Monday, March 31, 2014

Reproduction: First Reader Response

I have always had an interest in medicine; that much has always been clear to me. I am always interested in medical advances, but I have rarely given thought to how these advances could hurt the already advanced human body's capabilities.We often do not give enough credit to the body's capabilities, and we often intervene with medicine. 

In regards to birthing, from my educational standpoint, medicine has played an important role. However, this week's readings have shown me a different side to women's reproduction and birthing rights. One specific idea stuck out to me from Professor Clancy's article: Occupy Uterus. 

The use of medicinal intervention in births was something I thought was completely normal until now. After reading the article, I changed my mind. I think the natural interventions that can be performed by women during birth are more empowering and give more confidence in a process that has been performed for ages. I also believe that this confidence gives feelings of power back to women who are often made to feel submissive under a doctor's care.

I would not advocate that women completely ignore a doctor's care, but naturalistic approaches should not be entirely discounted. Medicinal interventions are a major advancement and could help truly distressed patients. However, the natural process has been taken for granted and could potentially lower mother and infant mortality rates.

We are often blinded by new technologies and acquiring the next best thing. In this era of change and shiny new toys, we often forget about the original and dependable things that get us through the day. Therefore, midwives could be the old, reliable tool that we have left behind for bigger, brighter things. And education on natural births and the potential benefits would, of course, be positive to women everywhere. 


I personally have always been scared of the idea of pregnancy and giving birth, especially without help from a doctor. In history classes I always have gotten the impression the risk of death for the mother and the child is very high and problems can occur at the drop of a hat. However I always thought that the mother was the one in control and I am slightly shocked to see that is not always the case. Of course I do not mean with the doctor; obviously the doctor would be the one in control along with the women if not more.

  The baby decides when to come out not the mother. Now that I read this idea of the baby being in control it makes sense; but now I have a question. If the baby decides when it is ready to come out then why are so many people choosing or being told they need to induce? Since one of the articles states the due dates are not actually very accurate then that would cancel out that reason to the question I stated. Why is there a need to have a baby at a certain time? This really makes me wonder why women do not trust their bodies. Maybe it could simply be that they are like me and are scared of giving birth because they have gotten the impression that giving birth is dangerous.

Reproduction-First Reader

After reading the article Late Pregnancy, Labor Induction, and the Occupy Uterus Movement the part that I found that really stuck out to me the most was the part that stated “We consider the due date—which I imagine my nephew acknowledging with a nod of his head as he hunkers down for nine more days—as a sort of deadline. If you are still pregnant after that deadline your baby is “overdue,” and the cultural signal is that you have failed as a mother (you haven’t)” (p 4). What originally stuck out to me most in that was the joke that was made about her nephew. However, when I looked deeper into it I thought about how that was prevalent in my own life. A year and half ago my niece was born. I remember each day waiting for her to come to this world. Four days after my sister in laws due date, Macey still had not come. I remember doctors telling my sister in law worrying news about how there may be something wrong because the baby is late. But in reality, like the article says, due dates are not actually very accurate because they are determined by the last day of a women’s period and not their ovulation. Three days later, Macey was here and healthy as ever. All the worrying, but nothing was wrong.

I think that in the world we live in today, giving birth is a set time, with a set procedure, when in reality giving birth is so variable among mothers. This causes so much more worry in mothers than it should and because of this some of the energy that goes into being excited for a new child to come into this world is turned into energy that is used for worrying about the pain and all the bad that comes with giving birth. Giving the baby as much time as it needs is important, and we should no try to coax the baby out of the mother if the baby is not ready.

-Rachel Ogdon 

Reproduction - First Reader

The assigned readings that I am responding to are the article, "Late Pregnancy, Labor Induction, and the Occupy Uterus Movement," and the blog post, "Why do those who advocate home birth feel the way they do?"

A theme in both works seems to be that expecting mothers do not have as much control over their bodies as how it ideally should be. If the woman goes to a hospital for her baby's birth, the staff controls the birthing process through medication. Political interventions may deprive women of choices that affect their reproduction. The baby itself takes control away from the mother, as "the most reliable mechanism to get a baby out, barring complications, is to let the baby come out on its own." (Clancy, 30)

I've watched a lot of television and in the shows, pregnancy is usually depicted as a time where the everyone in the show begins a nine-month-long term of servitude to the expecting mother. The whole -"I'm pregnant and I want lobster within five minutes." followed by "Yes, dear. Will there be anything else, dear?" - sort of thing.

From my experience with various television sitcoms, I was left with an impression that pregnancy liberated the woman. She calls all the shots now and everyone else tries to appease her. I was surprised to read that my preconceived notions of pregnancy were incorrect, as "pregnancy leading to liberation" does not seem to be the case in real life, where pregnant women currently have very little control over their bodies and their situation.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Searcher 3/20 - Women know something you don't

Many of the online discussions this week were discussing the reading, “ Women Know Something You Don’t” and how women undergo things due to abortion that people will never understand, whether it be their reasons or their feelings after the procedure. This article in the New York Times bring to light all the struggles that women who have considered or undergone abortion must go through.

The article is present in an array of stories from women all across the country. After reading the stories the common things that I noticed were that the women did not want to bring their babies into a bad lifestyle, they felt judged by those that don’t agree and they had no knowledge about abortion. All of these influences led them to their choices, whether they were right or wrong.  But regardless of their reasoning it was theirs choice to make, because others, those judging them, weren’t going to be there to help them raise the child if they didn’t go through with the abortion.

Many people are against the idea of abortion because they think it is essentially killing a human. However, as seen in many of the stories in the article, abortions are often done to protect the child, whether it’s from an unsafe lifestyle due to low SES or health problems that the child would be born with. These are all things that protesters don’t consider when thinking about the banning of abortion.

People really don’t know all that women have to go through when dealing with pregnancies and weighing out their option. This article does a good job of illustrating these issues through the stores of women who have suffered through it themselves.

Reproductive Trade-Offs and Cultural Views of Women's Health - Searcher 3/20

This week’s readings left me questioning the biological trade-off that oral contraceptives and industrialization have left us with.  If it more beneficial for women to have 400+ menstrual cycles in their lifetime, thus developing a slightly greater risk for breast cancer, or should women take an oral contraceptive to have fewer periods in general, with no decreased risk of cancer?  Chapter 9 specifies that, “the present generation of MSOC’s contains the same synthetic estrogen and progestogens as conventional oral contraceptives” (189) making it clear that the benefits of hormonal birth control make menstruation less of a hassle and prevent pregnancy.  I found the comments of surveyed women to be the most interesting, as they many recognized the inconvenience of menstruation, but often opted for the benefits of what supposedly accompanies remaining as natural as possible.  In order to further research this many-sided issue, I spoke to some of my local friends.  I found that the majority of them went on a pill because they had irregular cycles and their doctors suggested they take the pill to regulate themselves.  However, they also found severe mood swings, and weight gain as negative side effects.  While the pill can beneficially regulate cycles, it seems to be a “one-size-fits-all” type deal as opposed to a custom fitting, where the amount of each hormone a person needs may differ slightly, or significantly, from patient to patient. In the future, pills may be better suited to their users, which could decrease the risk of breast cancer, lessen the hassle of menstrual cycles, and better fit the extensive biological variation seen in any biological function. 

The second piece of research I conducted looked more closely at cultural views of women’s health and abortions.  Upon reading 50% of women in Hong Kong liked their periods, I knew there had to be a cultural reason behind their reasoning.  Sure enough, it is because “they see it as a way to ‘get rid of bad blood’” (193).  The article below examines how various religions view menstruation and explains how those views originated.

Cancer and oral contraceptives: Searcher

After doing the readings and discussing in class how oral contraceptives can increase chances in cancer, especially in younger individuals I decided to look more into this. I found a article on the National Cancer Institute website about oral contraceptives and cancer correlations. It says that those whomever takes oral contraceptives does have an increase in the chances of breast cancer, however after 10 years of no longer taking the pill your likelihood of cancer goes back to normal (as if you never took birth control). This is really interesting to me because taking a pill that could potentially cause you to get cancer was very unappealing to me, but knowing that after you are off the pill for a number of years then everything goes back to normal, it doesn’t seem that bad. The information on this credible site is interesting to read because it also goes on to discuss what else could happen by taking oral contraceptives, but it is interesting to see how the side effects can be reversed to back to a time before taking the contraceptives. It says regardless of your family or medical history, if you had no chance of cancer before taking the pill, although your chances increase, after 10 years it’ll be back to normal. This is very important to mention, because telling people that if you take oral contraceptives at a young age can give you cancer is pretty scary, but if you also tell them after 10 years of being off the pill everything goes back to normal I think they wouldn’t be as nervous.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Delaying you period with birth control pills (Searcher)

