Millions of dollars and still no cure for cancer

Millions of dollars and still no cure for cancer

We live in a time where more people than ever before are being diagnosed with cancer. And not only are more people being diagnosed, it is happening at younger and younger ages.

Millions of dollars and many decades of research have gone into finding a cure for cancer and yet we still have no answers, no solutions and no way of preventing this dreadful disease from occurring.

It is a sad fact now that as a parent it is quite possible that you will outlive your child, as cancer is so rife amongst our populace. If this fact were not shocking enough, the world's ‘better’ countries – with greater access to healthcare – experience much higher rates of cancer incidence than the world's ‘worse off’ countries. Why is this?

Cancer researchers would have us believe that the reason for this is due to the result of relaxed ‘natural selection’ – because modern medicine is enabling people to survive cancers – and their genetic backgrounds are passing from one generation to the next.

The researchers also say the rate of some cancers has doubled and even quadrupled in the world over the past 100-150 years, and that human evolution has changed away from ‘survival of the fittest’.

Yet new research shows that at least one third and up to 9 out of 10 cancers are caused directly by lifestyle: tobacco, diet, alcohol and obesity.

Until recently, research suggested that random cell mutations played a significant role in the development of tumours – a finding dubbed the ‘bad luck hypothesis’. But scientists now believe that outside influences have a far greater impact, meaning many cancers may be more preventable than previously thought, as cancer incidence is far too high to be explained away by simple mutations in cell division. Put simply, if random mutations were to blame, there would be far fewer cases of cancer than there actually are.

This finding – that it is not random cell mutations but our lifestyle that is responsible for cancer – will be hard-hitting and even controversial for many as it takes away the notion that cancer is happenstance and that you are just purely unfortunate and therefore in no way responsible if you develop cancer.

Yet if cancers are being caused by lifestyle factors, would this not suggest that people could slash their risk of ever getting cancer if they simply made lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, reducing alcohol intake, exercising or cutting down on cigarettes?

This also means that cancers do not just happen and that there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Contemplate what this science is telling us – that between 70 and 90 per cent of cancers would not occur if we could ‘magic away’ all the external risk factors.

Now that is a powerful statement – if we could eliminate the external risk factors or greatly reduce them, then 70-90 per cent of cancers would not occur. So why is it we are continuing to pump millions of dollars into cancer research that has yet to provide any reasonable answers, let alone deliver a cure when we could do so much more through our own lifestyle choices to diminish the incidence of cancer?

  • Is it because we don’t want to face the fact that it is how we are living, our choices and perhaps, dare I say it, our irresponsibility in how we treat our body that determines our cancer risk?
  • Are we simply avoiding taking a long honest look at what we eat, drink and how we behave and treat ourselves and each other?

Would we rather live as if life were a game of Russian roulette where we gamble our health for the taste of fast food, another beer or puff of a cigarette, in the hope that when we pull the trigger we get the empty chamber and not the loaded bullet?

Or do we feel so powerless and dejected that we simply accept that cancer happens and there is nothing we can do about it, so we just live with it instead of asking every day why are so many people getting cancer, why is it not headline news? Because to do so would mean that we would have to collectively start discussing the issue and seeking answers, rather than waiting for research to provide the solution that it has had decades and countless dollars to come up with.

Are we happier to pacify ourselves with a gold coin donation or the purchase of a daffodil or pink ribbon to support cancer research, than to look for the answer closer to home and within and actually make a choice to address how we live and hence alter the escalating cancer rates?

If we were to put the cancer rates as the front page headline news every day, would we look at the truth and ask what happened to all the millions of dollars invested into cancer research and question why we are still seeing soaring rates of cancer?

If so, would we be open to exploring the way we are living and start joining the dots about our lifestyle choices and our health, or would we continue to blame our genes and hence bury our heads in the sand while we keep our fingers crossed that we aren’t the one with the next cancer diagnosis?

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Filed under

HealthHealth conditionsMedicineCancerHealthy living

  • By Dr Rachel Hall, Dentist

    Dentist, business owner, writer, author and presenter. Family woman, guitarist, photographer, passionate about health, wellbeing and community. Lover of Vietnamese food, fast cars, social media, café culture and people.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.