Early Childhood Sexual Abuse: What Is Breast Ironing?

Sexual abuse is a reality that millions of women around the world grow up experiencing. In fact, nearly four million will have experienced the act of “breast ironing” — which most of us have probably never heard about. For those who have, it’s about as horrific an act of intense violence and abuse as can be conceived. For those who have not, it’s about time to learn. We need to identify forms of abuse before we can put an end to them.

Sometimes called “breast flattening,” ironing is exactly what it sounds like: Heated irons or other flat objects are pounded into a pubescent girl’s breasts in order to prevent development — or to destroy them altogether.

Much of this abuse — as insane as this sounds — is perpetrated by a close family member such as the mother or grandmother. And even more strangely, most of these family members contend that they are trying to protect their beloved daughter from rate or other forms of harassment and sexual assault. But then again, these are also mostly conservative guardians who admit that a childhood pregnancy would besmirch the family’s honor.

Other reasons for the barbaric practice include preventing an early (and forced) marriage, which often occurs subsequent to unexpected pregnancy in many third-world countries or to prevent sexually transmitted infections that are more common in some countries. Sometimes, we forget that HIV and AIDS are part of a worldwide pandemic that gets less and less attention as treatment options here at home become more widely available (and do a better job of preventing serious illness). 

One California sexual abuse attorney acknowledged that sexual abuse is common in the United States, but not this kind. 

Dr. Leyla Hussein OBE writes, “Last year, the United Nations called attention to the ‘shadow pandemic’ that has spread alongside COVID-19. Domestic violence against women increased significantly due to the confinement imposed dby international lockdowns. Unfortunately, this shadow pandemic does not receive the attention it deserves.”

She continued, “A girl undergoing [female genital mutilation] in Somalia; a wife being abused by her husband in England; a woman enduring sexual harrassment in Mexico; a female executive not receiving the same pay as her male counterpart in Canada — each of these experiences are tied together through the strings of misogyny, which are rarely discussed and challenged but are right there in plain sight if you are willing to look for them.”

Hussein is concerned that even while human rights moments like #MeToo are becoming more common, turning a blind eye to these acts of harassment, abuse, violence, and gender inequality is still a worldwide problem. This is not just something we see in the third world. This is something pervasive here at home.

Breast ironing isn’t a single act of abuse. It occurs for weeks, sometimes months, at a time until the breasts show signs of halting development. The abuse can become worse — and more prolonged — when the victim resists. The act is becoming more common in England due to Cameroonian subculture. 

How Often Are Breasts Associated With Divorce

One could obviously joke that breasts are associated with one-hundred percent of divorces initiated by the straight male — but how many divorces are the byproduct of a person’s lack of satisfaction with the physical features of a lover? The answer might surprise you. We’ll explore the realities of physical augmentation (you know which ones) and all the strange legal quandaries that develop as a result.

First and foremost: Are you more likely to get a divorce when you or a spouse decide to get breast implants? It’s a valid question due to skyrocketing rates of breast augmentation. There are about 50 percent more procedures performed today than there were in the year 2000. 

Luckily for most married couples, breast size doesn’t seem to connect or correlate to divorce incidence. Googling the topic will likely result in a number of anecdotes but few hard facts. Here’s what we can say for sure: Many women who receive breast augmentation experience renewed self-confidence (others do not), and that could absolutely carry over into the bedroom. “Happy wife, happy life,” or so they say.

And of course we can make all kind of non-factual assessments based on (perhaps) unrelated facts. For one, studies seem to show that certain men’s “oppressive beliefs predict their breast size preferences in women.” But still, no obvious difference in divorce before or after surgery. Oh well. Back to the drawing board. 

Here’s another crazy question for you (and yes, divorcing couples actually ask): Are implants considered marital property? Wow. That one’s a doozy. First, what is marital property? Basically, marital property is that which must be divided equitably when a marriage dissolves. The idea comes down to a fair 50/50 split of most assets. And because the laws are inherently abstract (Solomon might be able to cut a baby in two, but we can’t), there are a lot of absurd claims.

