Bunion risk may add to Condoleeza Rice’s regret over Katrina disaster

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has written an upcoming memoir, to be released on Nov. 1, that recounts some of her memorable moments working under the George W. Bush administration. One such event was apparently a shoe shopping spree that occurred just as Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast of Louisiana.

Rice wrote that she received a call from the Homeland Security Secretary just as the storm was rolling in.

"He said he'd call if he needed me," she wrote. "I hung up, got dressed, and went to see Spamalot," the musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "The next morning, I went shopping at the Ferragamo shoe store."

After the severity of the situation became apparent, Rice said she felt great regret.

"I sat there kicking myself for having been so tone-deaf," she wrote. "I was the highest-ranking black in the administration and a key adviser to the President. What had I been thinking?"

Oh, Condi, Condi, Condi. Don't you know that towering Ferragamos at your age put you at a significant risk of developing bunions? I mean, ignoring a national tragedy is one thing, but putting your foot health at risk is quite another. Have you ever seen a bunion, Condi? Have you? It ain't pretty.

A study that was conducted by researchers in Australia and the UK, published in the March 2011 issue of Arthritis Care and Research, suggests that aging women are at the highest risk of bunions when compared to any other demographic. That puts Rice, who will turn 57 on Nov. 14, directly in the bunion danger zone.

Moreover, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that African Americans are more likely to develop bunions, hammer toe, corns and flat feet than their Caucasian counterparts. High heels are known to exacerbate each of these conditions, since they often squeeze the foot into a narrow shape and put undue pressure on the forefoot.

"These foot disorders are very common among people age 45 and older, and can lead to more serious problems such as falls, decreased physical activity and decreased quality of life," said Yvonne M. Golightly, P.T., Ph.D., lead author of the paper titled Racial Differences in Foot Disorders: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.

So, Condi, how are those feet feeling? If you've started to notice a bony protrusion on the inner edge of your foot, you may be developing a bunion. Luckily, bunion splints or orthotics can help reduce the appearance of bunions or hammer toe without the need for bunion surgery.