WE CAN'T CURE CANCER, BUT WE CAN PREVENT IT: Costly Cancer "Treatment" Booming While Prevention Is Ignored

By Montague, Peter | CCPA Monitor, December/January 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

WE CAN'T CURE CANCER, BUT WE CAN PREVENT IT: Costly Cancer "Treatment" Booming While Prevention Is Ignored

Montague, Peter, CCPA Monitor

Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the No. 1 killer of people younger than 85, and now a detailed report on the causes of cancer tells us why: cancer has been steadily increasing for 50 years as people have been exposed to more and more cancer-causing agents, including chemicals and radiation.

Richard Clapp, Genevieve Howe, and Molly Jacobs Lefevre have just published Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: A Review of Recent Scientific Literature, and it is a real eye-opener.

But, before we dive into this report looking for nuggets, let's set the background.

About half of all cancer cases are fatal, and death by cancer is often prolonged, painful, and very expensive. Those who manage to survive cancer live out their lives molded by the after-effects of harsh treatments popularly known as "slash and burn"-surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or some combination of the three.

As more people are kept alive each year with their breasts or testicles removed, the "cancer establishment" chalks up another "victory"-and no doubt the victims are glad to be alive-but we should acknowledge that there's something very wrong with calling this "victory." Slash and burn seems more like a dreadful defeat.

The truth is that an epic struggle has been going on for 50 years between the "slash and burn=victory" camp, versus those who think the only real victory is prevention of disease. The struggle occurs across a fault line defined by money. To be blunt about it, there's no money in prevention, and once you've got cancer you'll pay anything to try to stay alive. Cancer treatment is therefore a booming business, and cancer prevention is nowhere. That is the basic dynamic of the debate. Cancer surgeons can achieve the status of rock stars among their peers. Those who advocate prevention will most likely find themselves without funding, ridiculed and despised by the chemical industry, the pesticide industry, the asbestos industry, the oil industry, and all their minions-lawyers, bankers, engineers, reporters, professors, and politicians-who make a fat living off those who pump out cancer-causing products and dump out cancer-causing by-products, aka toxic waste.

The debate began 50 years ago when a powerful voice for prevention in the United States spoke out from inside the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 1948. Wilhelm Hueper, a senior NCI scientist, wrote: "Environmental carcinogenesis is the newest and one of the most ominous of the end-products of our industrial environment. Though its full scope and extent are still unknown, because it is so new and because the facts are so extremely difficult to obtain, enough is known to make it obvious that extrinsic [outside-the-body] carcinogens present a very immediate and pressing problem in public and individual health."

In 1964, Hueper and his NCI colleague, W. C. Conway, described patterns in cancer incidence as "an epidemic in slow motion": "Through a continued, unrestrained, needless, avoidable, and reckless increasing contamination of the human environment with chemical and physical carcinogens and with chemicals supporting and potentiating their action, the stage is being set indeed for a future occurrence of an acute, catastrophic epidemic, which, once present, cannot effectively be checked for several decades with the means available, nor can its course appreciably be altered once it has been set in motion," they wrote.

Hueper, of course, was right. This is why 50% of all men and 40% of all women now hear the chilling words, "You've got cancer" at some point in their lives. That's right, one out of every two men now get cancer in the U.S., and more than one out of every three women.

Clapp, Howe and Lefevre tell us that, between 1950 and 2001, the incidence rate for all types of cancer increased by 85%, using age-adjusted data, which means cancer isn't increasing because people are living longer. People are getting more cancer because they're exposed to more cancer-causing agents.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

WE CAN'T CURE CANCER, BUT WE CAN PREVENT IT: Costly Cancer "Treatment" Booming While Prevention Is Ignored


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?