Eat, drink, be merry and quick & get health insurance
Posted Sep 08 2009 9:37pm
The New York Times reported today on a study by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Conclusion: Women can cut their risk of breast cancer by almost half if they stay lean, exercise at least 30 minutes every day, breast-feed, and limit alcohol to one serving a day. Not shocking by any means, just common sense, but because this is a study of many studies (about lifestyle), it has numbers behind it. Many numbers. It's the largest study of its type ever conducted, according to the Institute. The AICR's director of research estimates that nearly 40 percent of breast cancer cases could be prevented if women followed this prescription. In other words, the AICR is blaming the victim. Sorta. It's so much easier to document what a person does than to figure out how exposure to pesticides and pollution contribute to tumors. Which is my theme song. But in the meantime, the AICR recommends a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans. There was no mention that I could see of the difference between organic and conventional foodstuffs. The AICR reported on another study that shows that pessimists and women with "cynical hostility" had a higher incidence of heart disease and cancer, and they died earlier than the optimists. Black women who were hostile were more likely to die of cancer. I want to make fun of this report because I have a lot invested in pessimism. I also want to point out that there's a difference between hostility and negativity and I think cynicism can be a sign of intelligence. It can also be a sign of stupidity and paranoia. How did the researchers spot the cynics? Besides hearing their frequent snorts of derision, the researchers "administered" a questionnaire, which I think means they read statements to the women and asked if they agreed or disagreed. Or it might mean that the women answered on paper. Sample statements: "In unclear times, I usually expect the best"; "If something can go wrong for me, it will." Cynical hostility was measured by reactions to to such statements as: "I have often had to take orders from someone who did not know as much as I did," and "It is safer to trust nobody." These were post-menopausal women, mind you. Wouldn't you expect that women in their 50s and beyond would have a history of being under-employed? It turned out that optimists lived in the western United States, had more education and money, health insurance, and attend religious services. They were less likely to have diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or depressive symptoms. Well wouldn't you be hostile if you were lacking in education and income, were jobless, didn't have health insurance and had diabetes or were depressed? So you could say that having health insurance makes you healthier and happier. I am cynically hostile to this report, which does not bode well for me. At the top of this post is a photo of a skeptical woman, which is not quite the same as cynical, but will have to do.