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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tequila Sunrise and the Silicone Valley

Greetings from San Diego dear girlfriends.I find myself on a little “business” jaunt in an attempt to make myself a little smarter and pick up some sun and sandals. I attended the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association and after almost a week of sun, poolside and yes, diabetes education, a good time was most definitely had by all.

San Diego does have a Barney’s and yes, I managed to visit the mother ship in between meetings. One does need to expand one’s wardrobe along with one’s scientific consciousness, no?

A fabulous meeting overall. My skin is darker and my brain is bigger.

I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and they were kind enough to upgrade me to a suite which overlooked the pool. The goddess shined upon me even more, when I found THE pair of shorter Jimmy Choo motorcycle boots which really do make me feel complete as a person.

To top this all off…. The Norma Kamali bathing suit I had ordered in Vancouver over the Internet from New York City days before was delivered to my room in San Diego and waiting for me when I checked in. The Secretary of State could learn a thing or two from my international shopping finesse.

I checked in and decided to tour the gas lamp district and explore. I met a lovely man called Manny at the local wine shop who gave me a lesson in tequila along with a taste test. As my cybersisters will recall, my liver is not my best feature and so, three sips in and I was sufficiently buzzed. I decided to use my liquid courage for good and returned to the hotel pool with enough courage to don my newly arrived NYC bathing suit and challenge my melanocytes to darken or die.

There I sat poolside in a bikini feeling far too confident for the size of my bottom. Incidently, a tequila tasting rally is the most effective way to feel ridiculously good about oneself while in a bikini.

Make no mistake- I’ve spent a lot of time in a gyms, on bicycles and in pools and have ran more miles than I can safely recall…. Sisters…. I have a relatively healthy sense of self esteem to begin ith. I know I will never have a 20 year old’s perfect body- and I ma actually good with that. I like being as healthy as I am.

I easily spend 2-3 hours a day on a bicycle and can hold my own on any run or ride.

That being said, 10 minutes at a tequila tasting did more for my sense of self in a bikini than years of physical training, nutrition and self talk. Manny’s magic potions put me poolside in a bikini with enough Moxy to last me all day. In my mind… I was Gisele Bunchen with a medical degree.

There I was poolside at the Hard Rock Hotel people watching when my next blog idea literally jumped out at me from beneath the agave hum.


Turns out poolside at the Hard Rock, I am not the only one who has had tequila at 2 pm on a Thursday but I am the only one who does not have silicone breast implants.

No judgement here, girlfriends… just the topic for my next blog… YAY!

The Food and Drug Administration on June 22, 2011 released a position paper stating that although Silicone breast implants are safe, but some will likely need to be replaced within 10 years.

According to the FDA 20% of all silicone implants will need to be replaced within a decade. That number rises to about 40% when the implants are placed for reconstructive purposes following mastectomy.

As far as the history of implants goes, some of my girlfriends will recall that silicone breast implants fell out of favour in the early 1990’s when concern arose over their rupture. From 1992-2006 silicone implants were banned in North America.

In 2006, the FDA released a position paper advocating their safety and once again women could rest easy knowing that their implants would not kill them.

According to the FDA 20% of silicone implants will need to be removed due to complications with their insertion. The FDA has also identified a slight increase in the risk of lymphoma in the breast in association with silicone implants.

The FDA has identified 60 cases of cancer out of 5 million to 10 million women who have the breast implants worldwide. That cancer, called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, normally occurs in the breast in only 3 in 100 million women, so the dozens of extra cases raised red flags.

This new FDA data comes from manufacturer follow-up studies involving 40,000 women. This data was required by the FDA in order for the manufacturer’s to get approval for two new implants in 2006.

The implants, manufactured by Allergan and Mentor Worldwide, were approved for augmentation in women over age 22 and for breast cancer patients of all ages.

Silicone implants have a softer feel than saline and were once the agent of choice for breast implants.

In 2010 half of women receiving breast implants had silicone and the other half had saline.
Here I was poolside in Silicone Valley. I wondered how many women would need to upgrade their cleavage in a decade or so….

I sat back and let the sun wash over me. I let the tequila continue its effects and I took comfort that in 10 years time my although my “girls” would be small and real and the only thing I would need to replace would be the Jimmy Choo motorcycle boots I had bought earlier at Neiman’s.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Those MotherF**kers

I find myself attempting to mend these days my girlfriends. You see as all of you know, my beloved city was violated beyond belief last Wednesday all in the name of… I’m not sure what. Please don’t get me started but a vile bunch of degenerates felt the need to make a point and here I am left with trying to make sense of it all.

I know this blog has its reputation as a girl who can laugh anything off. Hell we’ve spent the last year and a half bantering back and forth like girlfriends. I talk…. You listen. This is the agreement we made so many months a go. But now I find myself a little less in the mood for laughter and Louboutins and a in need of a few lines of reflection and resolution.

It’s been a shitty week. I live in the heart of downtown Vancouver and each day I walk by the aftermath. That was my Chapters and my London Drug, damn it! This was my living room and some bullshit kids marched in on a rampage in the name of history or freedom or just getting caught up and they acted like savages.

I can rant on about the insanity and the vulgarity of it all but I suspect all has been said in a much more eloquent way than I could possibly manage. These people were just plain awful and I have no longer the words nor the insight to put this in its right place.

I know the psyche of my city will mend. I know that its citizens will heal. I’m a doctor and doctors know the capacity of the human spirit. I’m a diva- as a diva I realize the power of a good outfit to elevate and transform.

A study published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences in March of 1998 attempted to examine physical attributes of PEACEMAKERS at a sports riot- those who would intervene to stop the riot.

One hundred and thirty male spectators attending a Finnish ice hockey game were asked to indicate their response to a fight erupting nearby in the stands. Fully 61.1% indicated they would watch, 26.2% would try to stop the fight, 5.6% would leave the area, 4.7% would encourage the fighters and 2.4% would join in.

I thought about this a lot as I watched some of the videos of the riots… where were the women? I thought. I noticed in the footage the obvious lack of a female presence in the crowds. Was rioting strictly a “male dominated sport”?

In fact if you look at history there are a variety of papers written about the disparity of female rioters throughout history. This was obviously a cultural issue back int the Detroit Riots of the in the 1940’s or the Memphis riots in the 1880’s or those at the turn of the century in Russia. These were times when women’s rights in general were an issue. Women could not have any voice let alone a violent one and so I am not surprised by this.

But if you look at the riots in Los Angeles in the early 1990’s or the Vancouver city riots in 1994 or in 2011- Where were the women?

I am not upset by this. I’ve always assumed that as women we are far superior (sorry boys). But it is an interesting phenomenon that such a disparity exists. Is it that we have better things to do? Are we just by nature less violent?

I’m not sure what it is an I suspect I will continue to ponder this long after the glass has been replaced and the charred streets washed and rewashed again.

I don’t’ know if there is a lesson in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots. I’d like to think that the lesson was the day after when the streets were filled with thousands of Vancouverites ready to help clean up.

I know that all too often as human beings we focus more on cleaning up the mess than preventing damage done. We suck at thinking ahead and spend much of our lives dealing with one aftermath or another.

I know my sense of hope and optimism is only slightly bruised but most definitely not battered. There will be many more days ahead some disappointing when it comes to other human beings. Some people will not measure up for me and others will exceed my expectations.

This city has taught me so much and for that I am grateful. Vancouver gave me a new way of life when I moved here and I will never be able to repay the favour.

My city was wounded and I was unable to prevent the hurt.

For now…. I continue to walk my streets and drink my coffee and live my days in defiance and wonder. This is my city and one that has been ever so good to me. There may be uncertain days ahead- but I believe in my city. I believe in Vancouver- in its goodness and in its magic. I believe that everything gets wounded around the edges and comes back to be stronger than before.

I believe in you, my dear girlfriends in your love of all things fabulous. You are my positive little deviants. Now get out there and live your life - do good unto others and do me proud.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Nail in the Coffin

I’ve been polishing my nails lot lately dear girlfriends. Yes, this is trivial…. But really, I ask you… will this blog change the world? Really? Settle down. I know social media is the new way of the future and hell- it has brought democracy to the masses and freedom to the future… blah, blah, blah. It’s a blog, cybersisters- settle down.

So here I am polishing my nails lately. It is something I do often in order to prevent their biting that is one of my last vestiges of a bad habit.

I find that polishing my nails has allowed me to add a new accessory to my outfit.

Allow me to explain.

I had a mentor in medical school who truly was and still remains- my hero. Her name was “Dr. C.B.” and she was first and foremost a “kick ass lady”. She had brains the size of which one rarely sees in a lifetime. Equally matched was her sense of compassion. Finally- she had a pair of proverbial balls that were bigger than the shoe department at Bergdorf’s.

This woman was something.

Even better- she had great style. Her fashion sense was a “bit out there” but she pulled it off perfectly. She wore these amazing 1980’s inspired outfits with fabulous shoulder pads and matching nail polish.

Every week she would have her nails painted in one artistic form or another and would wear outfits colour coordinated for that week based on the weekly nail art.

Think David Bowie ala Ziggy Stardust meets Alexis Carrington.

For those of you reading this blog who don’t know who Alexis Carrington is…. Dynasty, my little sisters- look it up.

Dr. CB. combined a sense of fashion with a brilliant mind and a moxy and she was my idol- hands down. She was the medical equivalent of Katherine Hepburn.

Now many years later- I try and emulate her in my daily clinical life. I try my best to be a good clinician and to use my brain as often as possible.

I don’t wear much 80’s inspired suits but I like to think that I believe in fashion as much as the next self-respecting diva.

Finally- I do paint my nails. Not like Dr. CB- I tend to prefer a “do it yourself” job. But they do get a polish at least once or twice a week.

Last week I discovered formaldehyde free polish by a new company called “Butter London”. This is not a plug for Butter London. I have no idea whether nail polish should have formaldehyde or not. I mean I do put my polished nails in my mouth from time to time but is formaldehyde in nail polish the same thing as led in paint? Should I be worried? Should there be a recall?

I’m sure Dr. C.B did not use formaldehyde free nail polish and she certainly seemed to have all of her functions in tact at all times.

Since those many years ago, I have learned a lot about the medical profession and even more about the polishing of nails.
Nail polish first came of age during the time of the pharaohs when Egyptians wore painted nails to signify status.

Nail polish is actually composed of a chemical called nitrocellulose – which is also used in film processing and in making explosives. Nitrocellulose is dissolved in a solvent such as ethyl acetate and pigments are added. The basic components of nail polish are a resin to make the substance hard and a film forming agent to make it coat. Polish is also composed of a plasticizer, a solvent to keep all the chemicals in liquid form, a colouring agent and an adhesive polymer to ensure that my damn nails don’t look like shit two days after a polish. Attention CHANEL nailpolish… pay attention.

I’m off on a rant dear girlfriends… but CHANEL is French for “chips in 24 hours”.

Dibutyl Phthalate (aka: DBP) is one such plasticizer that first came to market in the 1930’s. It is made from polyvinyl chloride and is found in the coatings of medications as well as nail polish. It is know to give polish its longevity.

And yes, my cybersisiters… like all good things, it causes cancer. Testicular cancer to be exact.Testicular cancer in rats and humans.

And although my balls are quite big, safe to say this is the one cancer that I am not personally afraid of. Interestingly the testicular cancer of which I speak has been shown to be in the sons born to mothers both rat and human with high exposure to DBP.

A Study published in 2008 in the Journal of Occupational Health was designed to measure a manicurist’s exposure to DBP and risk to their health.

Forty manicurists submitted to urine testing pre and post shift to determine their exposure to DBP during their workday.

Turns out there was a statistically significant increase in their urine concentrations of the metabolites of DBP compared to those Manicurists who wore gloves during the shift.
Should I be concerned? I don’t have testicles, I am not a rat (no comment peanut gallery) and I am currently not planning on growing a boy inside me.

Turns out the cosmetic industry will provide.

In 2006, several cosmetic companies took DBP out of their products as well as formaldehyde. Many of them even moved to water based nail polish.

This explains why over the last five years I’ve noticed that my self made manicures look like Lindsey Lohan after 3 days and I am forced to chose “chip friendly” colours these days or else I must change polish every two days.

Again my dear girlfriends… we slave and we suffer- our hands look fabulous but we must endure in silence. Now if you will excuse me… those bastards at Chanel have come out with a new colour that is harder to get than good service at a Starbucks. My toes are calling and I must respond. Paint on my sisters, in the name of the pharaohs… paint on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

1, 2, 3, 4

Girlfriends- let’s face it.

Life is about the numbers….

The first question we ask a toddler is… “How old are you?”
(Well that and “Sweetie, can you get your little dirty fingers off Mommy’s friend’s Prada bag?)

At work, I’m often asked about the numbers…

How long will I have to take this medication?
How high is my cholesterol?
How much weight did I lose?

In my everyday life… It too comes down to a numerical game…

How many pairs of black patent pumps does a woman need?

How many eggs could I sell to pay for the new fall lines?

Then there are the questions of my patterns of behaviour.

How many hours of sleep do I get a night?

How many cups of coffee do I drink in a day?

Truth is we all deserve some answers.

So here goes…

A woman’s right to shoes knows no bounds. A pair of black patent pumps is the fashion equivalent to knowledge. … Keep searching and the universe will provide.

I do get 8 hours of sleep a night and I drink 3 shots of espresso every morning and two cups of coffee throughout the day.


I am told I drink too much coffee. This is often by people who don’t drink coffee and like to pass judgment.

Back in the 1970’s there were studies that suggested an increased risk of heart attacks among coffee drinkers. But the debate in the literature was never clear…

Remember my cybersisters…. The 70’s were the era when smoking was encouraged and spandex was king.

In response, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health decided to look at coffee consumption, heart disease and stroke risk among more than 45,000 healthy men enrolled in the school's ongoing Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Their analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990, found that coffee drinking had no effect on the men's risk of heart attack or stroke.

A 2008 study of more than 26,000 male smokers in Finland found that the men who drank eight or more cups of coffee a day had a 23% lower risk of stroke than the men who drank little or no coffee.

Results from an even larger study of coffee drinking and stroke risk were published in the journal Circulation in 2009: Among the 83,000 women enrolled in Harvard's ongoing Nurses' Health Study, those who drank two to four cups of coffee a day had a 19% to 20% lower risk of stroke than women who drank less than one cup a month.

SO yes… my girlfriends…. It is about the numbers.

I’m a 40-year-old woman with far too many shoes. I brush my teeth twice a day. I have 4 credit cards, 2 dogs and never enough Prada handbags.

Some of my numbers don’t make sense… others will never add up…

But as far as my coffee consumption? I’m just right…