Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winning The War On Cancer. For Real, This Time.

I watched intently last night as Elizabeth Edwards, Lance Armstrong (cancer survivor) and entrepreneur Steve Case appeared before Congress to give testimony about renewing the war on cancer. All three of them urged our government to make a new plan to deal with cancer on a more comprehensive basis. Over 560,000 people died from cancer last year alone.

Evidently, the war on Cancer has been going on since 1971 when president Nixon first declared it. That's 37 years! Let's take a look at a few other wars that we have been in. Here are the total American casualties from our last six wars.

Iraq war – 4000+ and counting

Vietnam war - It lasted 9 years from 1964 to 1975.

  • 90,209 Americans were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served.

  • During the Vietnam War the national debt increased by $146 billion (1967-1973). Adjusted for inflation, the debt in 1992 dollars was $500 billion. If you adjusted for inflation for 2008, the number would be much higher.

The Korean war lasted for three years between 1950 and 1953

  • 36,940 died in theater during the war

  • 54,246 deaths from all causes

World War II lasted 6 years from 1939 to 1945

  • From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded

  • Total U.S. Casualties came to 405,399

World war 1 = 116,516
Civil War= 498,332

Total wars = 1.2 million

If at least 500,000 people have died from cancer every year (for the last three years), that would equal 1.5 million people. More people than have died in our last six wars combined!

Our government has spent over 1.3 trillion dollars on the war on cancer in the last 37 years and over 800 million on the war in Iraq in the last few years. It is interesting to hear the politicians rant and rave about the failed policies in Iraq. What about the failed policies in the war on cancer?

If you listen to the propaganda from the cancer establishment, you would think that we are winning the war on cancer. They report that survival rates are increasing and cancer is more treatable than ever before. According to Dr. Ralph Moss, nothing could be further from the truth. He writes two articles that expose the shell game that we have been fed.

Three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics.


Here is an excerpt from one of these articles:

The US News article further claims that "nearly 10 million Americans are living with cancer. Most were diagnosed five or more years ago; many who would have died just 15 or 20 years ago are alive today.." This is highly misleading. As the Fortune article showed, it is METASTATIC cancer that kills the great majority of those who die, and for the most common forms of the disease (such as cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate) metastasis is still the relentless killer it always was. There has been virtually NO change in the survival from metastatic cancer over the last 50 years. The apparent improvement in the survival figures has mainly been due to the earlier detection of illness: people appear to be living longer, whereas in fact what has often happened is that they have received a diagnosis earlier, and have been officially on record for longer before metastasis overtakes them. In other words, many of them are the beneficiaries of a statistical artifact.

Sophisticated screening and early detection tests have also succeeded in finding many patients who have conditions that are not life-threatening (for example, some very early precancerous or encapsulated lesions of the breast or prostate). These people are often labeled as cancer patients, thereby weighting the statistics to make it appear that people with cancer are living longer overall. But many if not most of these people would not have died of cancer even if their tumors had not been detected. Of course, none of these statistical irregularities is a secret to the biostatisticians who are the gatekeepers of data analysis in the cancer field. But these are not the sort of facts that it is considered wise to share with the general public, upon whose generosity vast enterprises such as the American Cancer Society depend.

According to an article in Fortune magazine, author Clifton Leaf explains “Why We Are Losing The War On Cancer.”

Leaf gives some facts about cancer that are well known to insiders but will come as a shock to many readers:

--More Americans will die of cancer in the next 14 months than have died from every war that the US has fought combined.

--Cancer is about to replace heart disease as the number one US killer. It is already the biggest killer in many age groups.

--Even adjusting for age, the percentage of Americans dying from cancer is about the same as it was in 1971 (when Nixon declared the war on cancer) or even back in 1950! Meanwhile, age-adjusted deaths from heart disease have been slashed by 59 percent and from stroke by 69 percent during that same half-century.

--The much-vaunted improvement in survival from cancer is largely a myth. "Survival gains for the more common forms of cancer are measured in additional months of life," says Leaf, "not years."

--Most of the improvement in longevity of cancer patients can be attributed to life style changes (the promotion of which has not been a conspicuous priority for the National Cancer Institute) and especially to early detection.

--The few dramatic breakthroughs (such as in Hodgkin's disease) mainly occurred in the early days of the war on cancer. There has been little substantial progress in recent decades despite nearly ubiquitous claims to the contrary.

--According to one biostatistician at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, long-term survival from common cancers such as prostate, breast, colorectal and lung "has barely budged since the 1970s."

--According to Andy Grove, the chairman of the Intel corporation and a major "player" in funding research, "It's like a Greek tragedy. Everybody plays his individual part to perfection, everybody does what's right by his own life, and the total just doesn't work."

Today, Leaf concludes, the cancer effort is "utterly fragmented - so much so that it's nearly impossible to track down where the money to pay for all this research is coming from." And what money! Leaf estimates that US $14.4 billion is spent each year on cancer research. "When you add it all up, Americans have spent close to $200 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, since 1971." It is certainly justifiable to ask for an accounting of that one-fifth of a trillion dollars.

The Cancer industry and the Pharmaceutical industry have gotten rich off of their cancer treatments and drugs. If a real cure for cancer ever came along, I wonder if they would embrace it or try to bury it? If cancer dropped by 20%, I wonder how much of a hole that would put in their wallet?

It seems to me that there are two things that would go a long way towards finding a cure or at least lowering the incidence of cancer to a significant degree.

  1. Support and fund promising new treatments. As I wrote in another post, there are several new treatments out there that might save hundreds of thousands of lives each year. By funding the research, we could get these treatments to the public in a much more timely manner. I mentioned a few of these at Cancer: Hope For A Cure.

  2. Prevention. Teaching people how to eat in order to lower the chances of cancer is very important. Exercise and supplementation with nutrients that have been shown to have a positive effect on cancer should be part of the curriculum of every grade school and high school. Vitamin D3 could even be the answer to lowering cancer by 60% according to some doctors. Click here to read an article about this from Science Daily.

The last time we as a nation declared war on Cancer, it was a political move by a savvy politician to get more votes. If we have any failed policies on war, it was the 37 year failure to barely make a dent in the progress we need to defeat this foe. Unlike, the Iraq war, we cannot afford to walk away from this one. We need to take it serious this time.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Wow. Glad at least someone is fighting for something justified.