Friday, July 22, 2011

The trials of being tall

In the fairy tales I was told growing up, all the pretty princesses were petite and the evil  villainesses were 'big and ugly'. Tiny girls were cute; big girls, not so much. Big feet also were highly undesireable. (Think Cinderella). No lotus buds sprouting from my ankles! I grew fast and then stopped around the age of 12. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I remember being told that I should be ashamed of myself for trick or treating because I was so big. I was eleven!

On top of the cosmetic defect of being too tall, I read recently that it is associated with increased risk of cancers for women, specifically breast cancer but also other cancers associated with 'over-nutrition' such as ovarian, uterine, and colon. Is the American diet making us too tall?

I know many foreign born my age. All of their children are significantly taller and heavier than they are. These were not impoverished people but back in their homelands, they did not eat the American diet that their kids do now. Hormones in the meat? Too much dairy?

The subject of our cancer survivor cooking class was soy. More than half the participants had estrogen positive BC and are trying to avoid estrogens. Soy has estrogen like properties. Numerous studies have been done and the results are very mixed whether soy is harmful to survivors. Cultures in which soy is the principal form of protein have low rates of hormone induced cancers though these same cultures eat very little fat or dairy. We made a French chocolate silk pie from soft tofu; stir-fried Thai tofu and tempeh fajitas.

People in this class are in different stages of their stay in Cancerland. A new woman there is a BC survivor but is currently dealing with cervical cancer treatment. She said that BC was a walk in the park compared to what she is experiencing now. My tumor is bigger than your tumor. Well though a lot of women suffered more through chemo than I, I hardly found it a walk in the park and I was a bit put out. The cervical cancer though is scary. Current recommendations are having a pap smear only every 3 years if you had a string of negative smears. She came down with symptoms within 2  months of an "All clear". It had already spread. So much for it being a slow growing cancer.

Another person has bladder cancer, which is unfamiliar to most of us. Someone asked what the risk factors were. Smoking. Yeah she smoked. A friend of mine's husband died due to a brain tumor from lung cancer mets and she is continually asked if he had smoked. Should she mourn less?

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