Recently, a paper was published which described a potential lung cancer vaccine. Interestingly, it’s not a novel vaccine, but it’s the BCG vaccine that’s been around for nearly 100 years.
Unless you are really into vaccines or had a typical education as a physician or nurse, you probably don’t know much about the BCG vaccine, because it’s not a typical part of the CDC immunization schedule for either adults or children.
And today we have another vaccine myth to debunk – since the CDC tobacco smoking science was wrong 50 years ago, how can we trust them about vaccines? Of course, the problem with the myth is multi-faceted, typical of every anti-vaccine trope pushed on the internet.
Let’s start right at the top – is there any evidence whatsoever that the CDC tobacco science was anything but what we know today? Spoiler alert, nope, nothing there.
I have kind of written about this subject recently, but that article focused more on the claim about “doctors endorse smoking” rather than the CDC. This is a more specific article debunking the old CDC tobacco claim – so annoying.
If you hang around discussions about vaccines, you will see the oft-repeated claim that doctors once claimed that “smoking is safe.” The anti-vaccine religion (or terrorists) use this trope as a strawman argument in an attempt to discredit physicians, scientists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who claim that vaccines are safe and effective.
Despite the cancer tropes that seem to afflict Facebook and Twitter these days, which includes the laughable “Big Pharma is hiding a secret cancer cure” myth, recently published evidence shows that cancer mortality rates in the USA are dropping. This is great news if you’re wondering if cancer is an end-of-life diagnosis – science-based medicine is attacking and beating cancer with numerous strategies for each cancer. And yes, instead of hiding cancer cures, Big Pharma is providing a lot of the successful medications in treating the disease.
The report, published in the journal Cancer by researchers at the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, provides us with the mostly good news. Cancer mortality rates, which describes the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year, have dropped significantly in the USA. This drop includes most of the common cancers, such as lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate.
I have railed against pseudoscientificcharlatans 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. Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.
But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for awhile).
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 only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.
Over the past few years, electronic cigarettes (often called a personal vaporizer, e-cigarette, or many other trendy descriptions–I’ll abbreviate them as EC, just to save space) have become a popular alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They originally were developed as a tool to quit cigarette smoking, which is factually linked to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
However, ECs have become much more than a tool to end smoking, but they have evolved into popular subculture phenomenon known as the “vaping community” that, in many respects, seem to mimic the marijuana advocates. The vaping community continues to push a belief that ECs are safer than traditional cigarettes, have little health risk to the vaper (electronic cigarette smoker), and is much more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes or cigars.
There are more than 200 forms of cancer known to science, and very few are directly preventable. Tobacco smoking causes around 85% of lung cancers, possibly the best understood cancer, killing hundreds of thousands of people each year. Moreover, smoking causes more than a dozen other cancer that kill thousands of more people. Never smoking, or stopping smoking if you do, is probably the number 1 guaranteed method of preventing cancer.
Similarly, the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly 40,000 cancer cases annually in the USA. And, like quitting smoking, we have the Gardasil cancer prevention vaccine which blocks HPV infections that lead to one of those 40,000 cancer cases.
This article will review the science behind Gardasil along with its impressive safety profile. For those of you who don’t need convincing, maybe this article will serve as a good reference when you’re in one of those exhausting arguments with the anti-Gardasil crowd.
As I have written before, there is a lot of controversy about medical uses for marijuana, although it appears to be much more of a political debate than a scientific one. There just isn’t much evidence that supports a hypothesis that marijuana has any significant therapeutic effect on diseases like cancer, neurological disorders, or other diseases.
Scientists have long suspected that smoking marijuana could be linked to lung cancer, but there has only been weak evidence supporting a causality. Recently, a 40 year review of over 49,000 men strongly suggests that smoking cannabis does indeed increase the risk of lung cancer. The study examined 49,321 men between the ages of 18 and 20 who were being enlisted in the Swedish military between 1969 and 1970, examining their health and lifestyle issues, along with their use of marijuana. The researchers reviewed other potential risk factors such as respiratory disease, other types of smoking, and socioeconomic status. Continue reading “Smoking cannabis doesn’t cure cancer but it may cause it”