And what about prevention?
The American Cancer Society reported this week that the number of Americans with a history of cancer will rise by a third over the next decade, hitting some 18 million by 2022.
What is the definition of a cancer survivor? According to a recent article in Medical News Today (see link below), a cancer survivor is ”anyone still alive after being diagnosed with cancer.” So in order to have more cancer survivors, there must be more people diagnosed with cancer in the first place.
And although the article reported that cancer cases are generally on the decline, it certainly can’t be by very much. Consider this statistic from the article:
Nearly half of all Americans over 70 are cancer survivors, while this number drops to only 5% for those under 40.
But what about preventing cancer? It often takes decades of growth before cancer can even be detected. Given the right conditions; cancers, like heart disease, can start very early in life. But unlike heart disease, which is almost totally reversible in most older patients, cancer is a different story. Which is why we should be thinking about everything we can do to prevent cancer—beginning when we are children, or babies.
So how do you prevent cancer? Although we frequently hear senior health officials state that up to 80% of our chronic diseases are preventable, you almost never hear any clear instructions about how one goes about doing that. On the other hand, Dr. T. Colin Campbell says that our toxic western diet is the single biggest cause of cancer. That gives us a pretty good clue about how we might prevent cancer in the first place.
But you won’t hear a simple dietary message from the American Cancer Society or any other part of our healthcare system. As I have stated many times on this blog, every corner of our vast “medical system” favors confusion over clarity when it comes to promoting health and preventing chronic diseases. Visits to all of the big “disease-specific” websites will reveal the same voluminous, but painfully unclear, information that leaves the reader totally confused.
I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s say that I am a college student who wants to avoid ever having cancer in my life. Hopefully, I am young enough that my poor lifestyle habits during my first twenty years hasn’t already doomed me to a future that includes one or more of our chronic diseases.
Since I am most concerned about cancer, I decide to visit the American Cancer Society website to learn how I can prevent cancer. For your convenience, I have documented my thirteen step search for how to prevent cancer:
- I begin my journey at the ACS home page at cancer.org
- Here I observe that most of the emphasis is on getting people involved and raising money. I don’t see anything about preventing cancer.
- I see a row of tabs across the top and click on “Stay Healthy.”
- The first thing I see on that page is “Find Cancer Early.” But that’s not what I want; I want to never have cancer. How do I prevent cancer?
- I scroll on down and find a tab that says, “ACS Guidelines on Nutrition & Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.” I am thinking—now I’m getting somewhere. Wrong.
- That page shows me a link to a pdf file, followed by a list of six links on different topics related to diet and physical activity. Since none seem to be the one I am looking for, I click on the last one, “Common Questions about Diet and Cancer.” Maybe other people are asking the same question, “How can I prevent cancer with food?”
- Here I find a long list of Questions beginning with Alcohol and ending with Vitamin E. I scroll down the list and have trouble finding any clarity—ANYWHERE.
- I pasted the entire list of questions into a Word Doc so I could see how much data there was. There were over 5,000 words—perfectly illustrating the industry specialty of confusion over clarity. (Note that 5,000 words is like reading ten of my daily blogs.)
- I found one FAQ about fat in your diet; here’s what they had to say:
- Will eating less fat lower cancer risk? Some studies have found that people who live in countries with higher amounts of fat in their diet have higher rates of breast, prostate, colon, and other cancers. But more thorough studies have not found that fat intake increases cancer risk, or that lowering fat intake reduces cancer risk. At this time, there is not much proof that the total amount of fat a person eats affects cancer risk.
- Well that wasn’t very helpful, was it? I scroll down further and find a question about fish.
- Here’s what their geniuses had to say about that one. Does eating fish protect against cancer? Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies in animals have found that these fatty acids may stop cancer from forming or slow its growth, but it is not clear if they can affect cancer risk in humans. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease, but some types of fish (such as swordfish, tuna, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel) may contain high levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other pollutants. Some studies have also shown that farm-raised fish may carry more of these harmful substances than fish caught in the wild. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breast-feeding, and young children should not eat these fish, and should limit eating albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week and canned light tuna to no more than 12 ounces a week. People should vary the types of fish they eat to reduce the chance of exposure to toxins.
- At this point, I realize that I have grown weary with the ACS Guidelines for Preventing Cancer and go back to writing this blog.
Back to the report. When it comes to the “cancer business,” the primary emphasis continues to be on early detection and treatment options. Both generate a lot of money for the business. Prevention? Not so much. From the article:
The report goes on to give helpful advice on choosing a facility to treat cancer, also includes information on survival, and the most common health concerns of survivors for 11 selected cancers. Also included are sections on the effects of cancer and its treatment, palliative care, long-term survivorship, concerns of caregivers and families, and the benefits of healthy behaviors. Looking into the problems that survivors face the report gives a breakdown of common side effects of cancer treatments. These include pain, fatigue, and emotional distress. Other conditions that may occur months or even years after cancer treatment has been completed are also discussed.
The Bottom Line. When it comes to true prevention of cancer (not early detection), it’s pretty much a matter of lip service in our entire world of healthcare. And this lip service is not limited to cancer.
Try going to the other disease-specific websites and see what you find about prevention. After digging for it, you’ll find the same worthless dietary advice about consuming a “balanced diet” with lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy—along with a few servings of fruit, vegetables and grains.
Are you looking for clarity? Then you need to invest $50 in the kit shown below. That’s because you’re not likely to find much helpful information from ANY part of our formal healthcare system. And it’s sobering to realize that not a single one of the 30 million people working in that system has a financial incentive for us to become disease-free and vibrantly healthy.
Source article: Cancer Survivors To Rise By A Third Over The Next Decade.
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The ”big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Happy Fathers Day—This group is coming today for a visit with their GranBuddy.
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation