Sunday, April 20, 2008

America’s Misguided Cancer Crusade

It seems like each week the evening news is reporting a new link between some common product and cancer. For example, the pesticides on that apple you just ate, the cosmetics your mom uses or the cell phone you place next to your head every hour. That’s not to mention power lines, asbestos and other unnatural environmental dangers. Sure, these things can cause cancer, but a recent column at Slate explains America’s focus on this “worry candy” is distracting us from more notorious mass-murderers: natural carcinogens.

From Slate: “Somewhat insidiously, we're starting to believe that cancer mostly is prevented by informing individuals to change their consumption habits—not by proactive, broad-based public-health measures like widespread vaccination or agricultural reform.”

(By the way, Pound360
is as big a sucker for the worry candy as everybody else.)

Some of the most brutal killers are diseases that leave us vulnerable to cancer like human pilloma virus (HPV, which opens the door to cervical cancer), hepatitis B (can lead to liver cancer) and Helicobacter pylori (a major cause of stomach cancers). To prevent deaths, we should be vaccinating ourselves (in the case of HPV and hepatitis B) or working on developing a vaccine (for Helicobacter pylori).

Aflotoxin exposure is also a killer. This stuff comes from the mold that grows on peanuts, grains and milk when they’re stored for distribution. According to Slate, five billion people are at risk for aflotoxin exposure, but “regular food testing, could save thousands upon thousands of lives.”

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.