How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps–OK, not that easy

How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps–OK, not that easy

I have railed against charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to prevent or cure cancer. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks. Or keep them from even growing in your body. But their claims are nearly always absent real compelling scientific evidence.

Like the trope supplements preventing cancer. They don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for awhile).

Or like avoiding GMO containing foods prevents cancer. Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing–bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).

Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are some things that can be done to reduce your risk (see what I did there–no absolutes, just management of risks) of cancer.

How to prevent cancer has been codified byThe World Health Organization (WHO) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that is called the European Code Against Cancer.

Let’s take a look at cancer and the evidence-based ideas about cancer prevention.

What is cancer?

Simply, cancer is a disease in which cells of the body grow in an uncontrolled way, forming a tumor that may spread to different parts of the body. There are around 250 types of cancer, though the exact number is not precisely known, since some cancers may be related to others, or may not be cancers at all. But 250 is a good average.

All cancers are caused by mutations in the DNA of cells in the body. Most of the time, cells deal with these mutations by “fixing” the DNA. Or the mutation is so serious that the cell simply dies (it’s really one cell, and cells die in your body constantly). If the mutated cell lives and divides, the body has immune defenses against most mutations–so it’s gone before you would even know that it’s there.

Technically, with 46-68 trillions of cells in the average human body, even if a cell mutation is extraordinarily rare, the law of large numbers means that you could have literally hundreds of cancer cells living in your body, dying naturally, or being destroyed by the immune system, or not causing any problems at all. There are just so many cells in the body, and the cellular replication mechanism being slightly less than perfect, mutations will happen.

The odds against a cancer growing is even worse than I’m stating. For a cancer to survive from a single cell, to a mass of cells, requires nutrition (forcing the body to feed it with blood vessels). To do that, it needs another mutation of the cell. Then it needs to grow unrestricted by the normal growth control systems of the body–another couple of specific mutations. The cancer also needs to hide from the immune system, more mutations.

I could go on and on, but it could take up to 10 individual and correctly placed mutations for a cell to become a cancer. Again, with trillions of cells, it becomes mathematically possible, but very hard to do. Let’s look at cancer from a strictly mathematical point of view–it’s really really really really really rare. To pile up 4 or more mutations that all are advantageous to the cancer cell is almost unimaginable.

cancer-mutation-graphic

However, outside agents, like infections, tobacco smoke, radiation (more broadly than just radioactive energy, but ultraviolet and other types of radiation), and human physiology can cause (or allow to cause) so many mutations that eventually one leads to an increase in the number of mutated cells, then a growing viable cancer.

 

Cancer is rare

Cancer is generally just a random event, a non-preventable risk, unless an outside force causes an increase in such risk. This is why supplements or diet (other than generally consuming a diet that supplies your nutritional needs) really are nonsense in preventing cancers.

Again, we’re talking about 46-68 trillion cells in your body, some of which aren’t easily accessed, so it’s impossible to consume enough supplements to reach a concentration in all cells in the body that it would have a clinical effect (though it’s doubtful that it would even have an effect then). And the cellular mutations can’t be stopped, nor can they be reversed, by a supplement. Again, it’s essentially a random mutation and more times than not it’s fixed by the cell itself.

The USA’s National Cancer Institute lists about 150 different cancers, but they don’t list some of the very rare cancers. In fact, of those 150, really twelve make up the bulk of cancers in the world. Because people generally live longer these days, the risk (remember, it’s risk, not a yes or no) of cancer is higher–the law of big numbers gets bigger with more years of those trillions of cells have a chance at that random mutation.

Furthermore, as one ages, the cellular DNA repair system doesn’t work as efficiently. So, the risk of cancer slowly increases without any outside forces–to lower that risk is the point of the WHO cancer code.

 

Are more people dying of cancer?

The simple answer is no.

More people die of cancer today, just because the population is larger and older. But the actual incidence, that is the number of people who get cancer in a fixed population, has dropped substantially. In a recent study, the authors looked at mortality rates over a 60 year period of time, and they found that:

[Cancer] mortality has been systematically decreasing among younger individuals for many decades. … the cancer mortality rates for 30 to 59 year olds born between 1945 and 1954 was 29% lower than for people of the same age born three decades earlier. … substantial changes in cancer mortality risk across the life span have been developing over the past half century in the United States. … this analysis suggests that efforts in prevention, early detection, and/or treatment have significantly affected our society’s experience of cancer risk.

