• Mark Wilson/Getty

    CANCER, NBD

    Universities Limiting Breast-Cancer Tests?

    UPenn and the University of Utah licensed exclusively to one company.

    As the Supreme Court ruled recently that human genes couldn't be patented, Ambry Genetics began to offer tests for the BRCA gene, which has been connected to breast cancer. Myraid Genetics, another firm that held a de facto monopoly on BRCA tests, sued them—trying to argue around the Supreme Court ruling. According to The Washington Post, two universities, the University of Pennslyvania and the University of Utah Research Foundation, own BRCA-related patents licensed just to Myriad. The Post's Timothy B. Lee wonders why these universities are trying to force these cancer tests, which could save lives, off the market. The answer may be because universities are trying to generate revenue via “technology transfer” offices, “whose job it is to obtain patents based on university research and license them to private industry,” according to Lee.

    Read it at The Washington Post
  • Sverre Haugland/Image Source/Corbis

    HEALTH

    Night Shift Might Be Killing You

    New study links workers to breast cancer.

    A new study has uncovered a possible link between a higher risk of breast cancer and working night shifts. Researchers examined women of the same age both with and without breast cancer; a third of the women with cancer had worked nights for a long period of time. Women who worked long night hours for 30 years or more were twice as likely to develop breast cancer. Previous studies have shown that nurses and other health-care professionals who work night shifts have a higher risk of cancer, but this study links the cancer rate to any occupation that involves long night hours. 

    Read it at The Independent
  • Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images Entertainment

    Disagrees with Jolie’s decision to undergo double mastectomy.

    It would seem like a man would be dismissing Angelina Jolie’s brave decision to have a double mastectomy, but Melissa Etheridge has taken the cake. A breast cancer survivor herself, Etheridge called out the actress in an interview this week, saying that Jolie’s mastectomy was “fearful,” not “brave.” After discovering she had the BRCA gene mutation that could lead to breast cancer, Jolie opted for a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie's fiancé, Brad Pitt, called the decision “heroic,” but Etheridge disagreed. She claims that many women have the mutation, but “it’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not.” In an op-ed in The New York Times, Jolie admitted that her decision was difficult but felt “empowered that I made a strong choice.”

    Read it at CBS News
  • Jonathan Knowles/Getty

    CHANGE

    Facebook to Allow Mastectomy Pictures

    After online petition gets 20,000 signatures.

    Facebook just announced that photos of mastectomy scars will now be allowed on the social-networking site, after Change.org gathered the necessary 20,000 signatures. In a statement, Facebook claimed that the site has “long allowed mastectomy photos,” but they were only removed after reports by other users. Fully exposed breasts without scars will still be banned from the site.  

    Read it at ABC News
  • Image Source / Corbis

    WALLFLOWERS

    Women Go Topless for Charity

    “Find boobs in the wallpaper.”

    Katy Rink was one of more than 250 women who showed their bare chests for a breast-cancer charity in the town of Shrewsbury, England. The photos have been collaged into wallpaper, transformed to black and white, and mixed with a paisley print. Rink said the project was a liberating experience—and makes for a fun game of “find the boobs in the wallpaper.” Designed by 38-year-old Sam Pooley, the wallpaper included a wide variety of women, including a reverend, a grandmother, and a transgender woman. These ladies are proving themselves as something more than a fly on the wall.

    Read it at The Telegraph
  • Charities

    More Trouble For Komen

    CEO's salary under fire just days after organization cancels some of its 3-day walks.

    More controversy for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Just days after the organization announced that it was canceling half of its 3-day walks this year, CEO Nancy Brinker is in the hot seat over a reported 64 percent raise in her salary since last year. In early 2012, the Komen Foundation first created waves with its announcement that it would stop funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. Amid a firestorm of protests. Brinker reversed the decision, and by August announced she would be stepping down. But NBC reports that not only does Brinker still hold her post, but atx documents revealed that she netted an enormous raise, and now makes $684,000 a year. (Komen told NBC that the raise came prior to the controversy last year.) According to one NBC source, the salary is said to be "extremely high" for a charity and allegedly "more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross."

    Read it at NBC News
  • Damian Dovarganes / AP

    BRCA GENE

    Genetic Abnormalities Drive Breast Cancer

    In black women, study says.

    A study revealed that black women with breast cancer commonly have BRCA gene mutations, which raises the risk of breast cancer because of the lack of a tumor-suppressing gene. The study—the first of its kind for the racial group—explains why black women have higher risk of breast cancer and a worse survival rate. Many of the women, from Chicago-area hospitals, had breast cancer at a young age, and half had a history of the disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 323,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, with about 5 percent to 10 percent of those due to bad BCRA genes.

    Read it at CBS News
  • Grant Halverson/Getty Images Sport

    Pink Ribbons

    Is Our War on Breast Cancer Overzealous?

    A breast-cancer survivor says mammograms are doing more harm than good.

    For years activists have waged a remarkably successful campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer and encourage regular mammograms. But what if all that awareness is doing as much harm as good? In a New York Times Magazine cover story, Peggy Orenstein, herself a breast-cancer survivor, looks at the dark side of the very public war on the disease. Not only do regular mammograms do much less than advertised to increase survival rates, they also lead to a great many false positives. “According to a survey of randomized clinical trials involving 600,000 women around the world, for every 2,000 women screened annually over 10 years, one life is prolonged, but 10 healthy women are given diagnoses of breast cancer and unnecessarily treated, often with therapies that themselves have life-threatening side effects,” Orenstein writes. In the end, she concludes, our culture’s ubiquitous, pink-ribbon-bedecked messages about breast cancer have “ultimately made women less conscious of the facts: obscuring the limits of screening, conflating risk with disease, compromising our decisions about health care, celebrating ‘cancer survivors’ who may have never required treating.”

    Read it at The New York Times Magazine
  • John Parra

    BREAST CANCER

    Calling Out Victoria’s Secret

    How two women’s online plea is pushing the lingerie giant to the ‘survivor bra’ market. By Nina Strochlic.

    On Thursday morning two women approached the imposing Victoria’s Secret corporate office in windy midtown Manhattan, armed with six pink- and white-striped signature bags. But instead of frilly unmentionables under the tissue paper, there were pages and pages of printed-out signatures and comments. Some 120,000 signatures in all, asking the lingerie giant to launch a “survivor bra,” for a female demographic neglected by many retailers: breast-cancer survivors.

    The two women were 27-year-old Allana Maiden and her mother, Debbie Barrett. Maiden, who lives in Richmond, Va., was inspired to start a petition on Change.org after noticing her mom’s struggle to find a bra that fits her 21 years after undergoing a mastectomy because of breast cancer. In the beginning of January, she posted the petition asking Victoria’s Secret to launch a line of prosthesis-fitting bras for breast-cancer survivors. A week later, as signatures neared 1,000, she told her mom what she had done, and within three weeks, the petition boasted 100,000 signatures.

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