Cochrane's Age and Height ChangesHere is a theory regarding the changing appearance of Zephram Cochrane between TOS: "Metamorphosis" and ST: "First Contact."
In "Metamorphosis" McCoy says that Zephram Cochrane has been gone for 150 years. That episode takes place in 2267. If we took 150 literally, then he left in 2117. Then Kirk says that Zephram Cochrane was 87 at the time. 2117-87 = 2030. If FC takes place in 2063, then Zephram Cochrane is 33. "150 years" is rounding off however. In ENT: "Broken Bow," which takes place in 2151, there's a recording from Zephram Cochrane from "32 years ago, shortly before he left Earth" in 2119. If he left at 87, then in 2063 he would be 31 years old. James Cromwell does not look 31 years old however.
The poison Dioxin (found in Agent Orange and recently used to poison the Ukranian Presidential challenger - making him look much older) was suggested as a cause, which indeed accounted for his changing facial appearance, but nothing could account for his great increase in height - almost 7 inches from Glen Corbett to James Cromwell.
I suggested that he may have had a disease called acromegaly caused by a tumor developing on his thyroid due to radiation exposure. This causes his thyroid to release the hormone GHRH, which in turn causes an abnormal release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland in the brain.
The chemical changes of acromegaly result in exceptional growth of long bones. This variant is called gigantism, with the additional bone growth causing unusual height. An individual's hands and feet begin to grow, becoming thick and doughy. The jaw line, nose, and forehead also grow, and facial features are described as "coarsening". Due to swelling within the structures of the throat and sinuses, the voice becomes deeper and sounds more hollow. Patients with acromegaly often suffer from headaches and arthritis.
Because the symptoms of acromegaly occur so gradually, diagnosis is often delayed. The majority of patients are not identified until they are middle aged. In fact, the characteristic coarsening of the facial features is often not recognized by family members, friends, or long-time family physicians who think it is just part of the aging process, albeit unusual at such a young age.
While surgery can cause rapid improvement of many acromegaly symptoms, most patients will also require additional treatment with medication. Bromocriptine (Parlodel) is a medication that can be taken by mouth, while octreotide (Sandostatin) must be injected every eight hours. Both of these medications are helpful in reducing GH production, but must often be taken for life and produce their own unique side effects. With treatment a patient with acromegaly may be able to live a normal lifespan.
It would easily explain why he was such a heavy drinker as well. The disease is quite painful.
No offense meant to James Cromwell of course, but the conditions do sort of seem to fit, right down to the headaches and the deep voice.
(Theory by Bond, James Bond)