On/Off the Hook

Well, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has issued new recommendations for mammogram screening.  Women in their forties no longer need mammograms at all!  And even after fifty, we only need mammograms every other year.  So, Doctor (the one who has been sending me harassing letters about getting my mammogram done), back off!  I’m off the hook!


But wait.  The American Cancer Society disagrees:

The USPSTF says that screening 1,339 women in their 50s to save one life makes screening worthwhile in that age group. Yet USPSTF also says screening 1,904 women ages 40 to 49 in order to save one life is not worthwhile. The American Cancer Society feels that in both cases, the lifesaving benefits of screening outweigh any potential harms. Surveys of women show that they are aware of these limitations, and also place high value on detecting breast cancer early.


In a time of mounting panic over health care costs, the USPSTF’s announcement seems politically and financially motivated.  They also announced that women should no longer be encouraged to conduct breast self-exams.  After all, a woman who discovers a lump in her breast might rush to her doctor and demand additional, expensive screening.  And we wouldn’t want lay people paying attention to their bodies or taking charge of their health care, would we?


Damnit.  I’m still on the hook.



Meanwhile, Faux News et al have gone apoplectic because President Obama bowed to Japan’s emperor when they met.  Former veep Darth Cheney himself weighed in: “There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone,” Cheney complained. “Our friends and allies don’t expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness.”


Uh oh, Barack.  You are on the hook!


But wait. 

Experts in Japanese etiquette praised Obama’s bow as a show of respect.  “Bowing is an expression of respect and open-mindedness as a person greets someone,” said Reiko Kasai, chief instructor at JAL Academy, an intercultural training school.

“It is part of a greeting with which one shows his or her willingness for the meeting,” she said, adding that given his height, Obama may have chosen to bow so low to make eye contact with the emperor.


Before meeting the emperor, foreign envoys and visitors are usually told that bowing is important, said Isao Tokoro, professor of imperial studies at Kyoto Sangyo University.

“When visiting a foreign country, it is an admirable international manner to follow the country’s own protocol,” he said.

“It should be praised and never deserve criticism. In Japan, bowing never means the person underestimates himself.”

While some conservative commentators on U.S. talk shows charged that the gesture bespoke a United States that had become weak and overly-deferential under Obama, Japanese media took a more positive view.

“If Obama simply walked up to the emperor and shook hands as he stood tall, he would have looked very arrogant to us,” said a Japanese presenter with Nippon Television.

Phew.  You are off the hook, Pres.




14 thoughts on “On/Off the Hook

  1. I’m going to keep getting mammograms just so I can feel frivolous.  And I’m not even 40 yet!I’ve been studying Pres. Obama’s bow for when I go to Japan next year.  (Which I’m really doing.  Probably won’t meet the Emperor, but still–gotta be prepared.)

  2. Hey, I don’t plan on getting a mammogram until 50 now that the pressure is off.  But I don’t quite understand the “no self-checks” stance – is it because self-checks rarely turn up anything serious?  I’m sure there’s more to the story, but as I am relying on you & madhousewife for most of my news updates now, I feel only partially informed (no offense).  haha.  Seriously, I had not yet heard anything about the Obama bow until I read my xanga updates…  

  3. And TR, I read about this on my Blackberry while waiting for my daughter’s pediatric appointment.  I nearly started shouting and stamping my feet in the waiting room!!  (Come to think of it, I would have fit right in with that behavior.)  I don’t know exactly how – but this just stinks of political maneuvering.  Someone wanted this to come out now, as people are “fearing” the future of “big government medicine.”  Now all the women are supposed to convince their families that the government wants to withhold mammograms and discourage us from even feeling our own boobs.  I’m pissed at this committee and I’m frustrated because you just know the loony far right is going to be all over this for their own agenda.  Grrrrrr.

  4. My sister-in-law found a lump on her own and ended up having a radical masectomy—under age 50!  She’s been cancer-free for several years now.  I, myself, get a mammogram when I feel like it…not often.  As for bowing or not…When in Rome…

  5. As someone who lived in Japan I can tell you that not bowing would be extremly disrespectful.  To not follow the customs of the people you are visiting is also just ignorant.  To say it shows weakness shows a complete lack of understanding of a very simple concept.  Can republicans really be that stupid?  Oh wait, they made Sarah Palin a VP candidate.  Right, I think I answered my own question.  As for mamograms I think they should fall under the perview of plummers.  Oh wait, I meant Traffic cops should decide how often you should have any given medical procedure.  Wait… It’s a wild notion, but maybe you and your own personal doctor should decide this based on your personal preferences, family history and personal health history.  Nahhhh that’d never be a good way to determine access to medical services.  Just ask your HMO administrator, he knows that isn’t the way to dispense health care.

  6. Did you see Dr. Love’s comment?  “These new recommendations are long overdue. Most countries do notsupport mammography screening under 50 and do it every other year after50 in their government-sponsored screening programs,” said Dr. SusanLove, founder of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.Glad I send no money to her foundation.As for the Pres. bowing, his wife got in trouble for her greeting to the Queen of England I hear.  Can’t please any anti’s can ya?

  7. Faux News, ha ha ha ha ha! That is hilarious!Anyway, I am still confused about the breast exam thing. I think there should be numbers out there to evaluate this stuff and if they contradict popular wisdom, fine, but let’s make sure the sample sizes are good and the sample women are representative of the actual population. I would like to see the stats that go with these assertions.  It seems like that should be obvious, but clearly “evidence-based medicine” is pretty new-fangled still.How can people be so ass-backwards as to flame up about politeness?  Do they know nothing about Japanese culture? And that Japan is our friend?  And why is respect a problem? I suppose if you think “fuck you” is a valid foreign policy statement, fine, but that seems a bit unsophisticated to me.  Bow away, Mr. Obama!

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