Category Archives: Relationships

Early Puberty Puts Girls At Risk

Medical problems include increased chance of breast cancer

By DORSEY GRIFFITH – McClatchy Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — American girls are entering puberty at earlier ages, putting them at far greater risk for breast cancer later in life and for all sorts of social and emotional problems well before they reach adulthood.

Girls as young as 8 increasingly are starting to menstruate, develop breasts and grow pubic and underarm hair — biological milestones that only decades ago typically occurred at 13 or older. African-American girls are especially prone to early puberty.

Theories abound as to what is driving the trend, but the exact cause or causes, are not known. A new report, commissioned by the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund, has gathered heretofore disparate pieces of evidence to help explain the phenomenon — and spur efforts to help prevent it.

It’s a “superb” review of all the factors involved, said Dr. Marion Kavanaugh-Lynch, an oncologist and director of the California Breast Cancer Research Program in Oakland.

DRAMATIC RISKS

The stakes are high.

“The data indicates that if you get your first period before age 12, your risk of breast cancer is 50 percent higher than if you get it at age 16,” said the report’s author, biologist Sandra Steingraber, herself a cancer survivor. “For every year we could delay a girl’s first menstrual period, we could prevent thousands of breast cancers.”

Kavanaugh-Lynch said most breast cancer cells thrive on estrogen, and girls who menstruate early are exposed to more estrogen than girls maturing normally.

Steingraber’s paper, “The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls: What We Know, What We Need to Know,” examines everything from obesity and inactivity to family stress, media imagery and accidental exposures of girls to chemicals.

Steingraber concludes that early puberty could best be understood as an “ecological disorder,” resulting from a variety of environmental hits.

She also reports on links between early puberty and social and emotional problems.

THIRD-GRADERS NEEDING TAMPONS

Steingraber’s report is being released amid growing national interest in how the environment contributes to disease.

For years, parents, doctors and teachers have recognized the trend in early puberty among girls, with little information to explain it.

Dr. Charles Wibbelsman, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, said he now routinely sees girls as young as 8 with breast development and girls as young as 9 who have started their periods. He said the phenomenon is most striking in African-American girls.

“We don’t think of third-graders as using tampons or wearing bras,” he said. In fact, he said, pediatricians are having to adjust the way they do regular checkups.

Steingraber acknowledges that some of the shift in girls’ puberty is evolutionary, a reflection of better infectious disease control and improved nutrition, conditions that allow mammals to reproduce.

But since the mid 20th century, she said, other factors seem to have “hijacked the system” that dictates the onset of puberty.

Rising childhood obesity rates clearly play a role, she said, noting that chubbier girls tend to reach puberty earlier than thinner girls. Levels of leptin, a hormone produced by body fat, is one trigger for puberty, and leptin levels are higher in blacks than in other groups.

But obesity cannot alone be blamed for the shifts, she said. Steingraber’s paper explored many other factors that likely play a role, including exposure to common household chemicals.

“My job was to put together a huge jigsaw puzzle,” with each study a piece of it, she said.

“The world is not a good place for early maturing girls,” she said. “They are at higher risk of depression, early alcohol abuse, substance abuse, early first sexual encounter and unintended pregnancies.”

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Throwback Sunday

This weeks Throwback sunday brings you : Madonna

Take a Bow…

This is my favorite Madonna ballad.

Stayed at #1 for seven weeks in the U.S and sold more than 1.5 millon sigles around the world. Very few can keep up with this eccentric woman. She rules! Enjoy!

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Who’s the Boss?

This article reminds me of a quote from the movie: My Big Fat Greek Wedding:

The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.”

A recent study finds: Women Are in Charge at Home

Men might throw their weight around at the office, but at home, women are the bosses.

A study, which was just released, finds that wives have more power than their husbands in making decisions and dominating discussions.

“The study at least suggests that the marriage is a place where women can exert some power,” said lead author David Vogel, a psychologist at Iowa State University (ISU). “Whether or not it’s because of changing societal roles, we don’t know.”

The results counter past research.

“Most of the research literature in psychology has suggested that women have less power,” Vogel told LiveScience. “They have largely based that on the fact that traditionally men earn more money and so therefore would have the ability to make big decisions in the relationship.” That wasn’t the case in this study.

Spouse survey says

Vogel, Megan Murphy, also of ISU, and their colleagues surveyed 72 married couples in which the spouses were an average of 33 years old and had been married for about seven years. Most of the participants (66 percent) were Caucasian, followed by Asian (22 percent), Hispanic (5 percent) and African American (4 percent). The final 3 percent represented “other” nationalities.

Each spouse answered questions about relationship satisfaction and overall decision-making ability. Then, each spouse noted a relationship problem that could not be resolved without the spouse’s cooperation. While money and housework were popular picks, sex didn’t come up much as a marital issue.

Topics chosen by husbands/wives included:

  • Money—18 percent (husbands) / 13 percent (wives)
  • Housework—15 percent / 15 percent
  • Friends and family—10 percent / 19 percent
  • Feelings and emotions—10 percent / 13 percent
  • Time together—13 percent / 10 percent
  • Making decisions—18 percent / 4 percent
  • Sex—4 percent / 1percent
  • Intimacy—1 percent / 1 percent
  • Communication—3 percent / 4 percent
  • Children—husbands never chose this topic; 3 percent of wives
  • Other relationship changes—4 percent / 17 percent

The scientists videotaped the couples while they discussed each of the issues for 10 minutes.

Women power

Trained volunteers coded the videotapes using a scale that rated couples’ interactions based on words and behaviors associated with blame (blames, accuses and criticizes the partner); demand (nags, pressures for change, requests); withdrawal and avoidance (avoids discussion the problem by hesitating, changing topics, diverting attention or looking away); and discussion.

Wives were more demanding—asking for changes in the relationship or in their partner—and were more likely to get their way than the husbands. This held regardless of who had chosen the issue.

The women were not just talking more than their husbands.

“It wasn’t just that the women were bringing up issues that weren’t being responded to, but that the men were actually going along with what they said,” Vogel explained. “[Women] were communicating more powerful messages, and men were responding to those messages by agreeing or giving in.”

One reason for in-charge wives could be that they carry the weight of making sure the family farm is running smoothly.

“Women are responsible for overseeing the relationship, making sure the relationship runs, that everything gets done, and that everybody’s happy,” Murphy said.

Wife power could signal a harmonious couple. “There’s been research that suggests that’s a marker of a healthy marriage—that men accept influence from their wives,” Murphy said.

The study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology, was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health along with ISU.

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