News + Spicy Foods Question

So, it seems that my voice is improving now by leaps and bounds. I attended seminar yesterday for the first time since the surgery and it was fun. As predicted, I was totally wiped out in the evening but that was hypothyroidism and not anything voice-related. Also, my friend Kembrew McLeod is giving a talk on telelphones and music at the EMP conference and asked if he could call and record me reading a couple lines from my mp3 manuscript about phones. I counterproposed that I record myself and run it through a phone filter (I actually gave him a choice of 3 different ones from the bizarre and amusing “Speakerphone” plugin). It turns out that was a good idea. It was a little more trouble than I expected but it was interesting to try and see how difficult it would be. I discovered that I don’t have the vocal power to read my usual long sentences and so had to cut them up. Also, I needed a few takes but “nailed it” at the end (by “nailing it,” I mean my voice didn’t crack like a 13 year old after a smoking binge). Since the goal here is to be able to deliver lectures and given academic talks again, it’s good to have a little test, even if my voice will be temporarily decimated one more time.

In more important news, I got a call from my endo yesterday with test results. The blood test says my tumor indicator is very low and that as of March 12th I was “profoundly hypothyroid,” which is two kinds of good news. The tumor marker means that the radioactive iodine “worked” and that I don’t need another round of it right now. He agreed that my continued fatigue is probably just hypothyroidism and not something else (I don’t know why I’m so relieved by a diagnosis but I am). I will still have to wait another month to do anything as my synthroid dose was too recently changed to change again. The whole body scan showed nothing as well, which is also great news. The report indicated some liver uptake, which I guess is normal, but it’s small enough that they can’t see it on their own equipment. I’m having a liver ultrasound as a followup just to be safe, but he seemed totally unconcerned.

Mostly I trust my doctors, as they have not steered me wrong and have been very careful and doting in their treatment. But I am skeptical on one front. I asked about my continued taste bud issues. My endo also told me to avoid spicy food and that that would help my taste buds. I must confess that I am suspicious that this is some anglo thing about blandness. I got the same recommendation regarding my vocal cord and M and I have talked about whether this spicy thing is a bit of a colonial myth. Large swaths of humanity each heavily spiced food every day. My understanding is that capsicum actually stimulates the pain receptors on your tongue and not your taste buds at all. Is there really sound medical evidence for avoiding spice to encourage taste bud recovery post RAI (or any other trauma)?

I did a quick google search and got nothing of significance, and pubmed has no hits on “taste buds” and “spicy foods” together as search terms (ditto for “vocal cords” and “spicy foods”). Of the 150 hits on spicy foods, a 2007 study of reflux sufferers concluded that fat was a much bigger issue than spice in causing reflux (note: it’s only one study, I’m not saying it’s proven fact). A review article offered a similar conclusion. No studies in my 150 hits showed any causal relationship between spicy food and acid reflux, vocal cord trauma or issues with taste buds. Now, a lot of commercial spicy food is also high in fat. That delicious curry down the street may be full of 35%mf cream and high fat content does seem to be an issue for reflux, which is bad for vocal cords.

So, where’s the evidence?

My pubmed search also turned up this hilariously titled article:

“Optimizing the sensory characteristics and acceptance of canned cat food: use of a human taste panel.”

I wonder what they had to pay the test subjects for that one.