When reading chapter 9 I was very interested in the subject of how oral contraceptives work to delay periods. I think that it is cool that birth control pills can allow you to go against nature and have you not get your period. I looked up an article called “Delaying Your Period with Birth Control Pills” to find out some more information on if it is safe to delay or not even have your period. This article said that if your doctor gives you the okay that your pill is not harmful to use it to delay your period then you are in the clear. This article also mentioned the benefits of not having your period which I thought was interesting to read. Periods are such a hassle and always seem to come up at the most inconvenient times. It said that a lot of women use the pill to either delay their period or not have it happen that month if there is a special event, like a wedding. One of my friends actually uses the pills to make it so that she never gets her period because of health issues. Supposedly not having your period can make you in a better mood because your hormone levels are more stable. Since she suffers from depression she uses the pill so that she never has to get her period which allows her to not suffer as much during that week. I think that using the pill to control when you get your period is an awesome idea. I have to admit I am a little afraid to try it, but maybe if I get my confidence up I will!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Women Know Something You Don't (A reader's t̶a̶n̶g̶e̶n̶t̶ response)

As someone raised in a household in which my views and doubts have always been dispelled by my Catholic parents, the abortion issue was never too much of a problem. I’d throw my dad a question as a curious middle schooler and he’d ponder the thought for a moment and counter with the usual. At the time, I went to a Catholic private institution and spent my time with Catholic students and equally religious parents. I didn't know much. And even to this day, I am surprised by all the interesting and perplexing mentalities that I have missed during my childhood days.

I don’t necessarily blame my parents for my upbringing (...sort of). It’s analogous to what we discussed during our week on depression and how many cultures can’t wrap their minds around the concept of someone having a depressive disorder. My parents don’t understand this at all either when I try discussing it with them! It can be frustrating but they've been raised to believe a certain way and it’s hard to change things that have been deeply rooted in your family history. Fortunately, my stubborn personality, persistence, and outlook has made them (mostly my mom really) consider other possibilities. I’ll be forwarding the article “Women Know Something You Don’t” to her. 

In terms of the actual article (excuse my tangent), I think the author was extremely insightful and focused. She threw at me point after point as to why women are entitled to carry out what they see fit with their individual bodies. Their bodies are theirs and the Catholic church or whoever/whatever else shouldn’t dictate what they can and cannot do with them. What really had me nodding my head in surprise and delight was how she provided historical evidence to further emphasize her argument. I had no idea that forms of contraceptives and abortifacents have been around for as long as they have been. I thought her points towards the end of the article were a little...exaggerative because I can’t see THAT level of control over a woman’s body. If something like that were to happen, my hope in humanity would dwindle by much. BUT I guess the reason I wasn’t particularly fond of it was because of how much the possibility frightens me. The thought of the government looking into our backgrounds and the thought of getting charged for murder over preventing the birth of a child of a rapist, the child of a poverty-stricken family attempting to save it from entering the unsafe environment they live in, the child of a mother destined to die due to childbirth, the child of a mother pursuing her dreams.

But no. Regardless of the situation, the mother is selfish.The mother is a killer. These statements that have circulated in my mind freely and have lied dormant within it for so many years was shattered eventually. The ignorance and even misogyny that I have unknowingly allowed myself to be a part of is shocking...

Women Know Something You Don't

The title of this article rings true for me. I had absolutely no idea that contraceptives and chemical abortifacents existed long before their modern forms. I also did not realize the dangers of pregnancy. Maternal mortality is something we read about in old literature, but almost unheard of in our culture. Since this was sort of an unspoken practice, I can suppose that the general cultural consensus in Western culture was that life begins at conception.

Even if we were to assume that life began at conception, I see some major pitfalls to making abortion illegal. We would first have to establish a penalty for any woman who has an abortion, which would cause more controversy. As the article implied, women who miscarry would suffer suspicion and possibly social rejection as in Kenya. There would also be many unsafe underground abortions which would lead to more deaths. If contraceptives were to be restricted, they would probably become like other illegal drugs: still common, but only bought and sold illegally. Without making any judgement on the matter, I find it very unrealistic to outlaw abortion and birth control, as it could arguably make pregnancy as dangerous as it once was.

"Women Know Something You Don't"

This article is a striking and powerful argument in favor of legal abortion.  The author writes, “If deprived of safe, modern mechanisms for doing so, they will continue with the dangerous versions with benefits that, for women who turn to them, don’t outweigh their risks.  Make no mistake about it.”  Herein lies the danger of lawmakers making reproductive decisions for women, who have been using contraception and performing abortions, legal or not, for thousands of years.  Women who want to prevent pregnancy or end an unwanted pregnancy will find a way to do so, no matter what.  Taking any sort of moral argument out of the picture, legalizing abortion has been a fantastic achievement for public health because the number of unsafe abortions being performed has dropped dramatically.  

The author mentions a report that tried to link abortion to mental health issues.  The report, however, did not investigate whether or not abortion led to increases in mental health issues or if women with mental health issues are more likely to get abortions.  Such an article is not only misleading, it is irresponsible.  Although abortion is currently legal in all states (but restrictions differ among them), there is an ever-present threat of this right being taken away.  A report like this one gives the wrong idea about the health consequences of abortion, and could undoubtedly have very powerful effects on how the subject of abortion is viewed by the public and lawmakers. 

Week 9 First Reader

Being a girl, I found this week's reading to be really interesting. I remember seeing a commercial for Seasonique, which is a menstrual suppressing oral contraceptive (MSOC), a few years ago and thinking that having your period only four times a year sounds great and all but would that really be healthy for you?  Back then I didn’t really think about the mismatch between contemporary women living in industrialized nations and our ancestors. Women’s in today’s society on average have an earlier age at menarche, later age at menopause, and a later age a first birth compared to ancestral women. This results in contemporary women who use contraceptives having about 400-459 menses throughout their lifetime while our ancestors might have only had a median number of 94 menses throughout their lifetime (Sievert, pg185). From this you can see that there is a great gap between the number of times the modern women menstruates versus the ancestral women. Sievert also goes into the four hypothesis of why evolutionarily humans menstruate. The first hypothesis states that menstruation is an evolutionary byproduct of endometrial preparation for pregnancy; so using MSOC is neither bad nor good for your health. The second hypothesis is that menstruation is for the purpose of removing pathogens from our body that are associated with sperm. In this case using MSOCs could be bad for your health since it could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. The third hypothesis is that menstruation removes defective embryos from the body, so as long as a woman isn’t at risk for becoming pregnant using MSOCs will not negatively impact her.  The fourth hypothesis suggests that menstruation is an indication of whether or not a woman is fertile.
I also found the article, “Women know something you don’t” to be really interesting. In the last election, Mitt Romney wanted the constitutional amendment stating that life begins at conception to be passed. He didn’t understand that would make most contraceptives illegal, and oral contraceptives help reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.

What Women Know

My best friend and I attended a Catholic high school together. Given that the Catholic Church is staunchly anti-abortion, we were blasted with moral arguments in our theology classes as to why the Church takes this position. Naturally, being 15 or 16 years old and rather impressionable, my friend went home from school one day and promptly told her mother she was pro-choice. Now, my friend’s mother is from Ghana where, in her lifetime, abortion was illegal (it is now legal, though with restrictions). She promptly sat her daughter down and explained to her the often dangerous realities women have to face when access to abortion is restricted. Needless to say, my friend thought about abortion a lot differently since that talk.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that it was my friend’s mother and not her father who spoke so frankly with her on this subject. Women know something you don’t. Childbearing and birth control are facets of every woman’s life whether she decides to have children or engage in potentially-reproductive sexual activity or not. More often than not, ideas regarding control over a woman’s body are passed down from other women in the family. After all, the onus of birth control is more often than not placed in the woman’s hands, and it is she who must deal with the consequences of a pregnancy most directly. Women know something you don’t because they have to.

Ironically, many women remain surprisingly unknowledgeable about their bodies. For example, relatively new types of birth control that can reduce or even eliminate altogether menstruation are often viewed with no small amount of skepticism by women. I’m a little ashamed to admit even my reaction upon first hearing about Seasonique (the “four periods a year pill”) was to invoke the naturalistic fallacy: Isn’t it unhealthy not to menstruate naturally?

Well, no. It’s perfectly fine not to. While hormonal contraceptives can pose their own potential health risks, using hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle isn’t in and of itself harmful. Nothing “bad” is going to happen to you if you don’t ovulate. Yet, as a culture, we seem to have this notion that not menstruating each month is unnatural and therefore unhealthy.

However, today more and more women and girls are opting to take some form of hormonal contraceptive, whether as birth control or to alleviate painful pre-menstrual symptoms. Perhaps this common misconception will soon dispel itself as women start passing on this knowledge amongst themselves.

