Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thoughts about Cancer Research

After reading Gina Kolata's recent New York Times article on the continuing search for a cancer cure, I wanted to throw my hands up in the air in frustration. Apparently Barack Obama has pledged increased funding for cancer research over the next few years in the hope of finding a cure for the disease. He is, of course, just the latest in a line of leaders who optimistically encourage us to think that if we keep on the current track of scientific research, this plague of the modern world will be eradicated.

Noble intentions, certainly. But as Kolata points out, hundreds of billions of dollars have already been poured in this type of research with only the slightest drop in cancer deaths over the past 55 years. And here's the thing: most of the more innovative research never gets funded, because of its riskiness compared to research that will make tiny, incremental advances. A lot of what is being funded is basically drugs and treatments that will keep cancers at bay, maybe give patients a little bit longer to live.

I'm not saying that any of this is bad. It's fantastic that there are doctors and researchers out there trying to improve the prognosis for cancer patients. And how wonderful that some government money is going to health research. But I just think the entire system is approaching this disease from the wrong angle. I know I don't have a medical background, so I'm only saying this from my own perspective. But doesn't it seem like more than a coincidence that the rise in cancer coincides with an increase in processed food consumption, increased industrial activity, and the use of chemicals in our homes? I mean, how obvious can it get?

I think this is a disease that is going to be slow to eradicate, and I say that because I think what is required is a fundamental shift in the way we live. We're just exposed to so many carcinogens in our modern world, and really the obvious solution is to remove as many of these toxins from our environments as possible. Eating non-processed, organic, plant-based foods, using natural cleaning and beauty products, drinking the best water we can get, and keeping our minds positive will go a long way towards stopping this disease in its tracks. There are stories of people who have "cured" their cancers with juice feasts, affirmations, or ever laughter! I wonder how much research money is looking at these sorts of possibilities?

But the problem here is that the research money seems to be looking for more of a quick-fix - a drug or treatment regimen that will "cure" cancer in an individual patient. Yes, I understand this desire. Like most people in this world, I'm no stranger to friends and family who have struggled through - or died from - cancer. It's scary, and I like to think that should I receive such a diagnosis, I can be cured. But I'm not convinced that this sort of research is the best approach. And cancer drugs and treatments can have so many side effects - after all, it's not just the cancerous cells that are affected by pharmaceuticals and radiation.

These are just my thoughts on the subject - I have no medical background and really know very little about the topic. And I certainly wouldn't tell any of my loved ones to ignore a doctor's recommended treatments and use entirely alternative approaches - though in all honesty if I received such a diagnosis myself you can be sure that I would research every single alternative/complementary option before trying anything that conventional medicine has to offer. I would be really curious and grateful to anyone who has any more information on this topic and would like to share to leave a comment - I think this is a really important discussion.


Gena said...

Alas, I couldn't possibly agree more with your frustration. Good intentions, certainly, but as long as we remain trapped in this conventional paradigm, nothing will change. Thanks for a brave post.


Anonymous said...

wonderfull information

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin