Monday, May 10, 2004

Day After Mother's Day Thoughts

Answer: Mother's Day.  Queston: What can be the hardest day of the year?


Mrs. Linklater wonders how many women celebrated Mother’s Day without their mothers, because they died of breast cancer? 


Her own mother died from breast cancer at fifty. 


Since then, Mrs. Linklater has noticed that every woman she knows who was diagnosed with breast cancer, except one, was on birth control pills, HRT, smoked cigarettes, or, unfortunately, combined two or more of these. Not to mention some other risk factors you don't hear much about.


Mrs. Linklater's mother was raised on a farm and was an avid, accomplished gardener. She could make anything grow.  And she often used a big metal sprayer to control garden pests and weeds.  She also cleaned it out religiously every time she finished using it. Without gloves, without a mask. Exposing herself to poisons which, it has been determined, become estrogen-like compounds in the body. The longer the exposure to excess estrogen, the higher the risk for cancer.


She also drank lots of coffee. Caffeine in coffee doesn't cause cancer; it exacerabates cystic breasts, which makes the breasts dense and lumpy, so it's difficult to discern growths manually or visualize them on a mammogram.


At 44, her mother started using a body cream that had estrogen in it -- a recommendation from her Beauty Counselor cosmetic rep. This new cream was the latest thing for women of a certain age who were about to embark on the adventure called menopause. The cream would help keep the skin soft and supple, help prevent wrinkles, the usual b.s.


Mrs. Linklater, who was seventeen at the time, tried some of the cream with her mother's encouragement. She put a dab on her finger and smoothed it on her face.  Immediately her face turned an angry red where her finger had wiped it across her skin.  Wow, this stuff is strong, she said to her mother. Well, I guess it's too strong for teenagers, her mother replied.


Over the years, Mrs. Linklater has come to the realization that the cream was so loaded with estrogen, it was too strong for any woman who used it. [After years of anecdotal evidence and now hard studies, estrogen is finally listed as a cause of cancer.]


You can't buy estrogen-loaded body cream over the counter anymore. That should make you wonder why they took it off the market. And what happened to all the women who used it? 


[NOTE: There is currently a topical estrogen cream for "dryness." By prescription.  Mrs. Linklater thinks any woman who uses it should reconsider. Especially if she smokes.]


For some reason, around two years later, Mrs. Linklater's mother, an accomplished tennis player, began smoking again. At forty-eight, having trained several months for a championship tennis match, she found a lump in her breast a week before the tournament.  She had a radical mastectomy the next day.  The lump was diagnosed as a very aggressive cancer, which had already metastasized. 


Still, even after missing the tournament, she was out playing tennis two weeks after she had surgery -- with a drain in her arm. Very sadly, she died two years later.  Pesticide exposure, estrogen cream, smoking.


Mrs. Linklater has never smoked, doesn't drink coffee, always hires a lawn crew, quit birth control pills after three months, nursed her babies [which provides protection] and will never join the ranks of the hormone replacement babes who were dropping like flies until the latest government warning that HRT isn't all it was cracked up to be. [NOTE: After 15-20 years on the HRT, you can pretty much count on getting breast cancer, even with no family history, not to mention the opportunities for uterine cancer and gall bladder problems. Don't go by Mrs. Linklater, start asking women who have had breast cancer.]


Years ago, Mrs. Linklater had a friend in her forties whose doctor prescribed birth control pills for symptoms of menopause. Birth control pills in her forties? Why not HRT? Regardless, her friend also smoked.  The alarm bells went off and Mrs. Linklater warned her friend not to combine the two. "Stop smoking.  Stop the hormones. Especially stop doing both of them. You could get breast cancer."  Unfortunately, her friend ignored her.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years later.


When Mrs. Linklater went to visit her friend with a basket of flowers, prior to her surgery, her friend was clearly not happy to see the person who had predicted her cancer.  That old "kill the messenger" thing. Mrs. Linklater saw her now former friend once more at a restaurant with a scarf over her bald head because of chemo. Mrs. Linklater said hello. The former friend just glared back.  Did she survive?  Don't know.


Shortly after she turned fifty, Mrs. Linklater was invited to a menopause seminar for women in the area, sponsored by a local hospital.  Hundreds attended. Baby boomers. There was a panel of doctors.  And a lot of literature.  All of the literature was from Premarin, makers of HRT, Mrs. Linklater noticed.  All of the doctors on the panel were pushing HRT. She smelled a pharmaceutical plot to make a lot of money off women afraid to grow old. All in collusion with the doctors, because the docs seem to listen to the good news pushed by the drug reps without reading the fine print and deciding for themselves. Plus they often get paid by the pharmaceuticals to do "studies."  


Mrs. Linklater is also cynical about all these Komen and Y-Me races that raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer.


Why not just prevent it in the first place? She doesn't think it's a mystery why women are getting breast cancer in record numbers. Just track the introduction of pesticides in the forties, followed by the introduction of birth control pills in the sixties followed by HRT in the eighties.


The pharmaceutical companies continue to be audacious. They advertise birth control to young women as a pill that helps to reduce acne. That's like dropping an atom bomb on a fly. Which reminds Mrs. Linklater that there was once a time when radiation was touted as the hot new cure for acne. You gotta watch these pharmaceutical people. They missed the memo on integrity. 


Which brings up some questions: What is the percentage of young women getting breast cancer after 10 years on birth control? Can't find it. You could ask a nurse at an oncology clinic what she thinks. Also watch for new warnings about breast cancer on birth control pills.


What is the REAL percentage of women on HRT who get breast cancer versus women who have never been on it?  You never see those stats. Most statistics for breast cancer have been based on the entire female population, not just those who were on HRT.  The elevation in breast cancer seems very small that way.


Even after the recent studies, the pharmaceuticals still tell older women that HRT can reduce menopause symptoms. It's a tradeoff.  You could very well get breast cancer, but you won't have menopause symptoms. 


But that's not why women are on HRT. Mrs. Linklater took a poll of friends and everyone really counted on HRT to reduce their wrinkles and keep them sexually active. Breast cancer wasn't on their radar. Marketing.


The early testing that said HRT was good for your heart, and helps prevent osteoporosis [yet another story], etc., was paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.


The new study that said HRT wasn't such a miracle after all was done by a government agency. Ooops, all that extra estrogen isn't protection for your heart and there's a lot of evidence it causes breast cancer, sorry about that.


Sadly, Mrs. Linklater discovered all this for herself a long time ago.







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