First Reader Week Nine

From this weeks readings on the female reproductive model, what I found most interesting was the differing opinions, culturally, that were held about menstruation. According to the typical American viewpoint, menstruation is always looked down upon and dredded. But other cultures do not view it in the same light that I have always heard. Pages 192 and 193 of chapter 9 focus on the cultural impacts and views. In answer to the question, “Do you like having periods?”, 50% of women in Hong Kong, 33% in Shanghai, 35% of White women in Cape Town, 75% of Black women in Cape Town, 26% in Scotland, and 81% in Nigeria all said that yes, they did “like having periods”. I found the cultural differential astounding. Going into this part of the chapter, I knew there would be cultural differences, but I didn’t not expect the differences to be quite so vast. It would be extremely interesting to have a greater background on these women's perceptions of menstruation. I would like to know why Nigerian women feel so positively about it, and why Scottish women feel the exact opposite. Why, even though 81% of Nigerian women answered yes to “do you like having your period”, why do 73% of Nigerian women also answer yes to “would you consider a method of contraception that stopped your period”? Even though such a large percentage of Nigerian women “like having their period”, would they prefer not to, given the choice? This would make for an thought-provoking research study.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Searcher Week 8 Cancer

This article examines the rhetoric used when talking about breast cancer, specifically the war like rhetoric and gives a brief history of this rhetoric. It is very interesting as the author does point out that this metaphor of war and cancer can help some women especially when the process of becoming healthier is long and frightening this idea of fighting and being a warrior can offer hope. But there are also downfalls to this rhetoric. One thing the author suggests is should women have to describe their experience this way or are there other ways. The author mentions how this metaphor is used so much that women adapt it into their own testimonies because the experience is indescribable, but maybe there are other ways that women would feel more comfortable or ways that might better describe their experience. The framework of war is also hard because any experience that does not fit this rhetoric is hard to portray (for example anger is generally not expressed in these war terms, instead hope is more of the focus). In class it was mentioned low-dose chemotherapy treatments could be a possibility. That wouldn't necessarily kill cancer cells and would leave them in place helping a person to live longer but with cancer. If people are thinking in this war metaphor then they may view this cancer treatment as a failure and feel it is not their best option. This could lead to many people not enjoying the benefits simply because our culture views a person as being healthy by not having these cells largely present. The rhetoric we use for cancer ca greatly influence how people go about treating and understanding it. I'm sure people who have cancer research it more to understand exactly what is happening in their body but I think the public may need to be educated more on how cancer works, as we discover the inner workings of it so that they may help those close to them who have cancer. Letting people know that they don't have to experience cancer in a battle comparison and instead can just face it as an illness and look for the best treatment could help people be more open to change and allow for better expression of experience.

Male Breast Cancer (Searcher)

Week 9 covered the topic of cancer, with a special focus on breast cancer. Now, breast cancer is often associated with females, which makes sense at the surface level - girls have breasts, ergo they are susceptible to breast cancer. As it turns out, though, males can get breast cancer, too. 

Developing breast cancer is a very distressing ordeal no matter what sex someone is, but if a doctor diagnosed me, a male, with breast cancer, I would feel a certain demasculinizing distress along with the distress of knowing that I have cancer.

Psychological Distress in Men With Breast Cancer explores the psychological distress in men with breast cancer. It details a study of 161 men living with breast cancer through surveys. "Specific aims of the survey were to examine the prevalence of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and cancer-specific distress in men with breast cancer, and concurrent associations between clinical, demographic, and psychosocial factors and distress in these men." (quote found in the introduction)

The article concludes that men want more gender-specific information about living with breast cancer. The article also emphasizes the importance of increasing the awareness of male breast cancer.

Note: The article admits that the study was methodologically limited.

The article can be found through this link:

Searcher (Cancer)

This article that I found talks about BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, which is what we talked much about on Wednesday. The first part of this article talks about what BRCA 1 and 2 do. Without mutation, BRCA 1 and 2 help keep breast cells growing normally and repair cell damage. We talked about in class how when they are mutated, it can cause cancer. One thing in class that I found interesting was that there was a really small percent of breast cancer that was actually cause by BRCA 1 and 2 mutations and this article emphasis that. It states that only 10 percent of breast cancers are cause by BRCA 1 and 2.
            This article goes on to talk about a study that was done to try and find the best age to have your ovaries or breasts removed if you find that you have a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation. In this article, it says that while it says that for some woman it is absolutely a good idea to get these parts removed, for many women, it can cause more harm than good to their bodies. They include a small section about Angelina Jolie getting a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed, which is also a topic that was brought up in class and talked about how the social media gets involved and how many breast cancer adds are actually offensive.

