Thursday, March 25, 2010

1/3 of Breast Cancer could be prevented (and probably more): UPDATED

While skimming the health news on FoxNews, I came across this article, and considering today is the Feast of the Annunciation (Happy Feast Day!), I thought it appropriate to address a pressing issue in woman's general and reproductive health:

Experts: One-Third of Breast Cancer is Avoidable

Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a breast cancer conference said Thursday — comments that could ignite heated discussions among victims and advocates....
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. In Europe, there were about 421,000 new cases and nearly 90,000 deaths in 2008, the latest available figures. The United States last year saw more than 190,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths. A woman's lifetime chance of getting breast cancer is about one in eight.
Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. So experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she's likely to produce, which could in turn spark breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more of the body's fat into muscle.
Any discussion of weight and breast cancer is a politically sensitive topic, for some may misconstrue that as the medical establishment blaming victims for getting breast cancer. Victims themselves could also feel guilty, wondering just how much a factor weight played in their getting the disease.
Ian Manley, a spokesman for Breast Cancer Care, a British charity, said his agency has always been very careful about issuing similar lifestyle advice.
"We would never want women to feel responsible for their breast cancer," he said. "It's a complex disease and there are so many factors responsible that it's difficult to blame it on one specific issue."
The first issue to be addressed is the idea of responsibility.  If 1/3 of the cases of breast cancer are related to exercise and diet, then yes, women do need to take responsibility for their actions.  This is no different than the same responsibility we would put upon a smoker or excessive drink in the development of numerous cancers.  We do not need to be mean or harsh about it, but we do need to emphasize that our patients have a role in the development of some of these diseases.  We must encourage them to make appropriate lifestyle decisions that will help to eliminate some of these variables as potential causes.

The second issue I have with this article is the lack of discussion on oral contraception and breast cancer.
After studies several years ago linked hormone replacement therapy to cancer, millions of women abandoned the treatment, leading to a sharp drop in breast cancer rates. Experts said a similar reduction might be seen if women ate better — consuming less fat and more vegetables — and exercised more.
 If women stopped using oral contraception, could you imagine the drop in breast cancer rates?  It is very sad that main stream medicine and the media will not recognize the link between breast cancer and oral contraception.  Until that day, we will be fighting a losing battle in the prevention of breast cancer.  So when this issue comes up in class or the clinic, do not be afraid of the truth.  It just might save a woman's life.

For the most recent article on the topic visit

UPDATE Another FoxNews article on breast cancer and pregnancy has me riled up again.  This time, the article focuses on the fact that pregnancy is SAFE for breast cancer survivors.  This is not what is frustrating, rather it is what aspect of the findings that are emphasized.  Here is the first part of the story: 

Pregnancy Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors

Women who have been treated for breast cancer can have babies without increasing their risk of dying from their cancer, according to research published by The Times Friday.
Studies being presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona suggest that pregnancy may even have a protective effect.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not advise against pregnancy, but recommends that women wait for up to five years after treatment, depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer, to allow assessment of long-term survival from the cancer.
A meta-analysis of 14 trials, carried out by researchers from Belgium and Italy, shows that pregnancy is safe for breast cancer survivors. It covered trials that had taken place between 1970 and 2009, involving 1417 pregnant women with a history of breast cancer and 18,059 women with a history of breast cancer who were not pregnant.
Hatem Azim, of the Institute Jules Bordet in Brussels, said that the findings did not support the notion that hormonal changes associated with pregnancy could prompt a cancer to recur or become more aggressive.
This, of course is good news!  We want women who are breast cancer survivors to be able to have children and go on to have a full family life.  It is the next paragraph that frustrates me. (emphasis mine)
The analysis actually suggested that patients who became pregnant after a diagnosis of breast cancer had a reduction of 42 percent in the risk of death compared with those who did not get pregnant, Azim said.
A breast cancer survivor REDUCES her risk of death by 40% by having a child!  What amazing and wonderful news!  And yet, the reason why I am frustrated is because this paragraph is not the headline.  Think of how pro-life and pro-family this story could have been if the headline read something like "BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS REDUCE RISK OF DEATH 40% BY HAVING CHILDREN"

But of course, in our anti-family and anti-woman society, we cannot openly promote women having children because we don't want to 'overpopulate the world' or create 'burdens on women'. Instead of conforming to these ideas,  Let us continue to promote the truth in regards to God's design:  Children make women healthier! 

