An Orange a Day?

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A new study suggests women who don’t get enough vitamin C may be prone to gall bladder disease. "For women with very low vitamin C intakes, approximately one large orange per day could raise their vitamin C blood levels by 0.5 mg/dL," said Dr. Joel Simon, the lead author of the study that examined 13,130 men and women in the United States. A 0.5 mg/dL increase was associated with an approximately 13 percent lower prevalence of gallstones in women. Gallstones can form when bile, a liquid produced by the liver to help break down fats during digestion, becomes oversaturated with cholesterol.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine (April, 2000)


Kids Pay Price for Dirty Environment

Children are paying the price for lax environmental regulations, says a comprehensive report released by environmentalists and doctors. The study by the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Ontario College of Family Physicians concludes that children's health is being "measurably compromised" by the failure of governments to protect the environment. The 500-page Environmental Standard Setting and the Children's Healthis only available through the Internet at: www.cela.ca

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine (April, 2000)


Sex and Reproductive Strategy Needed: Planned Parenthood

The Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (PPFC) has launched a postcard campaign to pressure the federal government to develop a national strategy to improve the sexual and reproductive health of Canadians. The call comes after Health Canada’s release of a Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health appears to have been put on the shelf after its release last December.

"The government has spent countless taxpayer dollars to develop this framework," says the PPFC, "What is needed now is a strategy to address the problems identified in the report, such as rising rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections." Electronic postcards can be sent to the federal Minister of Health from the PPFC web site: www.ppfc.ca. Copies of the report can be ordered from Health Canada at (613) 954-5995. If you’d like to see the full report made available on the Internet, e-mail Allan Rock at minister@www.hc-sc.gc.ca. For more information, print postcards and sample letters, contact:

Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada Tel: (613) 241-4474 Fax: (613) 241-7550 E-mail: admin@ppfc.ca


Power Camp

Power Camp, a camp for girls 11 to 15 at the University of Ottawa, offers a unique experience to young women looking for a summer adventure that’s a little out of the ordinary. The program is designed specifically to meet the needs of young women. The energetic program explores creativity, the outdoors, community issues, group discussions and self-expression. There’s a lot of things to talk about – media images of women and men, career ideas and peer pressure. A typical two-week session might include: hiking and swimming, self-defence and bike repair workshops, creative movement and video arts. For more information, and summer 2000 session details, contact:

Power Camp Tel: (613) 562-5119 E-mail: powercmp@storm.ca or rlepine@uottawa.ca


Much Ado About Cutting

Episiotomy should not be a routine part of labour and delivery according to a clinical commentary in Obstetrics & Gynecology. The April 2000 commentary, by Erica Eason (University of Ottawa) and Perle Feldman (McGill University in Toronto), questions the procedure thought to prevent maternal pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and hard-to-heal tears.

They cite numerous short- and long-term studies that reveal that for certain maternal conditions women without episiotomies fared as well or better than women who received episiotomies. These women had the strongest pelvic floors and were therefore less likely to end up with a worse prolapse (displacement of genital organs). Women with intact perineums (the skin between the anus and vulva) experienced less blood loss, risk of infection and perineal pain after delivery. There were no differences in incidence of urinary incontinence. As well, studies on the development of infants delivered after an extended second stage of labour compared with those delivered after an episiotomy report no significant differences in infant outcome. This in spite of the widely held belief that a prolonged labour leads to birth trauma, cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders in the infant. The authors added that the medical profession should abandon conventional teaching that a longer second stage of labour and perineal stretching are harmful. For more information, contact : Erica Eason, MCDM, FRCSC E-mail: eeason@ogh.on.ca


Brigit’s Notes

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Research Highlight:

Media Literacy and the Prevention of Eating Disorders Researcher: Marie Hoskins, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria In short: Although there are several informative quantitative studies on the issue of eating disorders among girls and women, there are few studies that analyze this major health problem from women’s perspective, and particularly, that use adolescent girls as valuable sources of knowledge. For the most part, women’s and girls’ voices are absent from psychological and medical analysis when attempting to understand the relationship between the media, eating disorders, and the self. This study intends to uncover some of the missing pieces of what has become a complex phenomenon among women and girls.

More information on the study is available from: The BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health E311-4500 Oak Street Vancouver BC V6H 3N1 Tel: (604) 875-2633 E-mail: bccewh@bccewh.ca www.bccewh.bc.ca


Research Institute Update

The struggle continues to get a women’s health research institute named in the newly developed Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). While the governing body of the CIHR left a women’s health research institute off their top-ten list of recommended institutes, there is still hope that the federal Minister of Health, Allan Rock, will name a women’s health research institute sometime this year. The Canadian Womens Health Network (CWHN) sent out information packages in April alerting our readers to a new development in health research that might leave women out in the cold (yet again). Since then, the CWHN received copies of several hundred letters to Rock asking him to support a women’s health research institute. If you haven’t sent yours in yet, you can find a sample letter and more information on-line at: www.cwhn.ca/cihr, or by contacting the CWHN toll-free at 1-888-818-9172.