Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Women's Health

Beating Cancer Cells at Their Own Game

By Karen Kreeger | November 9, 2016 | Comments Cartwheel Ben Aston Flickr Creative Commons

Most cells do metabolic somersaults to survive under stressful a condition – which is to say, they enlist the most expedient biochemical pathways to produce essential molecules in order to survive. By comparison, cancer cells perform high-wire cartwheels to recruit alternative pathways to thwart cancer drugs. As cancer cells do... Read more

Mysteries and Controversies of the Placenta

By Karen Kreeger | July 29, 2016 | Comments Pregnancy bump with heart John Hope

For an organ the female body makes and then sheds all within less than a year, the placenta has long held a place of reverence in human culture. But for scientists, the placenta still holds some mysteries and now some scholarly controversy. The organ, which supplies a developing baby oxygen... Read more

Gender Bias and the Leaking Biomedical Pipeline

By Katie Delach | April 18, 2016 | Comments Pipe

“Another day, another 70 cents!” Those were parting words from my mom every morning as she headed off to work at a cytogenetics lab, and I left for school. I didn’t really get it then – how could I when as a pre-teen my biggest problems were whether people were... Read more

Pregnancy and Heart Disease – Expanding the SCOPE of our Understanding

By Katie Delach | February 29, 2016 | Comments Preeclampsia

Today marks the last day of Heart Month, an annual campaign raising awareness about cardiovascular disease, a condition including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure that is responsible for one out of every three deaths, and is the leading cause of death in both men and women. In all... Read more

Is Bowel Leakage the New Erectile Dysfunction?

By Katie Delach | February 8, 2016 | Comments ABL blog post_image

Millions of men in America suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), but until a decade or so ago, talking about ED was about as taboo as religion and politics at the dinner table. Then, along came those commercials we’ve all come to know so well. You know the ones I’m talking... Read more

The Placenta: Our Least Understood Organ

By Katie Delach | January 11, 2016 | Comments image from

The placenta, commonly referred to as the afterbirth, is a disc of tissue that connects a mother’s uterus to the umbilical cord, and is ultimately responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen to a fetus. It plays a critical role in fetal development and yet, researchers know very little about how... Read more

Shedding More Light on Postpartum Depression

By Olivia Fermano | January 4, 2016 | Comments Ppd

Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow suffered from it. “Friends” and “Cougar Town” star Courteney Cox did too. Brook Shields and Marie Osmond both penned memoirs about their experiences with it. “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere openly admitted seeking treatment for it in real time in the hopes of helping other sufferers. Just as... Read more

Does Your Infant Have a Safe Sleep Environment?

By Sally Sapega | December 18, 2015 | Comments SIDS pic

Each year, approximately 4,500 infants in this country die in their sleep, from SIDS (sudden infant deaths) or other sleep-related causes. Although some of these deaths can’t be explained, studies have shown that in nearly 90 percent of these cases, the infant was in an unsafe sleep environment, which led... Read more

Providing PEACE of Mind

By Katie Delach | December 11, 2015 | Comments Wbaby_smaller

Bleeding and cramping early in pregnancy are common symptoms, which can in some cases signal a serious problem, such as an ectopic pregnancy or the beginning of a miscarriage, a common complication despite often being treated as taboo. In fact, according to the March of Dimes, miscarriage during the first... Read more

Shining a Spotlight on Our Genes, in Our Jeans (photos)

By Katie Delach | November 13, 2015 | Comments image from

This Tuesday, the Basser Center for BRCA hosted the “Basser Jean Bash – Unzip Your Genes,” an inaugural New York City benefit which raised over $8 million for the Center and included a celebration with special performances by Freestyle Love Supreme and American Authors. Planning for the event took more... Read more

It’s Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day!

By Katie Delach | October 21, 2015 | Comments BRA Day

It’s BRA Day! Yes, you read that right. While much of October is focused on raising awareness around research and education for patients or families at risk for breast cancer, today is the day we pause to promote education, awareness, and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day... Read more

Keeping Our Most Vulnerable Patients Safe

By Sally Sapega | October 7, 2015 | Comments Amber alert photo

Infant abduction from a hospital is not a common event but when it happens, the results can be devastating. Most often, news reports highlight stories of babies taken by non-custodial family members, or by women or couples who are desperate to have a baby. In the last 20 years, only... Read more

Exercise: It does a pregnant body good!

By Olivia Fermano | August 18, 2015 | Comments Pregnant-woman-exercising_2

The Internet – particularly social media – is cyber proof of the truth behind the phrase, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” It’s all about shaming and more often than not, women are the victims of said shaming. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re a celebrity... Read more

Empowerment and Self-Esteem

By Sally Sapega | August 14, 2015 | Comments Joy Cooper CAREs cropped

Black females in this country are twice as likely to become pregnant in their teens as their white counterparts and they have a higher rate of sexually transmitted infections -- seven times the rate of chlamydia as white women nationally. And the rates in Philadelphia are equally grim, if not... Read more

Decisions in Breast Reconstruction

By Katie Delach | July 17, 2015 | Comments image from

Autologous tissue reconstruction (left) and breast reconstruction using a tissue expander (right) are two of the most common reconstruction procedures following breast cancer treatment. Like many cancer patients, those facing a breast cancer diagnosis have a lot of decisions to make, and recovery is a long process. But unlike some... Read more

Hold Your Preemie Close: It’s Just the Right “Medicine”

By Sally Sapega | May 25, 2015 | Comments IMG_2788

While advanced technology saves the lives of many preemies, studies have shown that the most basic of all care -- simply holding the baby –may have the biggest impact of all. New moms of full-term babies at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are strongly encouraged to hold their... Read more

Individual Stories, Global Impact

By Olivia Fermano | May 7, 2015 | Comments HWHC_1

If there is a prominent reason for a woman to be grateful she lives in the 21st century, it’s health care. Over a dozen speakers – scholars from the humanities and health care professionals – gathered at Pennsylvania Hospital last week to help illustrate this fact at the 10th Annual... Read more

Making Medical Research Mobile

By Katie Delach | April 1, 2015 | Comments image from

In the laundry list of things you can do with a few swipes or taps of your finger – create a grocery list, conduct banking transactions, and track your daily workout – researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine are partnering with software developers to help create mobile apps aimed... Read more

Removing Barriers to Breast Cancer Care

By Olivia Fermano | February 13, 2015 | Comments image from

I overheard a breast cancer patient once say: There is only one thing worse than having cancer – not being able to afford it. Sobering. Financial cost remains a barrier to cancer screenings - let alone cancer treatment - among lower income women. While multiple factors contribute to racial and... Read more

Beyond Cancer: When Both Parents Hold BRCA, a New Risk Can Emerge

By Karen Kreeger | January 14, 2015 | Comments Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post image

Greenberg Cancer Discovery blog post imageMany families are acutely aware that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most important breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes. But recently a team including researchers at Penn Medicine discovered another risk it can pose in cancer patients when both parents carry the mutation. Read more

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