January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month in the United States. With all women being at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to be mindful of the health risks, symptoms, and resources available to those in need. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 12,000 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 die from it annually.

The main cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed between people through sex or any genital skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. HPV is so common that most people will have it at some point during their lives without ever developing symptoms. About 90% of cases are cleared naturally by the immune system within two years; however, there is no way of knowing which individuals will go on to develop health problems.

Some strains of HPV can cause warts around genitals or in one’s throat, while others can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal—possibly leading to cancer over time. Other factors that can

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For more than 30 years, October has been National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, second only to skin cancer. With more than 200,000 women diagnosed each year, awareness can save lives through early detection and lowering risk.

 The main risk factors of breast cancer include being a woman and being older, which means almost any woman can be diagnosed with no family history or other known risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends healthy living habits such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, getting plenty regular nighttime sleep, and avoiding carcinogens as well as to breastfeed any children one may have to reduce one’s risk to breast cancer.

 The US Preventive Service Task Force recommends that women between the ages of 50 to 74 should have a breast cancer screening called a mammogram every two years. Women in their 40s should begin consulting with a doctor about when to start

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We are now in June and summer is about to sweep across much of the US.  Over the next few months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat.  Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin—from freckles and wrinkles often associated with aging, to sunburns, benign tumors or cancerous skin lesions. Prolonged heat exposure can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death.

Although everyone should take precautions to protect their skin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer to be especially careful while in the sun.  The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage one’s skin in as little as 15 minutes, and the best tool in combatting that skin damage is sunscreen.  The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying SPF 30 (at least) liberally 15 minutes before going outside, and to reapply at least every two hours to remain protected.

To further protect your

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For Tobacco-Free Awareness Week, NeedyMeds is taking a look at the costs of a smoking habit.  Smoking certainly has a cost on public health, with nearly half a million deaths attributed to tobacco use every year.  Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as increases risk for tuberculosis, eye disease, and problems with your immune system.  Since the Surgeon General started reporting on smoking and its health impacts in 1964, 20 million people have died from smoking-related illnesses, including 2.5 million nonsmokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke.  There are also substantial financial costs. On top of the cost of cigarettes, Americans spend nearly $170 billion in health-care costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to smoking-related illnesses or premature death each year.

For someone who smokes a pack a day, one could feasibly spend between $1,600 and $3,600 on cigarettes each year (depending on the state in which one lives/buys cigarettes).  

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We are barely two weeks into 2016, and there have already been attempts to limit access to healthcare for Americans.  Last week President Obama vetoed a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) and cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  The veto marks the first time a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act has passed through Congress after more than 50 attempts. In previous blog posts, we explored how the ACA has in fact insured over 10 million people and the many services provided by Planned Parenthood to both men and women.

In the latest annual report from Planned Parenthood (2014-2015) the health impact has shown some notable declines in number of people served with cancer and/or STI screenings, likely related to the closings of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas and other states.  Abortions still only account for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. In the time covered by the report, only 43% of the Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from government

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