I am 90 years old. Unless my eyesight is to blame, it seems to me that my ears
are larger than they ever were, especially the earlobes. Does it have something
to do with my advanced age, or the fact that I pull on my earlobes to adjust
clip-on earrings and ear-plugs? What do your experts have to say about this, and
can anything be done about it now? – Z.P., Ganei Tikva
Dr. Ronen Perez, director
of the otology unit of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, answers:
you are right. As we get older, our ears seem to be larger. Throughout
the years, this has been studied by several researchers, and a number of
theories have been suggested.
The leading and most logical theory is that
because the skin loses its elasticity and strength with increasing age, the ears
sag due to gravitation, in a similar way to other body parts. The sagging or
drooping lengthens the ears and makes them appear larger. The drooping may be
somewhat enhanced by heavy earrings. Theoretically this can be corrected with
Prof. Mark Clarfield, a veteran gerontologist at Soroka
University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University, adds:
Indeed, ears do grow
larger with age. A very interesting study in the BMJ (British Medical Journal)
in 1993 established this fact. A British general practitioner measured the ears
of a randomly selected group of 206 patients who were 30 years and older, and
found that ear size grew by an average of 0.22 millimeters annually, or a
centimeter over five decades.
Other studies found that women’s ears are
smaller than men’s, but that the ears of both of them grew in size as time
passed. Among the reasons given is that the ear’s skin and cartilage sag
as people get older.
Wearing heavy earrings can also cause them to get
larger. Some researchers claim cartilage grows over the years, but others argue
that the cartilage in the ears is only being replaced and does not grow
In my opinion, ears seem bigger as one gets older because of the
relative shrinkage of some of the facial/skull tissues, which makes the growing
ears look even bigger than they are. In the end, it is all a part of normal
aging and something to borne with a bit of fortitude, if not a sense of
Does one need to wash fresh fruit and vegetables in dishwashing
detergent and water to avoid insecticides and dirt, or only in water? – N.S.,
The Health Ministry comments:
It is recommended that fresh fruits and
vegetables be cleaned in the following way: First, wash the produce carefully in
running water to remove bits of dirt. Then dip it in water with liquid detergent
and brush it to remove bacteria and some pesticide residues. Finally, wash it
well in tap water and dry it by exposure to the air or using a clean paper
I am a 23-year-old man and healthy, but in the last two years, my
maternal aunt, fraternal uncle and a grandmother have developed various cancers,
including lung, colon and esophageal tumors. I worry that my family has a
genetic tendency for this, and it has made me rather anxious. Are there any
lifestyle changes I and other relatives can make to reduce the risk of cancer? –
Natali Shemesh, a clinical dietitian at Tel Aviv Sourasky
Medical Center’s integrated center for diagnosis and prevention of cancer,
Many cancers have no genetic basis, while others – like some breast
cancers – do.
Screening is recommended. Colon cancer, for example, can be
prevented by undergoing colonoscopies after the age of 50.
changes you can adopt to reduce the risk of cancers include keeping your weight
normal and minimizing your intake of sugar and unhealthy fat (trans-fat). This
alone can reduce the risk of colon, breast, uterine, esophageal and pancreatic
cancers in your family.
Physical activity on a regular basis cuts the
danger of colon, prostate, uterine and breast cancer.
of five different colors, which represent phytochemicals, minimizes the risk of
cancers of various kinds. For example, regularly eating tomatoes – which contain
lycopene – can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
directly on a fire should be avoided, because high temperatures can cause the
formation of amines that are carcinogenic.
Eating garlic and onion may
reduce the risk of these carcinogenic substances. But in general, other cooking
methods such as steaming, baking and stir-frying are preferable.
your consumption of red and processed meats; prefer chicken and fish to red meat
whenever possible. Reduce your drinking of alcohol, drink green tea, and add
turmeric (kurkum in Hebrew) to foods. Cutting your consumption of salt in
processed and canned foods is also recommended, as is adding little or no salt
to the unprocessed foods you cook and eat; instead, herbs and spices are
recommended for giving food more taste.
Consult your family doctor on
whether you suffer from a lack of vitamin D and ask if you need to take drops of
the vitamin regularly, as having enough of the vitamin is believed to cut the
risk of getting various types of cancers.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries
from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find
most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem
91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it
to email@example.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.