In other words, despite claims made by some pseudoscience pushers, the actual cancer mortality rate has dropped substantially. Anecdotally, people think that cancer is more prevalent, because we have contact with more people who are older than the same population 30 years ago. We used to die of other things, infectious diseases, malnutrition, pollution, and maybe wolf or bear attacks, well before a cancer could arise in our bodies. Today, we all live relatively safe lives, so when we hit our 50’s and 60’s, cancer becomes more apparent to everyone.

There’s something else in the lower rate of cancer (and cancer mortality). It’s that the collective will of scientific research in treating or preventing cancer has brought about significant changes. We know that smoking and sunbathing have a direct causal link to some cancers. We know how to aggressively treat cancers to the point of moving some cancers from being death sentences to being treated and managed to great success. .

Let’s make this clear. Despite what is claimed and what is believed, the absolute rate of cancer has dropped. The mortality rate from cancer has dropped substantially. It would be ridiculous for me to think that cancer can be cured (again, there are maybe 200 cancers, all of them with different physiologies, causes, and treatments), but modern medicine is winning the war.

But there are things you can do to reduce your risk of cancer (there’s no way to absolutely prevent it–remember, it’s a random event).

 

healthy-weight

How to prevent cancer – 12 steps

  1. Stop smoking tobacco. This is the number one way to reduce your risk of cancer–smoking causes lung cancer, which is the #1 cancer killer in the US and Europe. In fact, smokers are 15-30X more likely to contract and die of lung cancer than non-smokers. This isn’t something that we’ve known just for a couple of years, but since before the 1950’s.And it’s not just smoking tobacco that increases the risk of cancer–using it in other forms, such as smokeless tobacco can contribute to significantly higher risks of cancer. But the good news is that the sooner one quits using tobacco products the better the long term prognosis. Studies have shown that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90 percent.
  2. Avoid second-hand smoke. Even if you avoid smoking personally, second-hand smoke has nearly the same health risk, depending on the frequency of encountering smoke. In the USA, inhaling cigarette smoke, unless one is a smoker, has become relatively rare. But in Europe, even with official bans on smoking, the risk of encountering second-hand smoke can vary by country and location from 31-90%.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping one’s BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/sq m can lead to an 18% lower risk of cancer. Scientifically, it is possible that other confounding factors, say high fat diet or smoking, may lead to the higher risk being associated with obesity, but the evidence seems to be show a possible causal relationship. Besides, obesity leads to a much higher risk of heart disease, joint problems, and dozens of other medical issues.
  4. Be physically active. Closely related to #3. Being physically active helps maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Eat a healthy diet. No, this does not mean that eating kale and soy milkshake is going to reduce the risk of any cancer. However, as WHO states, eating a diet filled with whole grains, fruits and vegetable, while avoiding high fat and high sugar foods will help with #3. There’s no solid evidence that a particular diet will reduce the risk of cancer, BUT a healthy diet can lead to weight loss and maintaining the appropriate BMI.
  6. Avoiding alcohol. Alcohol, even moderate amounts, leads to a significant increase in risk of certain cancers. In fact, alcohol consumption causes around 3% of cancer deaths in the USA. And not to repeat a point–reduced alcohol consumption can lead to weight loss–to maintain that healthy weight.
  7. Avoid the sun (and UV tanning beds). Ultraviolet (UV) light, mostly sunlight, can damage surface skin cells leading to some very serious cancers. Although one form of UV light, UVB, is necessary for the production  of vitamin D, an essential nutrient, excessive UVB can lead to permanent damage to cells. Getting vitamin D through supplements or foods is probably healthier than sunlight.
  8. Avoid pollutants. Some believe that all “chemicals” are bad, and they aren’t, there really are some that are known carcinogens and should be avoided. The current “chemophobia” of many people is borderline ridiculous, because even known carcinogenic chemicals can only increase the risk of cancer at certain levels, meaning they could be safe in extremely low amounts. It’s all about the dose. It’s impossible to avoid all man-made and natural chemicals (there are more so called natural substances that are carcinogenic than humans could possibly invent), but avoiding polluted water and air, or being careful in a workplace that has a lot of chemicals, will help manage the risk. Remember, the theory (from a scientific perspective) that cancers arise from frequent mutations means that the risk increases as the number of mutations increase. The world isn’t perfect, but it’s not either no chemicals or “we’re all going to die of cancer” type of false dichotomy.
  9. Avoid radiation. This risk is really just radon gas, although individuals in some careers may be exposed to other types of radioactive energy, an invisible radioactive gas that is found in many homes in certain geological areas. It can be easily detected, and easily removed from the air, but it does require testing. Many people would not rent or buy a home without having it thoroughly tested for radon gas–I wouldn’t.
  10. Breastfeed your baby. Women who breastfeed their babies for extended periods of time reduce their risk of breast cancer in later life when compared to women who do not breastfeed. In fact, the reduction in risk of breast cancer is about 4% for every 12 months of breastfeeding (which can be summed up over more than just one baby). This reduction in risk is above and beyond the reduced risk of breast cancers from having a baby.
  11.  Get your vaccinations. It’s ironic that the pseudoscience pushers are solidly antivaccine, yet promote unfounded and unsupported “cancer preventions”. Yet two vaccines, for hepatitis B and HPV, actually prevent more cancer than drinking 100 kale shakes. The hepatitis B vaccine has caused a 96% decrease in hepatitis B infections, which is related to over 50% of the cases of a liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma.
    The HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil, Silgard, or Cervarix, blocks infection of the human papillomavirus which is linked to several types of terrible cancers. Despite the myths, the HPV vaccine is incredibly safe, possibly the safest vaccine of all vaccines (which are all extremely safe) and demonstrably effective in reducing HPV infection and related cancers. These vaccines are some of the most effective methods to prevent cancers. Seriously, one could swallow hundreds or thousands of supplements, and these vaccines will actually do more to prevent cancer than those overpriced supplements will ever do. And yes, the scientific evidence supports that statement.
  12. Get screened for cancer.  There are screenings for a huge number of cancers. One can get a colonoscopy for hard to detect intestinal cancers. There are simple screenings for cervical and prostate cancer. There is imaging for small tumors on internal organs. There are blood tests for others. Yes, getting a colonoscopy, if you’re age-appropriate, is not easy. But it’s not dangerous, and it can detect cancer very early, before it kills. Once again, screening is much more effective than the mythical miracle kale shake.

