Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Great Cancer Myth: War on Cancer

In 1961, John F. Kennedy boldly declared that the United States would put a man on the moon in the next decade. The US poured $170 billion (in 2005 dollars) into a project that delivered success in the NASA moon landing and safe return in 1969. In contrast, Richard Nixon declared ‘war’ on cancer with the National Cancer Act in 1971 with the goal of a cure by 1976, but after some 40 years and $200 billion spent, we can safely say that cancer has kicked our collective butts a distance equal to that traveled by Apollo 11– nearly one-half million miles.

This year, cancer is slated to surpass cardiovascular disease as the country’s leading killer. In fact, since Nixon’s pronouncement, cardiovascular related mortality has fallen 70% against a drop of just over 7% for cancer deaths. To be sure, people are living better with cancer than earlier times, but they ultimately die of it in disappointing numbers, nonetheless. Even the reported progress, in terms of a cure, is a bit misleading, as much of the advancement comes in the form of additional longevity measured in months, after a diagnosis. A new drug that prolongs a cancer patient’s life by a few months is deemed a success, by profit-hungry drug companies who pay doctors to prescribe particular drugs.

There are recurring areas of cancer research that are often cited as contributing to the dismal results. The first is that scientists are not recognized and rewarded for saving lives, per their research efforts. The rate of useful therapies per research discovery is very poor compared to other diseases. Cancer research has also stuck for too long with animal models that many people say are irrelevant to humans with cancer. The National Cancer Institute, a major research funder, is known for preferring ‘safe’ research, study that is more status quo and less innovative. The leading complaint is that private funders of research are focused on ‘home run’ solutions that can be patented and will deliver boatloads of money, rather than training their focus on something much more doable, but less profitable - preventing cancer from the outset.

The real tragedy of the war on cancer is that it effectively could have been won, if the objective of those involved was to simply save lives, rather than to profit from saving lives. The human immune system is evolved to keep cancer in check, if only it is kept healthy and strong to do the job. The problem with this approach is that no one gets rich from true prevention – people just go on with their lives. The cancer industry has substituted profit-making early detection and life-extending therapies, in exchange for a focus on nutrition and behaviors that would prevent up to 77% of all internal cancers (here). However, if the current industry took this better approach, ironically, we would have to start calling them the anti-cancer industry.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

All this and it ends up being the same old blame game.
So it's the "cancer industries" fault the entire population won't try to eat better, sleep better, exercise etc. so they will have better immune systems.

You actually think they have the omniscience to have that much influence?

The cigarette companies have been putting health warnings on cigarette packs for how many years and people still ignore it and continue to smoke, especially the young. Same thing with alcohol.
And we know the ill effects of drug use but hey, idiots keep right on doing that too.
Anyone you can blame for those issues?

It's a safe bet that most people watch enough tv to have heard the benefits of a healthier lifestyle but they mostly keep right on eating the same old junk, not exercising, smoking, etc.

And the cancer industry is supposed to make them all do better....

What have YOU been smoking Mr. Collier?

James C. Collier said...

Anon 5:27, you speak like you earn your daily bread from those who take billions of public monies (NCI), but offer solutions that feed corporate earnings ahead of saving lives. From MD's to Researchers to Providers to Investors our health system is a nasty compromise. What does this have to do with self-responsibility, which I am all for?

Anonymous said...

Hey JCC, curious if you're going to comment on the Bobby Tillman incident.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 9:49, Not much to say about this senseless tragedy. I did catch flack when I suggested that [on some level] all in their right minds should fear black men. This stereotype passes the kernel of truth test with an A+, juxtaposed with such events, which are not as isolated as one would hope.

Anonymous said...

Responsibility and power begins with the individual and knowledge.

Each of us has the power to make ourselves do better and then to hell with the people you blame.

That's what bit it has to do with it.

But obviously your agenda has deeper roots which is the ability to blame someone other than the persons that suffer from diseases they could have prevented while KNOWING they were increasing their risk factors.

Sounds so familiar these days.

It's not my fault!

James C. Collier said...

Anon 2:18, You are a poster child for the guy with a hammer who thinks everything is a nail. Personal responsibility has nothing to do with cancer marketing, mis-directed tax dollars, and compromised research. If you put down the hammer and read a little of this blog you would know that blame-gaming is not my bag. I want people to benefit or suffer their choices without some doctor/company laying in wait with an expensive half-assed non-solution to their slackery AND and a pre-approved invoice to Medicaid.

Anonymous said...

Let's see if I can hit this nail on the head.

If the individual takes responsibility for his or her health and does what they need to improve upon it then the majority of your above entities will lose their power and influence over us and our wallets and we will be the healthier for it.

We can only control ourselves and all the moaning and complaining and conspiracy theorizing in the world will never change that fact.

Control yourself and your life responsibly and everything else falls in line.

Do you admit that many people's lives and most of our social ills of today would be greatly reduced if a much larger portion of society just did that one thing?

