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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Disease Vectors: The President's Cancer Panel (not his bloodwork, but an advisory body) says that cancer is caused by disease vectors among us. Not just any disease vectors, but disease vectors with marketing savvy:

    But the panel finds that cancer prevention efforts "are compromised by federal, state, and local policies that have decreased the availability and affordability of healthy foods, limited physical education in schools," and created an "environment that discourages physical activity."

    Perhaps even more importantly, the panel says, are "ineffective policies" that fail to regulate the marketing practices of "disease vectors" — the tobacco, food, and beverage industries.

    Put aside the gross misuse of the term vector and consider the thrust of the argument - that preventing cancer is a matter of lifestyle choices. If only!

    Tobacco use is a lifestyle choice that increases the risk of cancer, to be sure. But it's pretty hard to make an argument these days that government encourages the use of tobacco. Between the taxes and the bans, government has come down hard on the industry. And smokers themselves have become social pariahs.

    What about other cancers? Cervical cancer has a lifestyle component, but somehow I doubt the Cancer Panel meant to imply that schools (or the government) should teach sexual continence. Skin cancer has a lifestyle component, but there's no mention in the statement about limiting access to tanning beds.

    Other cancers - colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, etc., etc., etc. - have little to no lifestyle component to them. It's true that there are no shortage of media reports that bad diets cause cancer and good diets prevent cancer, but the truth is unless you are eating radioactive food, the link between diet and cancer is tenuous at best. As they say in medicine, the link needs more research. Ditto with cancer and exercise.

    One would hope that the people who are expert enough to sit on a Presidential Cancer Panel would have more sense than this panel has demonstrated. But then, exercising sense rarely gets the attention that hyperbole gets, does it?

    posted by Sydney on 8/16/2007 09:30:00 PM 1 comments


    exercising sense

    Doctors, etc, decry many patients' inability/unwillingness to "exercise sense", but it is the height of delusion to expect government bureaucracies to do so.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 AM  

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