stop-smoking

The TL;DR version

  • Preventing and treating cancer is not as easy as the “natural food and supplement” people claim. It’s because they oversimplify and understate the biology of cancer. They want people to think “take this pill, don’t worry any more.”
  • Cancer incidence and mortality are dropping. Modern, science-based medicine is the cause.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Lose weight.
  • Get out of the sun.
  • Don’t drink carcinogens.
  • Make sure your house has no radon.
  • Breastfeed your baby (if you’re a woman of course) for as long as possible.
  • Get the hepatitis B and HPV vaccines.
  • Get regular screenings for cancer.

I know. It’s not really that easy, probably not as easy as downing $20 of supplements that will just be passed in the urine. But if any of you really want to reduce your risk of cancer, then you’ll have to do this. Or just drink your kale shakes. That’ll at least make you lose weight.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2014. It has been revised and updated to fix some SEO issues.

 

Key citations:

 
 
The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!
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  • You state that ‘ I am a firm supporter of science-based medicine. I will debunk quackery and pseudoscience whenever possible.’ And yet, in the first 2 steps you fully swallow the biggest examples of pseudoscience. If you’re willing to take the trouble to do a little bit of research, you should google ‘McTear case smoking’. The anti-smoking propagandists failed to prove before a court of law in Scotland that smoking caused the lung cancer in a 2pack day smoker. There’s a very good review of medical and laboratory evidence by some prominent scientists in that case. And here you are talking about ‘passive smoking’, a term coined by some Nazi health fanatics in the thirties. You’re pathetic.

    • Science matters, not a court that doesn’t have authority in scientific matters. Moreover, you’re cherry picking, since the vast bulk of evidence supports the scientific fact that smoking (and 2nd hand smoking) causes cancer. You can deny all you want. But that’s what makes a science denier.

      Bring real peer-reviewed, scientific, published evidence that smoking does not cause lung cancer. And it better be a lot of it.

      Why is it that science deniers seem to think they can troll here? And why do they think they’ve actually got a valid point of view lacking real evidence? Amazing.

      • what you call science are public health reports (on sites like CDC, ACS and the like) which are actually part of a strategy aimed at changing people’s
        behaviour, a mixture of propaganda and scientific evidence. You can’t get away with using politics in a court of law, where only the real FACTS matter. You can’t prove a negative, ie ‘smoking or whatever doesn’t cause cancer’, only positives, ie ‘smoking or radiation or whatever cause cancer’. And that’s what they failed to do in a court of law: show peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that smoking causes cancer. They couldn’t prove it in animals (despite studies going on for more than 50 years now), and couldn’t prove it in humans. All they had was some epidemiological data with very dubious and statistically mistaken interpretation of it. And they’re using the same flawed approach to ‘prove’ that sugar, red meat and so on ’cause’ or are ‘linked’ with cancer. The result of such ‘scientific studies’ are media titles like’ eating protein rich food is as bad as smoking’ and others similar. While they can get away with it in the media or those politically driven websites, they would be laughed out of a court of law. As it happened in McTear case.