Isaacson v. Isaacson (yes, this actually went to court) was the story of a husband who said his wife’s implants were marital assets. When Mr. Isaacson eventually lost the case to his wife, the North Dakota Supreme Court failed to overturn the appeal. In other words, the precedent was set that a woman’s breasts, augmented or not, belong to her. Except that similar decisions in other states have gone the opposite way, forcing the augmented woman to pay her husband his fair share (in cash). 

The same argument has been used to argue that all sorts of things are marital assets, right down to the fillings in a person’s teeth.

While a divorce lawyer in any state will tell you that while couples do not experience a greater incidence of divorce when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it does happen sometimes. In fact, many couples are more likely to agree to couples counseling when a crazy catalyst like cancer changes the overall outlook or introduces friction into a relationship.

So there you have it. Breasts are sometimes a subject of debate during a divorce, but they don’t seem to be associated with getting a divorce. Truth be told, we expected to find the opposite to hold true. Oh well.

Boob Trivia Extravaganza: Weird Facts You Should Definitely Know

Men might argue that boobs are perhaps the natural world’s greatest inventions. It might not surprise you that a typical man’s knowledge of the female breast is mostly skin deep. Ask them any of these trivia questions and they’ll probably look at you with typical “who cares?” attitude. Here are the weirdest facts about boobs you might not know (but you definitely should). 

Breasts are not solid masses! There are six to nine “lobes” that make up a typical breast. Each of these lobes is made up of yet smaller “lobules,” each of which ends in a tiny bulb. Every single one of those bulbs can manufacture milk. The rest of the breast is filled with fat, muscle, lymph, and blood vessels. 

Women can obtain orgasm from nipple-based foreplay — or from breastfeeding. And no, that’s not sexual. It’s just nature at work.

Sometimes, men can produce milk when a condition called “galactorrhea” is present. 

Breasts change from the moment they develop until a person’s death (we say “person” because men have all the correct pieces to the breast puzzle as well, and can even develop breast cancer — but they don’t usually produce the right hormones to manufacture milk). Breasts can go up or down a cup size during a menstrual cycle, making it extremely difficult for women to fight the right bras. 

Belly buttons get all the attention for their diversity, but there are actually four kinds of nipples: normal, flat, puffy, and inverted. The last classification means the person’s nipples are somewhat dimpled. Awwww, adorable!

Breasts are scientifically awe-inspiring. In other words, we can’t figure out why they exist at all. We’re the only mammalian species with chests that expand even without milk production. And in fact, we don’t need as much space. 

Breast development might begin during puberty, but for some people it can take up to ten years. The most usual timeframe? Three to five years. That’s a long time for a pubescent kid trying to adapt!

Breast Law Practices: From Malpractice To Social Media Oversight

Where boobs are involved, social stigma can be menacing. It’s perfectly legal to breastfeed in public in all fifty states, but there is still a strong distaste for it in some circles. As little sense as the stigma might make, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So where does that leave society? With a lot to learn, we think. Here are some of the best or “breast” law practices to avoid legal trouble.

Women have been trying to “free the nipple” for quite some time now, and nowhere is that campaign more evident that on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where the female nipple is still forbidden. A new Facebook Oversight Board recently ruled that “nipple moderation” is a free speech issue (i.e. that female nipples have as much right to touch the open air as male nipples do).

One finding of Facebook’s own “Supreme Court” said that “The incorrect removal of [a Brazilian woman’s] post indicates the lack of proper human oversight which raises human rights concerns…As Facebook’s rules treat male and female nipples differently, using inaccurate automation to enforce these rules disproportionately affects women’s freedom of expression. Enforcement which relies solely on automation without adequate human oversight also interferes with freedom of expression.”

Granted, it leaves us wondering whether the court would rule differently if a human were the one deleting or restricting posts. The social media rules still indicate that female nipples must be covered or blurred. And even then, there are innumerable instances of posts being removed even though they did not break the rule.

Other legal issues abound. Breast cancer is now the most common form of cancer, which incidentally means it is often a focus of malpractice lawsuits.

A personal injury attorney is almost guaranteed to focus on one of these cases. And so the question arises: are they fair to the radiologists who must interpret whether or not a woman has breast cancer? An awe-inspiring fifty percent of radiologists who interpret these scans are under the legal malpractice knife by age 60. Are mistakes really so common, or are these scans simply difficult to interpret?