            In conclusion they found that woman should get their ovaries or breasts removed if they have a mutation before the age of 35, which is contrary to what was previously recommended (35-40). I would like to know more about this topic such as how does one find out that they have a BRCA mutation? However, I found this article related very much to our discussion for the week.


Searcher week 8

I found this article and was fascinated with it. A new study that is being done shows a link with certain types of cancer and height among women. Of course this is not saying that women who are tall will get cancer but it will help researchers look in to growth factors that may influence cancer. This study has not only found a link with women, but also men.  After what we learned in class yesterday about environment actually being the main influence of cancer I am wondering how height fits in. I thought height was mostly something you got from your parents, with certain environmental factors only changing ones height a little. Maybe they are going to look at how height is influenced through ones environment as well as other factors, such as food intake?  I also wonder if they have done a study on shorter people to balance out their findings. Are shorter people less likely to get cancer, or certain types of cancer? Or are they more likely to get other types of cancers that taller people are less likely to get?   I am interested to find out the results of this study after it has been going on for a couple more years. I never would have thought to look into height when thinking of cancer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Trade Offs

One of our first readers discussed the positive correlation between higher caloric intake and higher likelihood of developing cancer. He also summarized that greater caloric intake leads to more energy being put towards reproductive processes and sex hormones. This well-illustrates the trade-offs mentioned in the article "Evolutionary Foundations of Cancer in Biology." I would like to expound upon that notion even more.

Nesse originally gives us the example of fast wound-healing and its downside, higher susceptibility to cancer. The same phenomenon comes from the fact that an organism with fast-growing cells also allows its cancerous cells to also quickly grow. Knowing this, we can better understand why higher levels of reproduction would have the same effect. At least for women, it takes a lot of energy and cell growth to develop a fetus, so naturally, women who can more easily have children would have more fast-growing cells, and likewise higher susceptibility to cancer.

Another first reader brought up cancer prevention. After understanding that there are trade-offs, we should first ask ourselves if we really want to interfere with our bodies in such a way that prevents cancer if it reduces our hormone levels (assuming we have the technology to live with cancer in a way that it does not kill us). Right now we do not yet have that perfect technology, but at some point we may need to ask ourselves this question.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Can't Have It All (Respondent)

One of the First Readers expressed surprise that improved quality of life—at least with regard to energy intake—can simultaneously lead to an increased risk of cancer.

It is, without a doubt, counterintuitive to think having access to more food and nutrients can also have negative consequences for the human body. Although, this fact quite perfectly gets at the heart of what evolution is all about. In a sense, the logic of “no good deed goes unpunished” applies here: for every good adaptation, there is always cost. In the case of the relationship between energy intake and reproductive cancers, it is that more energy is being funneled into pumping up gonadal hormones levels that, down the line, may increase risk of developing diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer.

Although the Jasienska article didn’t address it directly with data, it is likely that the so-called “secular trend” (the decrease in age at first menarche in girls living in industrialized nations) is also feeding into the trend toward an increased risk of reproductive cancers. The culprit, however, still seems to be an increase in energy intake coupled with a rise in rates of physical inactivity.

Trying to find the best lifestyle to decrease one’s risk for these sorts of health issues may often seem as though you’re making the best of a bad situation. But if there’s anything we can learn from the impartial process of evolution, it’s the tradeoffs are just a fact of life.

First Reader

Being an MCB major, the topic of cancer and cell reproduction is of particular interest to me. Reading of this evolutionary cause to cancer was refreshing because I was only aware of the cell mechanisms that cause it. When thinking of natural selection, competition on such a microscopic level does has never crossed my mind. The fact that cancer cells can mutate so rapidly and can vary so drastically among each other within the same tumor puts natural selection in their favor. This brought me to what I would have found to be a counter intuitive way to fight off cancer before reading this article, chemotherapy. A lot of us think of chemotherapy as one of the more effective treatments for cancer, but it can actually be deadly. Chemotherapy in high doses will select for those mutated cancer cells that are resistant to this treatment, and allow them to reproduce without competition from other cancer cells. In lower doses, one can maintain the size of the tumor by balancing an amount of chemo-resistant cancer cells and regular cancer cells. I feel as though it is important not only to understand the mechanics of cancer, but also why it has evolved this way in order to find a cure for cancer. If we can combine the findings from these two fields of study, I think the future is bright in finding a cure.