More on Cancer – I’m an Optimist

I continue to receive questions from people on my posts on cancer.  Given the interest, rather than respond in the comments, I’ve chosen to respond here.

Capturing the spirit of these questions was a reply from a reader, Wish I Had a Party, in the comments to my post on Cancer Trending Down

I would like to know a little bit more about your personal beliefs regarding the chemicals that have been placed in our food supplies for years and how it relates to our health? Do you think that it is possible that we could be living longer based on our bodies reactions to the chemical products we use to mass produce our food as well as our medicines? Do you think there could be any correlation to our mass food production actions (using growth hormones in our primary sources of meat or chemical laden soil products to grow the food supply in faster/larger quantities) causing an influx of our growth hormones (causing us to become larger physical specimens) or possibly an influx in the diversification of our cancers (we appear to have more differing types of cancer now since it was originally discovered)? Could we only be living longer and combatting the effects of Cancer due to the increase in Cancer fighting drugs and the improvement in said drugs over the years allowing us to nullify its effects?

A couple of things to start. 

  1. I believe that a significant part of the prior increase in cancer incidence was due to longer life expectancy (living long enough to get cancer) and better detection. 
  2. Clearly reduced mortality from cancer is a by-product of improved treatment.

With respect to chemicals in our food and in farming, there are many articles that take the form of There may be a correlation to some scary things. We can’t be too careful. The evil corporate farmers don’t care about us. We should stop and go back to the mud.

Now, I am no expert on these matters.  But I refuse to flinch at ghosts.  We are learning animals.  When we discover things we share them, and we adapt accordingly.  When we learned that bacteria cause infections we began washing our hands.  When we learned that bleeding-out sick patients was killing them, we changed.

From my reading, I think the question is still out on the effects of hormones and pesticides in our food production.  Which is to say, there isn’t clear evidence that the risks are substantial.  When, or if, such emerge I have full confidence that we will change.   Meanwhile, big advancements in hydroponics continue, and modern food production feeds 7 billion people while consuming fewer acres than when we were at 6 billion.  Will miracles never cease?

In short, I don’t worry about it, but I am grateful someone else does.

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One Response to More on Cancer – I’m an Optimist

  1. EJ says:

    Thanks Sean for your analysis and research on this. This book here: has been making the rounds in my family with some praising it and others ignoring it. I haven’t read it yet, but have made the point that I’ll continue to wash my apples, but I’m not going to peel them for fear of pesticides on the skins, and I’ll eat organic when I can, but not always at double the price in the grocery store. To your point, if the research establishes that all fruits with edible skins need to be peeled and eaten, then I guess we’ll all adapt. I make the point to certain family members that with the histories of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes in the family, I think we all should be much more cognizant of preventing this in our diet and lifestyle (i.e laying off that second canolli) than worrying about which legumes best prevent which cancer. In the end though, I respect people’s needs to feel like they are doing their best to prevent cancer or at least doing their best to DO SOMETHING, especially in a family where the emotional toll of living with the devastation of a bad diagnosis has become a fact of life. In other words, I may not read the book, but I keep my comments mostly to myself.

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