Studies Address Bacterial Vaginosis, Hypertension, Skin Cancer, Substance Use, Tobacco Ads
The following summarizes recent coverage of studies that address minority health issues.
- Bacterial vaginosis: The risk of a pregnant woman becoming infected with bacterial vaginosis, the most common type of vaginal infection and a risk factor for premature birth, is doubled if she or her male partner is black, according to a study presented last week at the 34th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Boston, Reuters reports. Lead researcher Hyagriv Simhan of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues studied 325 pregnant black and white women during the first trimester. Researchers found that the rate of bacterial vaginosis over the study period was 45.3% among black women, compared with 26.2% among white women. Researchers speculated that certain factors about the male partner, such as whether he is circumcised or has genital bacteria, as well as "immune discordance between the male and female partner" could affect a woman's risk of bacterial vaginosis (Gale, Reuters, 8/16).
- Hypertension: Blacks who participate in aerobic exercise training are less likely to reduce aldosterone, a sodium-retaining hormone linked with hypertension, than whites who exercise, according to a study in Experimental Physiology, United Press International reports. The study, led by Michael Brown of Temple University's College of Health Professions, examined 35 blacks and whites with hypertension who participated in an aerobic exercise training program for six months. During the study period, aldosterone levels in whites decreased by 32%, compared with an 8% reduction among blacks. Brown said exercise still is beneficial to blacks with hypertension, despite the study failing to show that exercise affected aldosterone levels among blacks (United Press International, 8/17).
- Skin cancer: Hispanic teenagers are more likely to increase their risk of skin cancer by using tanning beds and not protecting themselves from the sun than white teenagers, according to a study published in the August issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology, U.S. News & World Report reports. For the study, researchers from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine examined 221 Hispanic and 148 white teens. According to the study, compared with white teens, Hispanics teens were less likely to consider themselves at risk for skin cancer; more likely to tan deeply; about twice as likely to never use sunscreen; 60% less likely to be knowledgeable of how to do a skin self-examination; and 70% less likely to have been told how to do it. Researchers recommended improvements in awareness outreach efforts to Hispanic teenagers (U.S. News & World Report, 8/20). The study is available online.
- Substance use: Blacks who report they have been discriminated against also are more likely to report use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, United Press International reports. Though researchers found that more blacks reported discrimination than whites, whites who perceived discrimination reported similar substance use. Lead author Luisa Borrell of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said, "It is possible that use of a recreational drug helps to cope with life stress resulting from perceived unfair treatment because of one's race/ethnicity" (United Press International, 8/20). An abstract of the study is available online.
- Tobacco ads: The total number of tobacco advertisements per capita in black neighborhoods is 2.6 times higher than that of white neighborhoods, according to a study to be published in the September/October issue of Public Health Reports, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Lead researcher Brian Primack of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues examined data from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Carolina and other locations and determined how many billboard and display ads in a particular area were for tobacco products. Researchers looked at data from as far back as 20 years ago. With new restrictions, tobacco ads have moved away from billboards and television and into magazines and other outlets, the Post-Gazette reports. According to researchers' findings, if a white neighborhood had 1,000 tobacco ads, a black neighborhood would have 2,600 such ads. (Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8/21).