Thursday, September 08, 2005

Don't worry, be harried....

This just in from Forbes: "Women with higher levels of daily stress showed a lower risk of developing [breast cancer], according to new research."

The article very cutely starts off by stating, "Here's news that could ease worries about breast cancer." But since "daily stress" is defined for purposes of the research as sleeplessness, tension, anxiety, impatience and/or nervousness collectively, "STAIN"), wouldn't NOT worrying about breast cancer be counterproductive to the goal of not getting breast cancer?

Ah, would that STAIN could lower the risk of developing breast cancer...if that were true then I would still be sporting my own set today. For most of my life, I made a virtual competitive sport out of STAINing. I was the hypochondriac running to the doctor for every ache and pain. I was the diva in a long dress, hat, scarf and sunglasses on the beach, lest I catch a single damaging UV ray. I was the insomniac watching Ben Casey reruns at 3 a.m. (whatever happened to that show anyway?) I was the bitch screaming bloody murder at the pizza delivery man because he brought me Coke instead of Diet.

Didn't seem to help even one teeny little bit. Not to mention the fact that it was kind of a sucky way to live (and for the record, I no longer live that way at all...big shout-out to yoga ya'all).

In all fairness, it's not as if the study authors are actually advocating stress as a preventative health measure. "Even though we find a lower risk of breast cancer among stressed women, let me just emphasize that stress cannot be considered a healthy response," said study lead author Naja Rod Nielsen, a research assistant at the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, Denmark. On the other hand, it is somewhat comforting to know that my years spent as a walking panic attack didn't GIVE me cancer either.

Still, I am left to wonder: If women who STAIN have a lower risk of breast cancer, then does that mean that the mellow girls out there have a HIGHER risk? Is a breezy attitude toward life now a risk factor? In short, does NOT being Type A put one at an increased risk for getting breast cancer?

Yet another Woody Allen classic comes to mind: Sleeper, in which a mild-mannered health food store manager is cryogenically frozen in the 1970's and awakened 200 years later to a world in which dog-bots are household pets ("Hello, my names is Rags, ruff, ruff"), universities give out Ph.D's in oral sex and all of the food that we thought would kill us turns out to be good for us after all:

Dr. Melik (inquiring as to life in the 20th century): You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible!

Incredible, indeed.



He's Dead, Jim! said...

Wow... makes intuitive sense. A "lower rate" does not mean "no risk," though, as you learned in the toughest way. What I am fond of telling my patients when they ask about a risk of something bad after surgery, I tell them this:

A one percent risk does not mean that only one percent of you will be affected. If you are the 1/100 who gets the problem, the problem happens to one hundred percent of you. That statement generally makes my point.

yoga chickie said...

This brings to mind a dialogue I heard somewhere sometime, maybe in a movie, or maybe it's something I, myself said:

Q: Why do you think your problems are more important than anyone else's?

A. Because they're mine.

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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