October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - as if you couldn't tell by all the pink-ribbon logos on products, 60-year-old Liam Neeson in hot-pink underwear, and football players, young and old, wearing pink football gear.
Even the White House has turned pink.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women and the fifth leading cause of death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urges older women to get their mammograms.
Breast cancer has touched millions of lives, so it's natural to want to donate to charities that help fund research for better treatment or even a cure. But which charity will use that donation wisely?
Self magazine, in its "Women's Cancer Handbook 2012," lists three of the best and three of the worst cancer charities in terms of how much of the money raised goes directly to research.
The magazine based its choices on data provided by watchdog organizations such as Charity Watch, which analyzes how some 600 charities spend the money they raise.
For each group, Charity Watch looks at the percentage of money that actually goes to research versus the amount plowed back into the organization for salaries and further fund-raising. The best charities give 75 percent or more of the money they raise to research or other charitable programs, spending only 25 cents out of every dollar on administrative costs.
So if you're thinking of making a donation this month, choose a group where it will do the most good. Among the worthy breast cancer groups receiving top grades are the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (also top rated in the Self article), the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund and the Breast Cancer Fund.
In other health news:
Have you had a recent steroid shot for back pain? Shots linked to 35 cases, 5 deaths from rare meningitis. Patients who received steroid shots in their lower back to relieve pain caused by ruptured disks or spinal stenosis in the past few months may want to contact their doctors to find out if the medicine is involved in an outbreak of a rare fungal meningitis from contaminated injections. The Associated Press reported that health providers are scrambling to notify patients in nearly two dozen states that the routine steroid injections they received for back pain in recent months may have been contaminated with a deadly fungal meningitis.. The drugs have been recalled, but health officials warn that more cases could develop and early treatment for the disease is critical.
Vitamin D does not prevent colds or infections, study finds. The winter cold season is almost upon us, but unfortunately, vitamin D does not appear to help us avoid sniffles or respiratory infections, according to a recent study. New Zealand researchers say previous vitamin D studies that showed some benefits were either poorly done or had mixed results, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new study finds very little difference in the number of upper-respiratory infections between the group that took the vitamin and the one that took a placebo.
Photo: ekelly80 via flickr