Michelle V. Lee works for Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis and has some insight: “Given a charged medicolegal climate, the high prevalence of breast cancer, the widespread public awareness of screening mammography, and confusion of lay people regarding the role and efficacy of screening mammography, a delay in breast cancer diagnosis is one of the most prevalent and expensive concerns resulting in malpractice lawsuits.”

According to the research Lee compiled, there are a number of reasons these lawsuits move forward: patients have unrealistic expectations, delay in diagnosis, and youth. This is part of the reason doctors place so much emphasis on managing expectations. It’s because younger people who don’t understand a diagnosis or its implications are more likely to sue. 

Lee’s team suggested that “Better understanding of factors and trends in malpractice litigation can lead to improvements in patient care, safety and satisfaction as well as betterment of the malpractice system.”

Welcome To 2021: Breast Cancer The Most Common Form Of Cancer

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released new studies in December 2020 that show that breast cancer has become the most dominant form of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to create a global breast cancer initiative in response, and in collaboration with IARC and the International Atomic Energy Agency. This should help improve cancer detection around the world, especially in at-risk and in-poverty communities.

Not to be ignored, one of Joe Biden’s strange presidential promises was to eliminate cancer by the end of his presidency. Whereas that might be a bit of a reach, it does suggest that there could be an infusion of cash for research aimed at ending cancer as quickly as possible.

Cancer is a top health problem around the world. Numbers of cancer diagnoses have increased by nearly 100 percent over the past 20 years. That means one in five people will likely develop cancer before they die. The numbers are expected to increase again — albeit more slowly — in the next 20 years.

Although our ability to fight against and treat cancer has improved, the number of overall deaths has still increased simply because of those additional diagnoses. 

There are many reasons for this trend. Lifestyle changes like unhealthy diet, sedentary living, or smoking likely contributed, but many areas of the country are experiencing a more positive outlook after turning these factors around. Perhaps the biggest factor is the fact that people are living longer lives. Poverty and childhood death have declined steadily — and substantially — over the past two decades. This trend will also likely continue. 

Unfortunately, cancer treatment was disrupted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO surveys concluded that at least 40 percent of countries around the world experienced issues with late-stage diagnosis and treatment accessibility because of COVID-19. Treatment interruptions became more common, as did abandoning treatment altogether.

When Can State Law Prevent Breast Cancer Victims From Receiving Workers Compensation

Battling breast cancer is scary all by itself. But it’s much worse when you have to worry about coddling family members who don’t know what to say or how to act, deal with insurance company reps who don’t want to cut you a fair deal, and contend with unfair state laws or inflated costs of care no one could possibly afford. Sometimes, workers compensation laws allow victims or survivors of cancer to recoup costs. That’s because certain types of work are carcinogenic, i.e. they can cause cancer or have been shown to include groups of people who seem to have higher rates of cancer. 

Laurianna Sargent was one such person who thought she would be covered under workers comp laws in New Mexico, where a Presumptive Cause Bill stated clearly that cancer care costs should be covered when your job sometimes causes cancer. Sargent was a volunteer firefighter for over twenty years. It only makes sense that she thought her employers would be willing to show her the same compassion she showed victims of fire for those two decades.

But that’s not what happened. Why? Because cancer diagnoses are more likely as a person gets older. The law presumes that a person only has the right to workers comp if the job had enough time to cause the cancer. What determines that period of time? Unclear.

Sargent explained, “Mine was not covered, because I was not diagnosed before the age of forty. Typically most women don’t get sent to get their first mammogram until they’re forty.”

In this case, the law seems to posit that a woman should not be covered if she is diagnosed with breast cancer before she would normally be screened for it. As so many people with illnesses have had to do already, Sargent set up a GoFundMe so she can relieve some of the crushing financial strain. Meanwhile, her case hasn’t gone unnoticed. AFR representatives are trying to amend the Presumptive Cause Bill so women don’t have to go through the same ordeal as Sargent.

