First off, Happy Pie Day!
Now that I have your attention, I’d like to change to focusing on female menstruation. (That’s easy enough). As a girl, it is quite easy to understand through experience the delicate changes nature and nurture can provide to a woman’s menstrual cycle. It seems like the central issue revolving around menstruation is what a “normal” cycle is, particularly its duration. Thus, to avoid being outside or a routine cycle, birth control is often a solution (however beneficial it may be) to this concern. I am interested in what constitutes as the “biological norm” for humans. Years ago, our ancestral mothers experienced only around 150 [http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2003/02/02/farewell-to-aunt-flo.html] menstrual cycles as opposed to the 450 women in westernized nations have. Many cancers are reduced with fewer periods, while still maintaining the ability to reproduce.
“"[H]ormones and tranquilizers are often used to fatten livestock and keep them calm, respectively. In people however, these drugs can be quite harmful"(161). The hormone diethylstilbestron or DES has been known to cause vaginal cancer and gynecological abnormalities in women, and because of these effects, DES was entirely banned in 1972. Recently one FDA official insisted, "DES has been used for over 20 years as a growth promotant in animals without any indication of danger to humans" (qtd. in Null 161-2)”. [http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=30720]
Yikes. This correlation is quite understandable, but the extent to which it impacts women is quite profound. It seems that the addition of hormones in a women’s body (from dairy and meat) emphasizes the difference in hormones already being experienced in the body…thus, women’s bodies are that much more sensitive to their level of hormones. This clarifies why my mom advised again drinking too much diary or eating meats during this time. Even still, this article elaborates on how the addition of hormones induces young girls into experiencing periods at an earlier age than the previous generation. It would be interesting to better understand Mother Nature’s outlook on this new pattern.
On the side, I’d like to share one such pattern of our very own Professor’s article http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/context-and-variation/2011/11/16/menstrual-synchrony/ ! Menstrual synchrony is a weird phenomenon that I myself even find truth to more often than not. My hypothesis before reading the blog about menstrual synchrony was that women in packs were/are more likely to have offspring around the same time? Which, from an evolutionary standpoint, make sense. To maximize the survival of offspring, a larger group of offspring is capable of providing a larger support system of social acceptance and health support increasing chances of survival. But there are very likely other factors that play into this natural and subtle correlation.
Overall, I personally find the holistic evolutionary development of menstrual cycles quite interesting. The role they play in sustaining the human race is very powerful. It appears that the interaction between the environment and women’s own interaction with one another and biologically play an even more vital role than we have been anticipating. As more countries become more westernized and modern, it will be interesting to watch the trend of how menstrual cycles in women adapt to new environments, and just as importantly, medicine.