Cancer... Considering Prevention
Lynnda and I have long been active bird watchers, albeit just around our homes. We haven't been binocular toting 'birders' out in the wild looking for the long lost Oicle... naaaa, that's not really a bird, but I can't remember any long lost bird names... In South Florida, where it is essentially tropical or a growing zone of 10 for those of you used to measuring weather by what type of plants will grow, we can be used to seeing Great Egrets. But here, instead of seeing a sparrow, or robin out the window, we can literally see Great Egrets hunting, out our window.
The photo above, I took after noticing out the kitchen window, this big guy standing on one of our hedges, hunting Geckos. I watched as he harpooned one that ultimately wriggled free when I took these pictures above and below. The bird stayed until he finally realized that he had frightened off all the Geckos that live in that particular hedge...
I have on several occasions posted on cancer prevention and why we don't take precautions to reduce our personal potential for getting one of the 215 types of the disease. In the blog that I posted earlier today, that will be found after this one, I spent time trying to give readers a sense that this disease in omnipresent and if we don't at least 'try' to avoid it, we will end up dead, or at a minimum badly scarred... like me!
It is 'for sure' that we can't avoid all cancers. Many of us are born with a predisposition to cancer through our genetic make-up. But even people with a genetic code for a cancer can reduce his/her chances of contracting the disease. It is a matter of not only being aware of methods of avoiding it... but of participating in activities designed to reduce the risky activities that can contribute to cancer.
Among these factors are smoking cigarettes; long term, excessive imbibing of alcohol; obesity; exposure to known carcinogens; and not getting asymptomatic diagnostic testing done when there is a known predisposition to certain cancers. These are all well documented and well communicated... but clearly not well understood and/or reacted to by the general public.
But today, there are nearly 2 billion people using the internet and things are capable of changing, if we re-communicate, using the internet to accomplish what we have not done in the past. And it is time that not only the highly educated population get the message, so we have to do it using layman's terms.
It is amazing to me that we know how to avoid some cancers, but we don't... if fact, sometimes we legislate activities that can contribute directly to people getting cancer. For example... when we fill our cars with fuel, some states, like California, require the fuel delivery system to be a closed system... the fuel is delivered through a nozzle that lets little or no fumes escape into the atmosphere. California recognizes that automobile fuel is a carcinogen, which causes increases in healthcare costs... and requires 100% of the fuel nozzles to comply with a law that reduces the potential hazard. Why then do not the rest of the states and provinces do the same?
In fact, several states, and certainly Nova Scotia legislate that there is not a need for a closed system and the person fueling the car "must have their hand on the nozzle while fueling takes place"... there is no clip on the nozzle to keep it open while fueling. This causes the person to be in close proximity to a carcinogen for protracted periods! WHY? Can the government not see that the cost of cancer in Nova Scotia is 'killing the province's budget' as well as it's population? Perhaps it will some day do the right thing, and put this simple legislation in place, and give the gasoline dealers several years to also comply with a requirement to have a closed system on the fumes.
Let's look at smoking as another example of how cancer can be eradicated through disciplined legislation. Smoking causes cancer! Smoking causes heart and cerebral diseases! Smoking is a plague on the planet that can be eradicated. Certainly if cigarettes were to be introduced today as a new dietary supplement, no government would approve it. So why don't we treat it like what it is... a killer, and legislate against it.
We could put the legislation into place that says... if you smoke, you will not be treated for cancer or other disease caused by smoking! Further, legislation could be put in that a person wanting to quit, but can't afford the drugs can get the drugs on the dole... but if caught smoking, they will lose their right to health care. This would render smoking to being a bad habit, not an addiction, and therefore reduce the rate of death by cigarette dramatically... allowing the healthcare system to stay viable financially.
The graph below shows how forty-three years ago, 52% of men smoked. That has reduced to around 30%. Why should we accept the remaining 30% as a drag on our financial viability, particularly in Canada where all healthcare costs are born by the taxes we pay... in the USA it is an issue, since many of the sufferers are over age 65 and therefore on Medicare... or are poor and on Medicaid.
My position on this issue would be humorous if the data were not so pervasive and sad. To think that someone who favors Barack Obama and liberal human policies could be arguing healthcare based on the financial security of our countries is ridiculous. Except that, if we can't keep our Medicare systems financially stable, people of all ilks will die from all causes, at a much higher rate!
Perhaps if I switch to a subject closer to the North American public's awareness... OIL. A few months ago, speculators drove the price of foreign oil (and domestic) to over $147.50 per barrel. We have to do something to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I agree... but I will also argue that it is even as, or more important to reduce our dependence on domestic tobacco! Think about it... health care in America costs $1.4 trillion a year... quit smoking and we could cut the costs by as much as $300 billion soon, and over ten years by several trillion dollars! That's a hell of a lot easier than Drill, Drill, Drill!
The American Cancer Society, from whom I garnered these slides on a web site where you too can visit... here is the link which is from their presentation of 2007 data:
has for years promoted data that proved that a person could reduce their chances of getting certain cancers by simply eating certain foods. It is clear to me that this is an easy thing, at least for those who can afford it. But I can 't believe the number of people with whom I come into contact that are 'meat and potato' people... or worse! The graphic below shows how we have not adhered to the recommendations of the ACS... BTW, the Canadian Cancer Society have posted similar recommendations to all of this...
In this day and age, if we can't get more than 24.4% of our population to eat five servings of vegetables a day in order to reduce the chances of cancer, we are pathetic. Think of the impact on our farmers if suddenly 258,750,000 people started eating five vegetables a day... up from a measly 86,250,000. We would have less cancer and less obesity! Why can't we get to this, or at least to 150,000,000? Because we don't really want to...
So let's look at that obesity issue that the cancer societies also say in-and-of-itself is a cause of cancer... from 1962 we have gone from 13% of the adult population being obese to a 'whopping' 33%. Not only is this causing cancer, but we are having to live with huge increases in diabetes, weight related injuries, breathing problems, and chronic joint damage requiring prosthesis in knees and hips. And all because we are 'accepting' one another getting over-weight... horribly over-weight. Collectively it is a tragedy for the countries...individually it is a tragedy for the individuals. So there, I have done what I have been told is not PC... I didn't vote that way either!
OK, so we can't do anything about our own weight... and we accept living with it... what about our responsibility to our children... I REPEAT... OBESITY CONTRIBUTES TO CANCER... add it up, we have gone from 14% overweight to 50% of our kids under 19 being above the 95 percentile for BMI (body mass index)
I lifted the following from the website from the Centers for Disease Control here in the USA
The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as "overweight" and "obesity,"* the risks for the following conditions also increases:1
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Liver and Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
*Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.
Their website is http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.htm
See, I wasn't kidding, with my short, off the top of my head listing a few paragraphs ago, when you wanted perhaps to argue my points.
Now, let's look at the numbers for those young people who we can give a healthy start to, even if we can't control our own situation. 50% of the kids are overweight... 14% of those under 5 years of age! That should be an example of parental abuse! Those kids will have to live with heart disease in their twenties! Diabetes in their teens! Do you accept responsibility for such things? If you do, what will we do about the situation?
Cancer may be hard to beat, but I don't think we as a population has really started fighting it. I think we are leaving it to the doctors to treat it; to the researchers to find the magic bullets to stop it or prevent it... but we need to look at the data below (in the posting below, there is a lot of data on prevalence) for the truth... we have to look at what we are doing.