Despite the various tropes from internet scam artists, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports falling cancer death rates in the USA. Maybe we haven’t won the “war on cancer,” but it is far from bleak.
As you know, cancer myths run rampant on social media. One of them is that cancer is a massive epidemic these days, killing everyone. And the second myth is that “Big Pharma is hiding a secret cancer cure. So, according to the internet scam artists pushing fake cancer “cures,” not only are we dying more of cancer but the evil Big Pharma scientists are hiding a miracle cure from us.
If you use Google as your source for cancer facts, you’d think that we have a raging epidemic of the disease, killing more people today than just a few years ago. But the facts say something else – cancer death rates declined from 1975 to 2012 in the USA. We are actually winning the war on cancer in the USA.
Researchers have found that cancer death rates, for both men and women, across all major racial and ethnic populations, decreased each year from 2003 to 2012. Furthermore, incidence rates for new cancer cases decreased among men, while remaining stable among women during that same period.
There are so many tropes and myths about cancer, but the two most frustrating is that cancer rates are increasing, and that Big Pharma and oncologists make more money by not providing real treatments for cancer – there’s more profit in giving out evil chemotherapy rather than a good blueberry kale shake. Unfortunately for the cancer-woo pushers, but good for science, the facts are we might actually be winning the war on cancer – sure we are a long way from never seeing cancer again in our lifetimes, but we’re doing better than we were 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
Except for liver cancer bucking the trend. We’ll look into that too.
I’m certain that the reason for the lower cancer incidence and mortality rates are complicated. It’s possible that people are starting to embrace the handful of science-based preventions to cancer – like reducing smoking. It’s also better medications from Big Pharma. And better science-based treatment options for cancer. Cancer treatment has evolved massively in just 3-4 decades. I’m sure if you spoke to an oncologist today, and queried him about techniques from the 1970s, he or she would just cringe.
Let’s look at the report that gave us this data. And maybe we can put to rest some of the memes about cancer ravishing modern humans.
Her thesis is that these anti-evolution bills in various state legislatures are a danger to her health, and by inference, the health of all Americans.
Essentially, she states that in the 1960’s, breast cancer was basically a death sentence, whereas today, the 5 year survivability for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is over 80%. Partially, the rate has risen because of better and earlier diagnosis, but mainly it is a result of highly effective treatments.
What does evolution have to do with this? Plenty. At even the most basic level, the discovery of DNA, which is essential to understanding any of the 200 different cancers, was driven by the need to uncover the basis of genetics and heritability of genes. Would we have discovered the DNA molecule if we weren’t driven by the desire to understand the foundation of evolution? Probably not.
Furthermore, Ms. Brunetta posits that everything from understanding the differences between cancer and normal genes to family history all depends upon a scientific foundation of evolution. She states that now we have genetic tests (arising from our knowledge of evolution) that can help determine which treatments are best for certain types of breast cancer, allowing some patients to forego chemotherapy.
What if we didn’t understand evolution? We wouldn’t understand that viruses evolve quickly in a population, so we have to adjust vaccination antigens. We wouldn’t understand how bacteria evolve in response to antibiotics. We wouldn’t understand the range of genetic diseases that afflict individuals. I could write for hours on everything in medicine (and just medicine) that depends on an appreciation, and acceptance, of the theory of evolution. I wonder what the creationists would say if we were to refuse them all procedures and techniques that use evolution (well, I know what the answer would be, that a supernatural being guided the research or something similar). Of course, the Hippocratic Oath would prevent physicians from implementing this policy.
I’ve contended that the anti-science (anti-evolution) push on the right wing is bad for the security and economy of the country. Let me add in healthcare to the consequences of this desire to push religious teaching in public schools.
Addendum: Ms Brunetta points out something about Charles Darwin that is always forgotten but is critical. He theorized evolution and natural selection with no knowledge of genetics and DNA (the cause of genetic drift). Amazing leap of intuition on his part.