What is Cervical Health Awareness Month?
The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests).
During January, NCCC and its many local chapters across the country highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection. While NCCC chapters host events throughout the year, January is a month with a special focus as chapters celebrate Cervical Health Awareness Month and work to spread the word in their communities.
NCCC and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) also offer a range of resources (listed below) to educate the public and healthcare providers about cervical health, from fact sheets to episodes of ASHA’s Sex+Health podcast.
What Can You Do?
As someone who is interested in educating and advocating for increased knowledge of cervical cancer and HPV disease, you can do a lot. You can contact your local media to encourage coverage of Cervical Health Awareness Month, offering this ASHA/NCCC press release. You can also send this proclamation to your mayor, or local legislative office to publicly recognize Cervical Health Awareness Month.
You can also check out the resources on this page, from fact sheets to episodes of ASHA’s Sex+Health podcast, to educate yourself and others. Download, display and distribute our cervical cancer awareness month posters and help NCCC and ASHA get the word out on social media.
Promote Cervical Health on Social Media
You can help NCCC promote the importance of cervical health and cervical cancer prevention by sharing prevention messages throughout the month. You can also join our Cervical Health Month Thunderclap campaign (all you have to do is click) to help us shout out that cervical cancer is preventable!
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight stealing disease.
Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness, and it is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision.
Six Simple Ways to Pamper Your Peepers.
- Read in good light. Dim light won’t hurt your eyes but can tire them more quickly.
- If it bothers your eyes to watch television in a dark room, keep a light on.
- If you have glasses or contacts, use them. You won’t have to strain so hard to see.
- Use an anti-glare filter on your computer monitor.
- Position the monitor so it’s at or just below eye level and a little farther away than you’d hold a book while reading.
- Take frequent breaks from whatever you’re doing to give your eye muscles a rest.
Glaucoma Facts and Statistics
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.
The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages.
Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.
There is no cure for glaucoma-yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease. Watch a video from the research scientists working to find a cure.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angleclosure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.
Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.
WHAT IS STALKING?
While legal definitions of stalking vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States.
- 15% of women and 6% of men have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know: 61% of female victims and 44% of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, 25% of female victims and 32% of male victims are stalked by an acquaintance.
- About half of all victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25. About 14% of female victims and 16% of male victims experienced stalking between the ages of 11 and 17.
- Approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim didn’t want them to be there; making unwanted telephone calls; leaving the victim unwanted messages (text or voice); and watching or following the victim from a distance, or spying on the victim with a listening device, camera, or global positioning system were the most commonly reported stalker tactics by both female and male victims of stalking. [Matthew J. Breiding et al., “Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, Vol. 63, No. 8 (2014)] • 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
- 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
[Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).]
STALKING: MYTHS & FACTS
MYTH: You can’t be stalked by someone you’re dating. FACT: If your “friend” tracks your every move in a way that causes you fear, that is stalking.
FACT: If your “friend” tracks your every move in a way that causes you fear, that is stalking.
MYTH: Technology is too expensive and confusing for most stalkers to use. FACT: Stalkers can buy easy-to-use surveillance equipment for as little as $30.
FACT: Stalkers can buy easy-to-use surveillance equipment for as little as $30.
MYTH: If you confront the stalker, he or she will go away. FACT: Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous. Get help.
FACT: Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous. Get help.
[Katrina Baum et al., “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).]
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland plays a huge role in our body, influencing the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body’s overall well-being.
When Things Go Wrong
The HPT axis is a highly efficient network of communication. Normally, the thyroid doles out just the right amount of hormone to keep your body running smoothly. TSH levels remain fairly constant, yet they respond to the slightest changes in T4 levels and vice versa. But even the best networks are subject to interference.
When outside influences such as disease, damage to the thyroid or certain medicines break down communication, your thyroid might not produce enough hormone. This would slow down all of your body’s functions, a condition known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. Your thyroid could also produce too much hormone sending your systems into overdrive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. These two conditions are most often features of an underlying thyroid disease.
When considering thyroid disease, doctors ask two main questions: First, is the thyroid gland inappropriately producing an abnormal amount of thyroid hormone? And second, is there a structural change in the thyroid, such as a lump—known as a nodule —or an enlargement—known as a goiter? Though one of these characteristics does not necessarily imply that the other is present, many thyroid disorders display both.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease. Thyroid disease is a fact of life for as many as 30 million Americans – and more than half of those people remain undiagnosed. Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone). Aging is just one risk factor for hypothyroidism.
How important is my thyroid in my overall well-being?
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which controls virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can produce too much thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to speed up (hyperthyroidism); or it can create too little thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to slow down (hypothyroidism).
Untreated thyroid disease may lead to elevated cholesterol levels and subsequent heart disease, as well as infertility and osteoporosis. Research also shows that there is a strong genetic link between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases, including types of diabetes, arthritis and anemia.
Simply put, if your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.
How do you know if you have a thyroid problem?
First, you must understand how to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of thyroid disease. Since many symptoms may be hidden or mimic other diseases and conditions, the best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor for a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test to verify your thyroid gland’s condition. Also, take a minute and perform a self Neck Check. And because thyroid disease often runs in families, examinations of your family members and a review of their medical histories may reveal other individuals with thyroid problems.
What are some of the reasons to consider a thyroid evaluation?
Family history: A familiar place to look for thyroid disorder signs and symptoms is your family tree. If you have a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) with thyroid disease, you would benefit from thyroid evaluation. Women are much more likely to be thyroid patients than men; however, the gene pool runs through both.
Prescription medications: If you are taking Lithium or Amiodarone, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.
Radiation therapy to the head or neck: If you have had any of the following radiation therapies, you should consider a thyroid evaluation: radiation therapy for tonsils, radiation therapy for an enlarged thymus, or radiation therapy for acne.
Chernobyl: If you lived near Chernobyl at the time of the 1986 nuclear accident, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.
Excerpted from The Harvard Medical School Guide to Overcoming Thyroid Problems by Dr. Jeffrey R. Garber, published by McGraw-Hill.
Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. While many unknown factors play a role in birth defects occurrence, steps can be taken to help prevent or limit certain risks for birth defects, such as exposure to chemicals in the home or at work, use of alcohol and street drugs, a lack of folic acid in a woman’s diet, lack of prenatal care, and infections during pregnancy.
- Every 4 ½ minutes, a U.S. baby is born with a birth defect. Birth defects are a leading cause of death in the first year of life, causing one in every five infant deaths. These conditions lead to $2.6 billion per year in hospital costs alone in the United States. In (name of your state) birth defects account for about ### infant deaths every year.
- Birth defects can occur in any family regardless of race, ethnicity, health history, economic status, or level of education.
- About half of all pregnancies are unplanned, contributing to late entry into prenatal care and presenting a barrier to optimal pregnancy management, particularly during the crucial first weeks of a baby’s development.
- Early identification of a child with a birth defect coupled with early intervention services typically improves the child’s quality of life and may even save his or her life.
- Taking steps to avoid infections during pregnancy can reduce the chance that a child is born with a birth defect. The National Birth Defects Prevention Network and CDC encourage parents-to-be to reduce the chance of developing an infection during pregnancy by observing the following guidelines:
o Properly prepare food.
o Talk to your healthcare provider.
o Protect yourself from animals and insects known to carry diseases such as Zika virus.
o Maintain good hygiene.