Newsletter

Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to editor@nwhn.org.

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Applause—and Reservations—for Newly Approved Version of the Pill

November/December 2003

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new version of the oral contraceptive pill that changes a woman's bleeding pattern to produce only four "periods" each year. Marketed under the brand name Seasonale, the new pill is the first product approved for this combination of contraception and menstrual suppression.

Childhood Obesity and Women's Health

November/December 2003

We're pleased to be able to offer you two thought-provoking articles on childhood obesity. Why would a women's health newsletter address this issue? The Network believes that the current focus on childhood obesity has implications for the health of women, and that it is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be a good thing for programs to spotlight the role of the food industry in creating a heavier and less healthy population, including children, especially if those programs advocate for policies that create change in the environment.

Idealism and the Intern: Women's Health Care in a Perfect World

July/August 2003

by Carmel Aronson

Last summer, after experiencing the sophomore academic crisis that strikes so often at nontraditional liberal arts colleges, I began looking for an internship in the field of feminist health care. After years of study in the matter, I wanted some hands-on experience in the topic about which I felt most passionate. I came across the National Women's Health Network by accident but was so inspired by its mission statement that I decided to apply to its internship program.

Not Feminist, but Not Bad: Cuba's Surprisingly Pro-Woman Health System

July/August 2003

by Eileen Schnitger and Christina Romero

In April, Women's Health Specialists sent two representatives to Cuba to explore health care and other aspects of everyday life for women there. As a feminist organization that strives to empower women to make their own medical decisions, we would seem an unlikely match for a country whose policies are famously top-down, with little tolerance for decision-making at the individual level. But we were impressed by much of what we saw.

The Backlash Against the WHI: Myths and Facts About Menopause Hormone Therapy

May/June 2003

Since the initial results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) were published last July, defenders of menopause hormone therapy have claimed that the study's conclusions are faulty because of flaws in the design of the trial. This backlash is based on a number of myths being propagated by spokespeople for Wyeth, which manufactures Premarin, as well as by other hormone defenders in the ob-gyn community.

Advocates, Industry Await PDA Response on Direct-to-Consumer Drug Marketing

May/June 2003

In a decision that could have significant consequences for public health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering revisions to the rules governing drug labeling and marketing. Given the Bush administration's record, public health advocates are concerned that the agency will accede to drug makers' demands for further curbs on its oversight authority, setting the stage for more debacles along the lines of menopause hormone therapy and the misinformation that steered millions of women to take it for years.

Hormones on Trial: Latest WHI Findings Expose More Manufacturer Myths

May/June 2003

Last summer the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shattered millions of women's illusions about hormone replacement therapy's long-term effects, by revealing that hormones increase women's risk for breast cancer, stroke, blood clots and heart attacks. In March, the WHI shattered any remaining illusions when it announced that hormone therapy's alleged short-term benefits— relief from depression and memory loss, and greater vitality and sexual satisfaction— are largely bunk as well.

Early Options Gaining Ground: Q&A on Medical Abortion With Dr. Elizabeth Newhall

March/April 2003

Interview byArielle Lutwick

In September 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the drug also known as RU486, for medical (non-invasive) early abortion. Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is needed fora pregnancy to continue. When used in conjunction with another drug, misoprostol, the method is effective for ending unwanted pregnancy between 92 and 98 percent of the time.

Heart Disease: What Can You Do?

March/April 2003

What else can women do to prevent heart disease? The Network gets this question often in the aftermath of the Women's Health Initiative, which found conclusively that hormone replacement therapy is not effective in reducing a woman's risk of developing heart disease. We've written this article to share what is currently known about heart disease, and to encourage women to take sensible steps to reduce their own risk of developing the disease.

Number-One Killer: But When?

French Women's Magazines Sever Tobacco Ties

March/April 2003

A unique government-media initiative in France aims to wipe women's magazines clean of glamorous images of smoking. "Smoke-Free Women" ("Femmes Sans Fumee") targets the estimated 28 percent of French women who smoke regularly. Through it, leading publications including Marie Claire, Elle, Prima, Cote Femme and Madams Figaro pledge not to run editorial content depicting tobacco in a positive light, as well as to:

Operation Medicaid: the War on Women

January/February 2003

by Georgana Hanson 

Improving Access to Emergency Contraception

November/December 2002

by Regan Murphy and Amy Allina

Advocates Burn While Administration Fiddles on FDA Appointment

November/December 2002

Reproductive rights advocates nationwide were alarmed in October by news reports that President Bush had selected Dr. W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (PDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Hager is a practicing obstetrician- gynecologist, and sources told Time magazine that in his private practice he does not prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. He is also the author of a book suggesting that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome seek help by reading the Bible and praying.

Women’s Health Snapshots: Lupus

November/December 2002

Deaths from lupus have risen significantly in the past 20 years, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC review of lupus deaths from 1979-1998 found an increase from 879 in 1979 to 1,406 in 1998. The increase was most prominent—70 percent—for African American women ages 45 to 64. Lupus is most common in women and often most severe in African American women.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 3, 2002

Date Published: 
Mon, November 04, 2002

Tamoxifen Linked to Rare Form of Uterine Cancer

November/December 2002

By Cindy Pearson
Long-time newsletter readers know that tamoxifen can cause cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer), and for that and other reasons the Network opposes its widespread use in healthy women. However, a new analysis of several large studies of tamoxifen confirms that it also causes a much rarer and more deadly form of cancer of the uterus.

Date Published: 
Mon, November 04, 2002

Study Refutes Link Between Oral Contraceptives and Breast Cancer

November/December 2002

By Cindy Pearson

Date Published: 
Mon, November 04, 2002