In Christ

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform: A Catholic Medical Student's Perspective

I am sad.  Heartbroken, really.  I followed much of the discussion and debate this weekend and I was saddened to watch the will of the American people be thwarted by ideaology.  As a medical student, I am somewhat fearful nad uncertain of what the future of the profession holds.  Will this be a satisfying job? Or will I be weighed down by beauracracy and lose the ability to practice medicine as a Catholic physician?  There are many unanswered questions, and only time will truly tell how all of this will turn out.  One of the blessings of being Catholic is that I know that God is bigger than all of this.  We may be entering into a dark time in American history, or we may be seeing the darkness before the coming dawn.  The American people are fired up about this issue and I do not believe that fire will die out any time soon.  As Catholics, we have an opportunity to use that energy to fight for the repeal of this law and the implementation of true reform that will bring authentic, affordable health care to the American people.  There are so many things wrong with this bill beyond just the federal funding of abortion (no executive order can stop that).  This bill we cripple this country economically, destroy the patient-physician relationship, and horribly violates the principle of subsidiary.  However, as Catholics, we must first set our own house in order.

This is the time in which we must reclaim our Catholic identity.  This past week we watched as the Catholic Health Association and 59 leaders of women religious from around this country came out in support of the health care bill.  This was in direct opposition to the voices of both individual bishops and the USCCB as a whole who came out strongly against this bill until the very end.  This division within the Church has sown great confusion among Catholics and Non-Catholics.  I have had many non catholic friends come up to me and ask about this situation.  It almost feels as if we are to blame for not taking a stronger stand.  I know this is not completely true.  However, we have a mess that needs to be cleaned up.  In order to have the strength to over turn this egregious law, we must recapture our Catholic identity and make it known we will not stand for this law.  The time is now to renew our faith, to pray fervently, to frequent the Sacraments and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.  We must be strengthened individually and as a Church in our faith and go forth and fight the good fight for what is right and good and true.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Message from the Catholic Medical Association

March 18 Health Care Legislation Alert!
Dear CMA Members:
Starting on Monday of this week with the Catholic Health Association, a number of real and self-described Catholics have launched an all-out blitz against the U.S. bishops and in favor of Democrat health care legislation. These groups have targeted Catholic and pro-life legislators, telling them that the Senate bill (which the House of Representatives must pass unchanged) does not provide federal funding of abortion and/or, even if it does, the need for change is so great that legislators should support it anyway.
You can read some of their statements, and the CMA response, in our just released Statement on Health Care Reform and Authentic Catholic Witness.
Others have mounted a strong response as well:
  • Faithful American women religious have posted their own statement of support for Catholic bishops and authentic health care reform
  • The USCCB has exposed the fraudulent claims of one group of women religious
  • The Vatican has issued  a statement upholding the teaching authority of the bishops
  • Individual U.S. bishops have issued strong statements of condemnation and calls for retraction and repentance, including Archbishops Chaput and Naumann, and Bishop Finn.
Please distribute this action alert, and/or the CMA statement, to your colleagues, family, friends pastor, and local bishop.
Let us redouble our prayers and work together to achieve authentic health care reform.
Saints Patrick and Joseph, pray for us!
John F. Brehany, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Executive Director and Ethicist

Ite Ad Joseph!

Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph!

On this day, let us beseech the intercession of St. Joseph that the will of Christ may be done in this country, particularly in regards to health care reform:

Litany of St. Joseph
V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.
V/ Christ, have mercy.
R/ Christ, have mercy.

V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.

V/ Jesus, hear us.
R/ Jesus, graciously hear us.

V/ God, the Father of Heaven,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ God, the Holy Spirit,
R/ have mercy on us.

V/ Holy Trinity, One God,
R/ have mercy on us.

 R/for ff: pray for us.
Holy Mary,
St. Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched,
Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
R/ have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of his household.
R/ And prince over all his possessions.

