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Grant supports women's health initiative. The Avon Breast Health Access Fund has awarded $ 40,000 to the Boston Medical Center Women's Health Network (WHN) to increase awareness of the lifesaving benefits of early detection of breast cancer. WHN provides eligible Boston-area women with free breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in American women and the leading cause of death in women between 40 and 55. Experts say that up to 40 percent of these deaths can be prevented if women practice the three early detection steps: annual mammograms beginning at age 40, annual clinical breast exams from age 20, and monthly self-exams from age 20.

According to the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, women who don't comply with these guidelines typically are poor and lack regular health services.

"There are many reasons women don't get their breast cancer detected early, including fear of discovering the disease, ignorance of the importance of regular screening, lack of medical insurance, and not having a primary care physician," says Dr. Chava Chapman, WHN program director and a clinical associate professor at the BU School of Medicine. "Other barriers are cultural beliefs that contradict the notion of breast cancer prevention as well as language and other logistical difficulties. These all contribute to low screening rates among poor women and those who lack health-care services."

With the grant, WHN will be able to educate women and refer them to low-cost or free mammograms and clinical breast exams in their own communities. The program will also provide diagnostic services and will refer women to affordable treatment.

The Avon Breast Health Access Fund's National Advisory Board selected WHN as one of 23 grant recipients nationwide in the 12th cycle of Avon grants.


Giving at-risk children healthy options. The Fitness and Nutrition Collaborative, a joint effort between the Boston Medical Center pediatrics department and local community groups, was recently awarded a $ 40,000 grant by Blue Cross and Blue Shield for its work with children who are overweight or at high risk for becoming obese.

"The collaborative provides children with a wonderful opportunity to learn about healthy lifestyles that we hope they will carry with them into adulthood," says Dr. George Askew, medical advisor to the collaborative and director of community pediatrics at BMC. The collaborative serves 35 children, 10 to 12 years old.

The staff is a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, dietitians, behavioral therapists, fitness trainers, undergraduate volunteers, and adolescent peer leaders. They work to improve children's health by encouraging healthy food choices, building self-esteem through athletics and one-on-one mentoring, increasing access to physical education, and lowering the risk of developing obesity-related medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The collaborative supports two programs, the Fitness and Nutrition Program for Boys and the Fitness and Nutrition Program for Girls. During each two-hour session, children do both traditional and nontraditional exercises such as team sports and park cleanups.

In addition, the children are guided through food options, discuss the importance of a balanced diet, visit the local grocery store, read food labels, and learn to integrate this knowledge into daily life.

Participants are evaluated throughout the program for overall physical well-being, understanding of nutrition information, and growth in self-esteem and emotional well-being. Program staff also conduct comprehensive physical fitness evaluations of each child at the beginning and at the end of the program and keep track of attendance.

The Fitness and Nutrition Collaborative is a joint effort of BMC, Project Health, the Whittier Street Health Center WYSE Program, Madison Park Development Corporation, the Reggie Lewis Foundation, and the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

"Research Briefs" is written by Joan Schwartz in the Office of the Provost. To read more about BU research, visit http://www.bu.edu/research.

       

15 May 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations