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Health & Sex

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Cynthia Nixon on Love, Sex, and Women's Health

The Sex and the City star talks about playing Miranda, her battle with breast cancer, her fabulous 40s, and her next role.

The New Mammogram Guidelines

Nixon's surgeon, Paul Tartter, MD, echoes her concern, saying he was "flabbergasted" when he learned of the new guidelines. "One patient after another kept telling me that if she had waited until 50, [it would have been too late to be successfully treated]," says Tartter, senior attending physician at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center's department of surgery in New York.

Still, it's important to put the USPSTF's new screening guidelines into perspective. The task force recommends "biennial screening mammography for women ages 50 to 74" and says the decision to start the screening before 50 should be an individual one, taking into account a woman's values about certain harms and benefits. Diana Petitti, MD, the previous vice chair of the task force, said in a statement last year, "So, what does this mean if you are a woman in your 40s? You should talk to your doctor and make an informed decision about whether mammography is right for you based on your family history, general health, and personal values."

Another area of debate is whether diet can be linked to breast cancer. According to
Tartter, who is also an associate professor of surgery at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, billions of dollars have been spent trying to verify that connection, but the results are inconclusive. However, he says patients with high body weight or those who gain weight after treatment have poorer outcomes.

Nixon, who has experimented with various levels of meat in her diet, has settled on a mostly vegetarian approach. She eats fish and eggs and uses beef and chicken broth when cooking soup or risotto. On special occasions she allows herself some prosciutto on pizza or a slice of bacon. But at home, she regularly prepares big salads, and Marinoni (a former education organizer and the stay-at-home mom of the pair) is the authority on cooked vegetables. She also makes uber-healthy (or "yucky," according to Nixon) morning juices that include carrots, kale, apple, red Swiss chard, and ginger, plus the occasional beet greens and spinach.

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