Out of the eleven people diagnosed with cancer in AFR, three haven’t been covered under current guidelines. We reached out to Sargent to inquire whether or not she considered retaining the services of a workers compensation lawyer, but she has yet to respond to our request for comment.

A new California bill, AB 479, would help reduce the number of noncompliant workers’ comp claims and practices. The American Medical Association has a specific set of guidelines for how to process such claims, and it was noted that this process was often subverted or ignored in many workplaces.

AB479 would mandate doctors to determine exactly which work-related impairments were caused by breast cancer. The reason that the bill surfaced was because many workers who have struggled with cancer face a set of lifelong physical, mental, and financial consequences that workers comp payments rarely reflect.

The Most Effective Breast Cancer Treatments 2020

A new five-year study recently concluded in Greece: “The structure-function relationship of oncogenic LMTK3.” The study was conducted by seven institutions in a collaboration effort between three countries in order to determine the structure of LMTK3, which is an important component in the cellular control center. Scientists already know that LMTK3 makes various cancer treatments ineffective. The question is why.

Professor Georgios Giamas os Cancer Cell Signaling at the University of Sussex said, “By solving the crystal structure of LMTK3, we have demonstrated that it possesses all of the hallmarks of an active protein kinase. LMTK3 plays a pivotal role in controlling cellular processes, and we have previously shown that active LMTK3 makes some cancer treatments (eg. chemotherapy and endocrine therapies) less effective.”

Reversing this trend could result in new therapies for various forms of cancer, breast cancer included.

Giamas said, “We are now in the process of taking this research to the next stage by developing LMTK3 specific drugs. We hope that in the next five years we will be undertaking clinical trials, which is incredibly quick for this type of process.”

Also this week, Docwirenews reported a new set of data on the connection between diagnosis timing and socioeconomic status, which is relevant to coronavirus. COVID-19 case rates have resulted in increased wait times between appointments and follow-up appointments. This has resulted in those who have trouble finding money for food and housing to take even longer getting diagnosed with cancer.

Assistant professor of radiology at the Boston University School of Medicine, Michael D. Fishman, M.D., said, “Our findings indicate longer lapses between diagnostic imaging and biopsy for patients with unmet social needs, which begs the question: are unmet social needs associated with some amount of breast cancer mortality that could have been prevented? We seek to investigate this in future work.”

Should Breast Cancer Patients Prepare Differently For Potential Hurricanes?

The short answer is “yes.” Breast cancer patients should prepare for every possible contingency — and differently than they might if they were already healthy. This might seem like a time-consuming burden (and possibly an expensive one, too), but it could save your life. Marian Von-Maszewski, M.D. is an associate medical director of Critical Care at MD Anderson. She recently helped breast cancer patients prepare relevant checklists due to the increased number of tropical storms and hurricanes this past season.

Marian said, “Cancer patients are often at greater risk of contracting an infection. So, try to get everything you need early on to avoid the last-minute crowds in stores. It’s almost impossible to maintain adequate social distancing in those situations. And that could prove to be more dangerous than the storm itself.”

She brings up the important point that while COVID-19 is still a threat, you should keep general social distancing and sanitization precautions in mind when completing any relevant checklist. This is because those with underlying conditions are at greater risk of becoming seriously endangered by COVID-19. Breast cancer is one doozy of an underlying condition.

In order to make sure that you lose as little as possible in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster or storm, you should ensure that homes and vehicles are covered by insurance. Hurricane damage insurance claims can be a hassle when the relevant coverage isn’t just right.

Von-Maszewski added, “Evacuation could pose a risk. Face masks will be especially important if patients have to stay in crowded shelters.”

Those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk during these kinds of natural disasters because of a variety of factors that crop up during or after the event. For example, flooding is common after a hurricane. Standing water can mean an easy source of infection because they are excellent mosquito breeding grounds. Especially bad storms can leave debris that can lead to injury for those who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.

MD Anderson’s checklist is simple. First and foremost, keep several weeks worth of food and water on hand. In addition, ensure that you have access to needed medications should the worst happen. Another important thing to keep in mind: you might lose access to electronic data if the power goes out for an extended period of time. If this happens, you’ll want to know the medications you need renewed and the proper dosages. Are there medications that need to be refrigerated? Keep enough ice in the freezer so you can transfer it to a heavy duty cooler if the power goes out. 

