War on Cancer Still Neglecting Prevention and Causes
Posted on May 10, 2016
The so-called War on Cancer has been seriously mismanaged. It has focused almost entirely on diagnosis and treatment, an approach that has not proven very successful. It has almost entirely ignored prevention, especially the role of environmental poisons. Yet there are good reasons to suspect that cleaning up the environment might be far more cost effective than continuing to deploy all the (extremely expensive) treatment methods in current use.
The “war”has spent over $100B and counting. Its successes are small. In comparison with progress on communicable disease, it might even be described as infinitesimal. There has been a small decline in age-specific death rates, but not much effect on overall death rates, while methods of treatment remain savagely painful.
In defense of researchers, cancer is an extremely complex problem composed of many related diseases rather than a single disease. Nevertheless, failure to focus on the environment is very much a matter of unconscious selfishness and self-interest on the part of the research establishment. That establishment consists largely of doctors whose livelihood is based on a treatment model. The “war” is entirely controlled by the National Institutes of Health and especially the National Institute of Cancer. Grants are routinely rejected unless the Principal Investigator is an MD. There is no good reason why MDs should lead epidemiological and environmental and public health studies, and moreover MDs by training are oriented more towards treatment rather than prevention, and also more towards prevention at the case or individual level rather than at the collective or societal level. To make matters worse, an MD is not a research degree, but a practitioner’s degree. MDs do not write a supervised dissertation, so they have to learn research as a specialization.