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 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!



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.


The U.S. Abortion Rate Has Been Decreasing Since 2002

Baby (Santa Banta)

Baby (Santa Banta)

Abortion rates have been falling over the years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed a study last year that analyzed long-term abortion trends, spanning from 1969 to 2011.

The Declining Abortion Rate (The Atlantic)

The Declining Abortion Rate (The Atlantic)

The CDC counted 730K+ abortions in 2011, which works out to 16.9 abortions per 1K women ages 15-44. This is the lowest ratio for abortions since 1973, where 16.3 abortions were recorded for every 1K women within the aforementioned age range. The study’s abstract notes that abortions were highest among adolescents and lowest among women ages 30-39 for the duration of the study. Women in their 20s had the majority of abortions.

Researchers speculate that the decrease in abortions is linked to changing social attitudes about the practice, as well as marriage. When marriage was the socially-acceptable default setting for relationships, abortions were much more rare. But now that marriage rates have decreased, many women are choosing to terminate an unplanned pregnancy rather than have a shotgun wedding with the father.

An article on “The Atlantic” also notes that American attitudes toward abortion have shifted in recent years. While only 20% of the surveyed population would like to see the practice outlawed, 38% surveyed believe it’s “morally objectionable.” This prevailing idea is likely preventing some women from having abortions, and so carrying the fetus the term. It’s very possible that the numbers on abortion are higher than reported, due to any lingering shame or stigma (either internal or external) women who’ve gone through it may face.