        • notation

          And what YOU call science is a court case in another country.

          You lose.

          • I need to be as succinct as you.

            • notation

              Aww, shucks. *blushes and scrapes foot*

          • Science doesn’t have a nationality. You’re the one who loses, ’cause you’re ready to believe anything just because government says so. good luck with that :))

            • notation

              No, nitwit. I rely on science and science-based evidence. You don’t have any. What the court ruled is irrelevant. Courts don’t decide matters of science. I’d love to know exactly what it is you think I am “losing” by not believing one piece of crap you have to say.

              When you get an education, alert the media.

              Oh, and sweetie? When you write ” ’cause” instead of “because,” it makes you look even less intelligent, as if that were possible.

              I don’t smoke because I have the intelligence and the education to know that it’s a major cause of lung cancer. I watched my father-in-law, who smoked for 40 years, die of it one month after he was diagnosed. My mother-in-law is currently in end-stage lung disease exacerbated by smoking for decades.

              Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

            • You don’t have to believe anything I say, I haven’t actually said much…I just pointed out to you that science regarding smoking is not as ‘settled’ as government media would like us to believe. Anyone who is for science, regardless if they smoke or not, should read about the McTear case. Actually several critics (medical scientists) of the ‘smoking causes cancer’ mantra are non smokers. Why you’re losing is because you’ll be living in a state of increased fear, believing all kinds of nonsense, like passive smoking will give you cancer or red meat or whatever. The pattern of pseudoscience used for smoking for the last 60 years is being used for all sorts of things now. You have no way of knowing what caused your relatives’ cancers. Smoking is just a convenient scapegoat, a way of blaming the victim instead of searching for a cure. Dana Reeve died at 44 of lung cancer, lifelong nonsmoker. Helmut Schmidt (ex German chancellor) has been chain-smoking for 75 years and he’s still alive at 95, look him up on youtube. Things are not as straightforward as you make them out to be. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. :))

            • notation

              Let me ask you one simple question: Can you show significant science-based evidence that smoking is safe? That it ISN’T a major cause of lung cancer? I never claimed it was the ONLY cause, you clown, so your idiotic spiel about Helmut Schmidt and Dana Reeve was about as relevant as piss-water. I repeat, court cases are NOT science-based evidence of anything. All a court decision shows is that the burden of LEGAL proof has or has not been met based on that country’s laws. You seem to be quite ignorant of that fact.

              Look at THIS court case, for example: http://www.businessinsider.com/italian-seismologists-six-years-prison-2012-10

              Do you really think that the court’s decision proves that seismology can accurately and reliably predict large quakes? Does the decision prove ANYTHING? Yes, it shows that you are basing your belief that smoking isn’t a significant cause of cancer on the decision of judges who are NOT scientists but are experts on matters of legality.

              Which is completely and utterly idiotic.

              Now go fuck off.

            • I’m all for a civilized debate. When you 2 gentlemen (I suppose) will leave aside your emotions and stop resorting to name calling, let me know. I will save you the trouble of going through 600 pages of the judge’s decision motivation and quote you the studies reviews and the most important parts relevant to the present discussion. You seem to miss the point that not what the judge (so the fact that the UK has lame courts or not doesn’t matter) has decided that is most important to me. It’s the fact that both sides of the argument had the opportunity for 10 years to gather evidence to support their side, and this evidence is there on display for everyone to look at it and make up their minds. It just happens that after studying the evidence, my view matched the judge’s in this case.

            • notation

              I’m female. I have no interest in “debating” anything with you, because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            • I don’t smoke because unlike you, who apparently has no science education and has done no scientific research, I have availed myself of the scientific studies, which clearly show a correlation and causative links between smoking and lung cancer.

              Now if you actually have real research to present, and by real research, I mean scientific studies published in real journals with high impact factor, I’ll read it. Courts, especially the lame ass courts of the UK, have no authority whatsoever in reverting a scientific consensus. NONE.

              And you dumbass, some people actually die of lung cancer from other causes.

              Damn you are so stupid.

            • notation

              Do you believe this ass-wipe?