But it aint gonna happen because the "it's not my fault crowd" just has it too easy blaming anyone other than themselves for their lot in life and to your point, enabling those entities to take advantage of us by creating an environment for them to do so.

That's the source. Not the corrupt entities but ourselves alone for allowing them to gain a foothold over us by being half assed-slackers and blamers.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 3:56. Now we are getting somewhere. I add the caveat that much of the information (tax supported) about our taking better care of ourselves is manipulated by the medical community, beginning with research that is never pursued or unreported because it doesn't feed a system optimized to profit, rather than health efficacy. I agree that certain behaviors around eating/smoking/exercise are obvious, while others, like sunlight and Vitamin D serum levels, are not. In order for us to take effective responsibility, we need good information. Therefore, we must insure scientific integrity throughout. Drug companies paying doctors to prescribe drugs is a conflict. University research funded by for-profit corps is another. On and on...

Anonymous said...

Well I am glad we are getting somewhere. I thought we might eventually.

I recently started taking vitamin D3 after hearing how most of us are deficient in it.
I heard it from guess where?

NPR's Peoples Pharmacy radio show.

I think most people have heard of the benefits of taking better care of ourselves but unfortunately too many disregard that knowledge.

I hear, "you gotta die from something" from those types.

Or that they can't give up their favorite unhealthy foods.

I see guys that have had bypasses sit down to a breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, people with diabetes continuing to eat poorly and down those soft drinks.
I see fellow employees who are obviously suffering from sleep apnea that won't sleep with their CPAP machines, saying "I can't sleep with that thing", I hear people over 50 saying there's no way they would get a colonoscopy and I wonder what does it take for us as a society to attempt to better care for ourselves.

Colonoscopy? My dad died from cancer that probably came from colon cancer originally and metastasized years later.
I started getting colonoscopys at 42 and have had three.
They are not the big deal people make out of them.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about three years ago.
Sleep apnea is bad stuff. Raises your blood pressure and stresses your body and organs due to having low blood oxygen the entire time you are in bad.
I sleep like a teenager now due to using a CPAP machine.
I feel so much better, sharper, and don't have to worry about falling asleep at the wheel and killing myself or someone else.
And my wife says I am not grouchy like I was before.
Who? Me?

Now I am not patting myself on the back. I still have work to do especially with weight but at least I am trying and that is what is important because a person sure won't get anywhere NOT trying.

So why do so many not try to do better at their health and other issues when they know for sure if they don't they will certainly suffer for it.
I know I do not have any idea.

your pal said...

Greetings. First of all, I hope that your interest in the subject is not because of a personal involvement - and that you and yours are well. Secondly, I agree with your central idea that corporations will try to do that which makes them the most money. They are not do-gooders, they're just greedy by design.

But next comes: what to do? Not what to do about changing society or government. After all, the USSR wasn't known for altruistic med research. But instead, what do we do to prevent cancer? You might be aware of the recent large study which showed no benefit from eating fruits and vegetables.


(The same lack of benefit was true in the setting of heart disease.)

For more complexity, how about this: calcium = more Myocardial Infarction in women over 50,


which is just about the same population group as in the vit D study that you cite. And isn't there a study showing more MI in blacks taking vit D? Also more hip fractures in elderly.

Or a critique of using Intention To Treat data analysis in studies, as was used in your vit D study.


by Dr M Eades of Protein Power.

If you want to get really wacky, look at the low carb experts/advocates like the same Dr M Eades, who will show you how to make your own lard and say it's good for your heart (fluffy versus dense LDL). Or is not wacky but really true?

How about the cancer cells which express the CD50 surface protein, which tells the immune system "do not attack me"?

How about the Paleo-living Kitavan tribe which smoked "like chimneys" but apparently never got cancer from the cigarettes?

Btw, I myself do get sun deliberately and take vit D, and exercise, and usually eat Paleo or Mediterranean. Still, it's all a gamble.

your pal said...

Speak of the devil, this article is brand new so I popped in briefly to post it here:

Vitamin-D deficiency linked to fatal stroke in whites but not blacks
November 15, 2010


(Also, my above post should say CD59, not CD50.)

your pal said...

Anyway, not much discussion here so let me leave off with two things:

1) alternative possibilities for a person who does have cancer center around curcumin and beta-glycans. They might possibly have some value as adjunct to standard therapy (which besides chemo and radiation include immunotherapy aka monoclonal antibodies as well as vaccine as treatment).

2) another area centers on reducing harmful side effects of treatment while not reducing the intended cell-killing power

and a third:

3) Self interest is not limited to Pharma. E.g. a very much admired boob named Gary Taubes has gotten rich and famous from his "Good Calories, Bad Calories" book which says that how much you eat doesn't matter, it's what you eat that matters. He and his kind (like Dr Eades) mock the simple calories-in calories-out approach to weight loss. So some unknown college professor recently eats mainly junk food, but at reduced quantities, and not only loses weight but also greatly improves his lipid profile. Now watch the lo-carbers scramble to talk down that self-experiment, since it contradicts much of what they've been preaching about weight loss.

Here's the background: