School of Public Health researchers to present studies

March 21, 1997


POPULAR MAGAZINES MISLEAD YOUNG WOMEN ABOUT BREAST CANCER “EPIDEMIC.” Popular magazines are “subtly or blatantly” implying that there is a breast cancer epidemic among young women even though most researchers agree that the approximately 30 percent rise in the age-adjusted incidence of breast cancer in the 1980s is mostly an “artifact of the lead time afforded by mammography screening.”

Magazines suggest that the “epidemic” is primarily affecting young women and is related to the lifestyle choices of young, non- traditional women—delayed childbearing or non-childbearing, the use of oral contraceptives, induced abortion, and the use of tobacco and alcohol, according to Paula M. Lantz, assistant professor of health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health. Her conclusions are drawn from a study of popular magazines from 1980-95, including a content analysis of 228 magazine articles published between 1987 and 1995.

Lantz’s colleague on the study was Karen M. Booth, the Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research, University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health. Lantz will present her findings at 12:30 p.m. March 28.

U-M STUDY CONFIRMS HUNCH: ALCOHOL AND CONDOMS DON’T MIX. Alcohol use reduces the use of condoms in all types of sexual relationships, according to Kathleen Ford, research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology, U-M School of Public Health.

Ford and colleagues interviewed 1,435 African Americans and Hispanics, ages 15-24, in the city of Detroit—population groups that are at high risk for AIDS. Ford examined relationships among three types of sexual partners—married/living together partners; knew-well partners, where the couple had been in a relationship on average more that half a year; and casual partners, where the couple did not know each other well and had had sex infrequently.

Ford found that, with the exception of the Hispanic women, more than half of the respondents drank. Although the majority of drinkers agreed that alcohol use increased the likelihood of sex, it also decreased the use of condoms among all three groups, and particularly among the married/lived with and knew-well groups.

Ford also found that:

—The negative affect of alcohol on condom use was particularly strong among African American males.

—Older persons and Hispanics were less likely to report using condoms, possibly because they are using other forms of contraception. “Other types of contraceptives, however, do not generally protect as well against sexually transmitted diseases,” Ford notes.

—Those who reported first intercourse at an older age who were in “knew well” relationships were more likely to use condoms.

“The failure to use condoms due to alcohol is a great health concern, since many of the respondents had been in several different sexual relationships in the past year,” Ford says. Ford’s research colleague is Anne E. Norris, School of Nursing, Boston College. Ford will present her findings 8:30-10:30 a.m. March 28.

(734) 764-7260

Paula M. Lantzhealth management and policyKathleen FordDepartment of Epidemiology