            • notation

              What you don’t seem to grasp is that what the attorneys presented as part of their case is hardly comprehensive evidence of smoking’s role in causing lung cancer. I don’t care what they assembled as evidence in a court case. That they lost the case isn’t proof of a single thing, nor is their evidence.

            • so what you’re saying is that lawyers representing anti smoking zealots in a crucial test case in the UK (meaning, had they won, lots of claims against Big Tobacco would have followed…they already had something like 150+ cases lined up if I remember correctly) didn’t bring all that was available to try to prove that smoking causes lung cancer ? So where is this comprehensive evidence hidden that they couldn’t find for 10 years the case lasted ?

            • notation

              The evidence they found wasn’t enough to win the case. That doesn’t mean it isn’t enough to show that there is a clear link between smoking and lung cancer. That they couldn’t prove the case in a court isn’t relevant to anything. The science is clear. If you are too stupid to figure that out, it’s not my problem.

              Oh, to add to my post: As for your idiotic assumption that because I don’t smoke and do believe science has met the burden of proof that tobacco isn’t safe, I must be “living in fear,” bushwa. I don’t “live in fear” at all. I eat red meat in moderation; I drink in moderation (although seeing stupidity like yours would be enough to make me overdo it), and I don’t “believe everything” the government says.

              It isn’t that I trust the government or even science so much, it’s that I trust morons like you so little.

            • yes, there is a clear link, but I’m sure you’re not too stupid to figure out (see, I can insult just like you 😀 ) that a clear link doesn’t mean causation. If A is linked with B, it doesn’t necessarily mean that A causes B, or B causes A. Epidemiology 101.

              Science is mostly done in labs, and you’re right, is clear. No animals (mice, hamster, dogs, rabbits) have contracted lung cancer from smoking.

            • notation

              Good God.

              Just stop now. You’re beyond hopeless. If you think smoking is harmless and healthy, you just go right ahead and light up. But don’t even pretend that it’s “pseudoscience” to state that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer.

              You’re daft.

            • smoking is a major CAUSE of lung cancer is pseudoscience. I never said smoking is harmless and healthy.
              You’re adorable. :))

            • notation

              Is that your picture? You look just as stupid as you are.

              What an arrogant asshole.

              Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer. It’s not pseudoscience just because you don’t understand the scientific evidence. I doubt you understand shoelaces. Please stay in Romania. We don’t need any more arrogant dumb shits here. We already have a bunch of anti-vaccine nuts and conspiracy theorists.

            • you 2 are in a league that I’ve outgrown 20 years or so…a league where you resort to swearing and name calling when out of arguments.

            • notation

              Then go fuck yourself sideways with a skillet on some other blog where your stupidity won’t be such a handicap.

              Don’t piss and whine about swearing when you came on here calling someone “pathetic” because you’re a stupid ass who doesn’t believe there’s sufficient evidence that smoking is a cause of lung cancer.

              There is.

            • Pathetic is a mild word for someone who claims is a skeptic and hunter of pseudoscience but believes that second hand smoke causes cancer. I’m ok with someone thinking that active smoking causes lung cancer, it takes some time and research to get rid of 60 years of propaganda and brainwashing but there’s no excuse for a college graduate to fall for the passive smoking scam.

            • notation

              I don’t give a shit what you’re “okay” with. You’re wrong, but you’re so dumb it’s useless to bother with you.

              You’ve presented no evidence worthy of the name. The best you could come up with was a court case. Do you really think anyone takes you seriously when that’s your first and best shot?

              You managed to find ONE court case and that’s all you have. As Skeptical Raptor said, there is a vast body of evidence that shows that both smoking and passive smoking are a cause of lung cancer. Your attempt to pretend that some court case is sufficient to deem all else “pseudoscience” is nothing short of laughable.

            • notation

              I really have to wonder what your motives are in posting here and vehemently denying what research clearly shows about smoking. Considering that you are a trader, it would be interesting to know just what you’re investing in. I think that maybe you’ve got a stake in this issue that has more to do with your bottom line than with science. If that’s the case, you’re dismissed.

            • I stumbled upon this site googling for ‘skeptic’…I continue to answer because I get disqus notifications in my inbox about new messages. I trade mainly currencies, I don’t own any tobacco stocks, even if I had there would be no way I could influence them by posting here, they’re not penny stocks, you know. I got interested in the smoking issue around 10 years ago when the smoking ban hysteria got underway, then it went dormant and got reactivated by the current anti ecig hysteria (even more preposterous than the smoking ban)

            • notation

              You know what? Go bother someone else. I’m not interested in being your pen-pal.