The final steps include making sure you have the quickest route to the nearest emergency rooms written down. Make sure you have extra gas stored away so you always have enough for a full tank! You’ll want to coordinate with your insurance company to avoid any problems down the road — like when one hospital is covered but another is not. 

New Instagram Series Published In Time For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A breast cancer diagnosis in 2020 hits much harder than it did last year or the year before that, because families are already struggling to avoid financial ruin brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s part of the reasoning behind Novartis Oncology’s recent video series on IGTV, which tries to raise awareness for breast cancer patients’ needs, which have change dramatically in the last seven months.

Senior Vice President Shannon Campbell at Novartis Oncology said, “Patients are experiencing different emotions at this point in 2020 that are so different from 2019 as they’re navigating a breast cancer diagnosis. We wanted to be mindful of the differences and make sure that our resources, approach and campaign match the tone and tenor in the environment we find ourselves in now versus last year.”

The posted on Instagram alongside the hashtag #Makeyourdialoguecount in order to seek out new donations this October: “Today is #MetastaticBreastCancerAwarenessDay. This year alone, an estimated 279,100 people in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. In the comments below, share who you’re honoring today (and yes, that included honoring yourself!).”

Campbell added: “It wasn’t that many years ago that metastatic breast cancer didn’t really have a voice. The voice was about the pink ribbon movement and early breast cancer. Now, what you can see in our branded communications and in our unbranded support communications is this idea of metastatic breast cancer women as not only survivors but able to thrive.”

Novartis is known for its cutting edge treatments, which include kinase inhibitors to treat advanced breast cancer. These are drugs that block kinase enzymes, which are present in human cells to perform specific functions like signaling, division, metabolism, etc. Some kinases are present in cancer cells also, which is why blocking them can provide a beneficial treatment when nothing else works.

Can You Acquire Disability Benefits When You Have Breast Cancer?

The coronavirus pandemic has made most of our lives more complicated. For some of us that means juggling work with the kids, who are home from school. For some that means being out of a job and having few prospects for finding new work. For others that means dealing with the pressures of already having a long-term illness or disease — like breast cancer — and knowing that you could come down with coronavirus, or, in the worst case scenario this autumn: the flu and COVID-19 together. 

That’s why many of our readers have inquired about the potential for disability benefits under certain circumstances. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States, which means there is no better time to answer these questions.

Breast cancer survival rates have gotten much more promising in the last decade. Also, victims of breast cancer are spending less time out of work — but that also means fewer options for disability benefits. When you can work, you should work. But if working hurts you or makes it more likely for the cancerous cells to spread out of control, then of course you should do everything in your power to fight back, rest, and recuperate before worrying about your job. You can’t lose your job because you’re sick.

Why should you strive to work when you can? Senior Leave and Disability Consultant for Unum, Mandy Stogner, said, “Work often provides a sense of normalcy and support for employees of breast cancer during a time of uncertainty. This is why the role of employers is so important during diagnosis, treatment, and return to work.”

Depression should be staved off for as long as possible, and work can help. Disability benefits should only be a last resort. When working is no longer an option, those benefits are available — but timing is everything because those benefits are notorious for long lines.

HR Manager for Rapid API, Sophie Summers, said, “In the initial stage of breast cancer, you have to cross more miles to get disability benefits. Those suffering from stage 3 or above are more likely to medically qualify, but there are still ways to get some benefits, such as coverage of medications.”

Liz Supinksi, Data Science Director for the Society for Human Resource Management, described the process to qualify for disability: “…Most people who are able to qualify for disability benefits are not working for others. Self-employment is common enough among both disabled workers and those with disabilities severe enough to qualify for benefits.”

Doctors can help you determine when to start or stop work, which can impact when and how your benefits are acquired. 

Attorney Stephanie Fajuri for the Cancer Legal Resource Center in Los Angeles said, “In some circumstances, the doctor will say, ‘She’s doing great, she has less pain.’ While those are certainly positive things for the patient, in the context of a disability application, it does not look good.”

She added, “Make sure the doctor not only supports your disability [application], but that medical records support it.”