Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Read it and freak

As I may have mentioned, my mom is a breast cancer survivor - she's been cancer-free coming up on 15 years in January. I am always amazed at her resilience and at how brave she was, having her breast removed and reconstructed all in one long, arduous procedure. I know she worried about dying, and worried that she would never feel the same about herself ever again.

There was no prior history of breast cancer in my family (we're all big heart disease freaks instead), but the doctors seemed to think that one reason why the tumor began to grow with any speed was on account of the hormone-replacement therapy my mother was on to combat severe hot flashes and other menopausal nastiness. HRT has since been linked to cancer. Despite this connection, you still see Philly's own Patti LaBelle in TV commercials shilling Prempro, although she says she no longer endorses the drug. Guess they got her bound in a contract. I wonder if she still cashes their checks?

The lack of a family history of breast cancer is starting to make sense now that bisphenol-A, in low doses in childhood has been linked to breast cancer later in life. That means juice in shatterproof plastic bottles, tomatoes in cans lined with BPA (to extend shelf life) and your kids' plastic toys. A legislative effort to nix some of these chemicals from children's toys failed last week after industry scientists argued there was no cause for concern.

Also, those life-saving mammograms? Dose you with radiation and can cause more harm than help, especially with the program of early detection that's been pushed so hard. I remembered reading something about AstraZeneca piloting an "Early Detection is Your Best Prevention" program (a phrase that doesn't even make sense, because how can you prevent cancer when it's already been detected?) while also manufacturing cancer-causing pesticides. Gee, I wonder who's profiting from encouraging women to have an annual mammogram from age 40 in order to detect their cancer early? Astrazeneca also bankrolled Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984, a PR coup that's still going strong. AZ's cancer drug, Tamoxifen (which my mother took for five years) is the bestselling cancer drug in the world, though they've ceased to manufacture it under its brand name, Novaldex, as of last month. It is still widely available as a generic.

What can you do? To get started, you can go here (warning, PDF), scroll down to the second page, and read the six ways to reduce your exposure to carcinogens. You might not be able to undo what you were exposed to in your childhood, but you can fight the good fight in your adult life, if nothing else. And it certainly doesn't hurt to perform monthly (or even semi-regular) self-exams - after all, 40% of breast cancer is detected by women or their partners. Making these a regular habit and avoiding mammograms until after 50 should help keep you and your breasts out of radiation's reach.


At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I am always in awe of how well-researched your posts about medical or environmental issues are. I knew about the toys, and the lined cans, but I didn't know about mammograms. I thought women were supposed to start getting those at 40. I'll have to talk to my Doctor. Being adopted means I know nothing of my family history, so i wonder if I can hold off on the mammograms until 50. Thanks for all the great info.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Melissa said...

This is really timely and confusing. I just found something the other day that doesn't feel "normal". Of course, I made an appt with my gynecologist, but what if she agrees that something is out of whack and then recommends a mammogram? I guess it would make sense to get one if something might be amiss? Maybe?

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Tits McGee said...

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Melissa, about a year and a half ago, my doctor wanted me to get checked out for some lumps she found in a routine exam. She recommended an ultrasound, I had one, and they were able to determine, pretty much immediately, that the lumps were functional and not a problem. They went away shortly after.

Maybe you can ask your doctor if ultrasound would work for you, too?

I'll be thinking of you, and I hope all goes well. Chances are very good that it's nothing to worry about. Good luck. :)

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Dan said...

"A legislative effort to nix some of these chemicals from children's toys failed last week"

That's sad but typical


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