            • notation
            • now you’re talking…i’ll have a look at them. but just to let you know that you have to carefully pick your sources..for example the last one is prepared by the notorious professional anti smoking activist Glantz (that’s how he makes his living) and starts with the preposterous claim that SHS accounts for 35k deaths annually. That’s so insulting to one’s common sense, it would be akin to reading Goebbels’ speeches on the superiority of aryan race.

            • notation

              You seem to dwell on Nazism a lot.

              Deal in facts, dude. You’re a waste of my time. You’re not interesting or intelligent. You’re not even amusing. You’re just dull.

            • notation

              So…not too consistent, are you? First you claimed that all science showing that smoking is a cause of cancer was “pseudoscience.” Then you back-pedaled and amended your scathing criticism to those who think that “passive smoking” causes cancer.

              Gee, what are you going to waffle on next?

            • there are different levels here….I think that science which purports to show that smoking causes lung cancer by sleight of hand that correlation means causation is pseudoscience. I also think that’s common sense that heavy smoking might not be good for an individual. There might be some truth to the fact that heavy smoking is an important contributing factor to lung cancer, even though failing to induce cancer in animals gives me doubts. So I don’t know. I think there is room for debate and for real scientific research here. (which won’t be carried out in the current insane anti smoking climate) Regarding passive smoking, as well as the whole ‘addiction’ thing, I believe these are complete fabrications of the anti smoking propaganda, which should be transparent to anyone with common sense.

            • notation

              Blah, blah, blah. That was a whole big bowl of nothing. Go bore someone else.

            • notation

              Oh, and if the best you can do to attempt to show that the evidence that smoking causes lung cancer is “pseudoscience” is to cite the evidence that was used in a court case in England, I’d say you’re the one who hasn’t a prayer of proving your case.

              I do think it’s hilarious that you’re arguing about science with Skeptical Raptor, when it’s quite clear he’s out of your league. You’re obviously not a scientist and I doubt you have much background in any hard science, based on your posts. He’s already torn you a new one. Good luck continuing to get beaten bloody on here.

        • What I call “science” are case controlled epidemiological studies. You’re a moron. Go smoke your cigs and get lung cancer. Real science will try to save your life in a few years.

          Ignorant twit.

          • you lack arguments and resort to ad-hominem attack…no surprise there.

  • David

    “Avoid the sun”. I see this advice all the time, but with no definition of “excessive” I’m not sure what its value is. And haven’t some new studies suggested that this fear is highly over-rated? I do not know how well conducted this study was but here is an article I read about it:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10811734/Why-avoiding-sunshine-could-kill-you.html

    • You shouldn’t look at cancer as an on/off switch with a binary choice. It’s a matter of risk. Other than smoking, which is almost an on/off switch of cancer risk (quit smoking today, and the risk falls pretty fast).

      So, if you spend 20 minutes in the sun, you produce enough Vitamin D to be healthy, and your risk of skin cancer is tiny (thought not 0). If you’re a pale skinned blonde, and get sunburned every month, that’s quite a bit more risk.

      I’m sure there’s a graph somewhere that shows the amount of time in the sun vs. cancer risk.

      But the one thing about skin cancer that terrifies me is that even though it can be quickly diagnosed, if it’s too late, it kills you.

      • notation

        Truth. A family friend died of melanoma when he was in his late 50s–he wasn’t the type to lie out in the sun getting a tan. He just enjoyed gardening and yard work. Very frightening that by the time he was diagnosed there wasn’t a thing that could be done for him.

  • Ben Fairbanks

    The root cause of cancer: living long enough to get it.

    • Lawrence McNamara

      Most men will develop prostate cancer – though most men will die long before it becomes a problem……fact of life, you live long enough & enough cells in your body will age / mutate to eventually give you Cancer.

      Though I’d rather live to be 100 & deal with whatever comes my way, than to die at 50 of some god-awful preventable infectious disease.

    • As a cancer survivor, who contracted cancer at 28, I don’t think living 28 years was “living long enough.” It was random chance, and thankfully, advanced medicine clobbered the thing, and I live to today to be an asshole skeptic. At least I try to be an evidence-based asshole skeptic.

      • notation

        I didn’t know this. I’m so very glad for you that the outcome was, to put it mildly, positive.

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  • Sandy Perlmutter

    You’re no fun! Just good advice based on science. Nobody likes a party pooper. We all like you, however.