the STD. Gonorrhea isn’t the only STD that’s become drug-resistant; strains of chlamydia and syphilis have also begun resisting treatment.

The common STD most affects women ages 20-24, with 820K new cases throughout all demographics cropping up per year. Worldwide, 78M people contract gonorrhea each year.

Gonorrhea is becoming drug-resistant at the same time that STD rates are rising. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reported that rates of gonorrhea rose 5%+, which was the first increase in the U.S. in eight years.

The STD now cannot be treated with penicillin and doxycycline, among other drugs. The WHO estimates that completely new drugs will be needed for treatment within the next five years.

When Do Men Begin Masturbating?

Male masturbation (Lerablog)

Male masturbation (Lerablog)

Did you know that May is National Masturbation Month? Time to (officially) celebrate self-love (though I personally do every day)!

I’m always curious about the different stages of sexual initiation: first kiss, first intercourse, etc. Of course, one more milestone is the first time a person masturbates (and subsequently finds out that touching yourself feels amazing). Conventional wisdom has held that men begin masturbating in their early teens. But is this true?

Weirdly, I couldn’t find much official, hard (heh) data on this. Dr. Alfred Kinsey briefly touched on this topic (wow, I just can’t stop) and found that 92% of men reported that they had masturbated. (Interestingly, Kinsey took a deeper-dive into female masturbation. Pretty surprising for 1953!) But the stat I found didn’t delve into when the first age for masturbation for boys occurred.

I did find an informal poll on a Coachella-related message board. Here are the findings:

Masturbation poll (Coachella)

Masturbation poll (Coachella)

I have no idea how close to the sexual “norm” this is. This data is problematic for a couple of reasons: First, it’s self-reported, and the respondents could easily be lying about how old they were when they first touched themselves. Also, it’s self-selected, meaning that respondents decided of their own accord to answer the question. It’s improbable that the responses represent an even swath of people that would be comparable to that of a formal study.

Again, I’m really surprised that more research hasn’t been done on this topic. Kinsey Institute, get on this!

 

The HPV Vaccine Reduces the STD in Teen Girls by 64%

HPV vaccine (The Guardian UK)

HPV vaccine (The Guardian UK)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), and it’s estimated that most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives.

Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent the spread with the HPV vaccine. The vaccine has been around for ten years, so it’s a great time to amass some longitudinal data.

Just how effective is the HPV vaccine?

Earlier this year, “Pediatrics” released a study examining just that. Researchers looked at the HPV vaccine in teenage girls ages 14-19, and women ages 20-24. Effectiveness in the latter category resulted in a 34% decrease of the virus. That’s impressive, right? Effectiveness for teenage girls hovers around a 64% decrease. This thing is mad effective.

Obviously, the data shows that it’s best to get the HPV vaccine early in life. But unfortunately, the vaccine isn’t as widely known or used as it should be. Right now, only around 40% of teenage girls and 20% of teenage boys get the vaccine. (Yes, the vaccine is recommended for boys too.)

Getting the vaccine has ramifications beyond one’s teenage years: The virus can cause health issues such as genital warts and cancers affecting the genital areas. The HPV virus is particularly responsible for cervical cancer, which affects around 11K+ women a year.

Hopefully this data will persuade others to make getting the vaccine a top priority.

How Many American Youths Are Affected by HIV?

HIV red ribbon (Care TV)

HIV red ribbon (Care TV)

HIV can strike anyone, but it’s especially harmful for young people, as they may not know to get tested and can unknowingly pass it on to partners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 12K of youths (“youths” defined as people ages 13-24) are infected with HIV in 2010, or a rate of 1K a month. (I couldn’t find any data on how large this number has grown six years later.)

This counts for about 25% of new HIV infections. The CDC estimates that 75% of infections that youths acquire will affect young men. Young women are more likely to contract the virus through heterosexual sex at 86%, and young men are more likely to contract it through homosexual sex at 87%. About 60% of youth do not know they are infected, and can unknowingly pass the virus on to partners.

With these numbers in mind, it’s imperative that we raise awareness so those who are sexually active get tested, particularly young people.

 

 

Zika Virus Linked to Birth Defects

Mosquito (NPR)

Mosquito (NPR)

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) released a travel warning for pregnant women. They’ve issued the warning for 14 countries where the Zika virus has been confirmed to be transmitted.

Transmitted through bites of infected mosquitos, the Zika virus symptoms include fever, rashes and red eyes. It’s also been linked to birth defects.

Brazil was the first country to report birth defects linked to Zika. Specifically, the virus manifests as microcephaly, where newborns will have an unusually small head that leads to abnormal brain development. Over 2.4K cases of newborns affected by Zika were recorded in 2015, up from only 147 cases in 2014. This was a 1,532%+ year-over-year increase.

And the U.S. is no longer exempt from Zika’s reach: A baby with microcephaly was confirmed to have the virus. The baby was born in Hawaii last week.