 Let us pray. O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You who live and reign forever and ever. R/ Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pray and Pray Hard

As we come down to the end (hopefully) of this health care debate, this is the time to step up the prayers that this bill will fail.  I want to see health care reform just as much as the next individual, but this bill is not the answer.  As Catholics, let us stand with the Bishops in opposition of a bill that is anti-life, violates the freedom of conscience for providers, and is economically harmful.  If this bill passes nearly half of physicians in practice will leave health care.  There are numerous objections and the politics behind this bill are disgusting.  So I beg and urge you to pray that the Lord's will be done and that the unborn will be protected.

Hopefully more to follow....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Prenatal Testing- The continuation of the Eugenics movement

In the arena of prenatal care, there is one topic that perhaps is not discussed enough.  Prenatal screening has major ethical ramifications, typically ignored by many individuals in medicine.  Any tests performed, whether it is ultrasound or genetic, are not immoral in and of themselves, but rather the moral issue arises in what we do with the information obtained.  Given the information, there are three possible uses for it:
1) The parents use that information to prepare themselves for a child with a specific condition.  This may include spiritual and emotional preparation, as well as lining up the proper care once the child is born.
2) The doctors may be able to use the information to treat the child in utero.  With advances in microsurgery, there are cases of spina bifida being treated at an early age to increase the child's survival and quality of life.
3) The last option is the final option.  Abortion.  The information obtained can be used to make a decision as to whether to kill the child or not.

It is this last option that is the most common and most horrific.  Take for instance Down's Syndrome.  A recent BMJ article states "Around 92% of women who received an antenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome decided to terminate the pregnancy, and this proportion was constant throughout the period covered by the register."  For many of us, this may be something we were already aware of.  Yet, it is still horrific.  Down's Syndrome is not a death sentence, rather there are many individuals who are able to live happy and productive lives.  If any of you have had the blessing to know or work with an individual with Down's, you know that they are some of the most innocent and friendly individuals you may encounter.   So the question is, why are 9 out of 10 fetuses diagnosed with Down's terminated?  The answer: Eugenics.

Our society despises imperfection, at least, what they perceive to be imperfection.  This is especially true in regards to children.  Every family wants the 'perfect' child, and so any indication of disease, whether present or potential,  raises the specter of termination.  For many diseases, termination of a pregnancy is considered acceptable medical practice, and in many instances, is encouraged by physicians.  What does this say about those individuals in society who live with these diseases or disabilities?  What are we telling them when we are willing to kill off other people like them in the womb?  In my own opinion, this would seem to show a devaluing of their dignity and integrity.  We are telling them they are something less and don't deserve to live and the fact that they are alive is a mistake. 

When we are willing to kill off the 'imperfect' child, we are practicing eugenics, plain and simple. 

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bishops Say "Pelosi Is Wrong"

Nancy Pelosi has been telling some whoppers of late, namely that the current health care legislation does not fund abortions.  She is even claiming that she is following the guidelines of the Bishops...well, the USCCB has responded.  From Catholic World News:

Health-care proposal does fund abortion, says spokesman for US bishops March 02, 2010

A spokesman for the US bishops' conference has flatly contradicted the claim by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that the health-care reform plan now under discussion on Capitol Hill would not provide subsidies for abortion.
Pelosi had claimed:“There is no federal funding of abortion in this bill." She "talked to the Catholic bishops" about the issue, the Speaker said, explaining that the legislation does not alter current policies regarding abortion coverage."
Responding to a query from CNSNews, Richard Doerflinger, the associate director of the US bishops' pro-life office, countered: "We do not know how anyone who has spoken to the bishops could conclude that the Senate health care bill does not fund abortions."
Pro-life groups have consistently pointed out that the bill advanced by the White House would provide taxpayer subsidies for abortion in several different ways. The National Right to Life Committee described the White House proposal as "the most expansively pro-abortion bill ever brought to the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade. The group's analysis noted that the legislation "would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion on demand (including some federally administered plans), and would authorize federal mandates that would require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion."
The latest letter to Congress from leaders of the US bishops' conference called for passage of a reform plan that would protect human life from conception to natural death. The letter did not address the merits of any particular piece of legislation.
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Please, take the time to contact your congressmen and senators, and tell them this is unacceptable!