Monday, January 21, 2013

Week One Assignment - Chapter Five

Andrea Wiley and John Allen present many interesting topics in Chapter Five. The one that I found most relatable to my life was the discussion of size and weight, especially in terms of overweight and obese children.

In our society, talk of weight loss and weight gain are prevalent almost everywhere. There are diet ads on the radio, TV, and computer; there are entire shows that focus on weight loss (i.e. “The Biggest Loser”). Talk of weight loss or dieting will happen in almost any conversation with an adult. But children are a different story. The authors of this article discuss how childhood obesity is much more of a problem in rural areas, due to the lack of adequate and nutritious food, as well as activities to keep children active—all arguments that are commonplace. This struck a chord with me personally. In this case alone, the adults investigating this so-called epidemic are basing their measurement of children’s general health on weight and the BMI scale alone. The problem with this is that BMI only measures the relationship between weight and height. It doesn’t take into account muscle mass, bone density and structure, or even differences between men and women. I have watched so many people struggle with their weight and base it off this scale alone, not taking into account any other measurements of health; a perfectly healthy individual could be overweight or even obese on this scale and vice versa. So, while reading this, I personally did not agree with what the researchers were doing.

Beyond that, however, the article mentions something that I was pretty confused about. It states that rapid growth is associated with rapid rate of cell turnover, which can lead to rapid reproduction of malignant (i.e. cancer) cells. The article says that this may be associated with a specific protein that assists in growth. What I don’t understand is that the article then draws the conclusion that height is positively associated with a risk of cancer. They cited a study that proves this, but when you hear about cancer prevention, it is never mentioned that taller people are at a higher risk. I am skeptical of this and can’t help but wonder if there’s a confounder in that correlation somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I have to disagree with you. The cancer development mechanism described makes perfect sense (more cells = greater cancer probability). It may not be widely talked about for many possible reasons, ranging from not being researched enough up to blatant concealation for somebody's benefit.