10 reasons not to be afraid of cancer
EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE IS MOVING FORWARD BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS, but access to sites with the correct information is almost everyone — but the word "cancer" remains intimidating. Many tumors have long ceased to be a death sentence, especially in the case of early diagnosis. Nevertheless, cancer is surrounded by a huge number of myths, conjectures and horror stories — and we tried to refute a dozen of them.
We have a cancer epidemic right now
Indeed, in developed countries, cancer is one of the first causes of death among the population, catching only cardiovascular or even ahead of them. At the same time, cancer is still quite a rare disease, different types of which are diagnosed only in a few tens of 100 thousand people a year. The catch is that the tumor develops due to a series of genetic mutations in a single cell-these mutations lead to its non-stop division bypassing the body’s stop signals.
Cells become resistant to apoptosis (the so — called “programmed” death), begin to attract new blood vessels to the tumor, and even penetrate into other organs and tissues-metastasize. Often it takes years and decades. According to statistics, 77 % of people with malignant tumors they occur after 55 years. It is not surprising that in countries where the vast majority of people are experiencing this threshold, Oncology is widespread.
Earlier people with cancer is not sick
The term “cancer” appeared in the fifth century BC thanks to Hippocrates. Traces of malignant tumors at different times were found in mummies Of ancient Egypt, Peru and Chile, in the bones of the ancient Romans, in medieval cemeteries of England and Portugal. King of Naples Ferdinand I died five hundred years ago from advanced colon cancer, and a noble Scythian warrior, whose rich tomb was found in 2001 in the territory of the modern Republic of Tuva, had prostate cancer.
In other words, cancer with people was long ago, and even our distant ancestors did not avoid it. The only known remains of Kannskogo man (Homo kanamensis) and another not yet named protocolului found signs of a malignant tumor of bone — osteosarcoma. According to conservative estimates, about 200 cases of fossil cancer have been reported. It is necessary to make an amendment to the fact that many of the remains are preserved only partially, and the targeted search for cancer in them do not lead even now.
People used to get cancer less often
It is difficult to confirm or refute this point impartially. In addition to the fact that advances in medicine have allowed people to live to cancer, the massive spread of Smoking and obesity also did not improve the situation. But we can not say that before the cancer was extremely rare. English paleontologist Tony Waldron studied the death register for 1901-1905 and found that the probability of detecting signs of cancer in the bone remains of men is 0-2 %, and in women — 4-7 %. At the same time, only primary bone tumors can be found in the bones — less than 0.2% of all cancers, as well as metastases of some other types of cancer. Tumors of soft tissues in the remains, from which only the skeleton is preserved, as a rule, can no longer be detected.
Later, scientists from Munich received the same results: with the help of special equipment, they found five cases of cancer among 905 skeletons in the Egyptian necropolis and thirteen cases in 2547 remains in a medieval cemetery in Germany. An interesting conclusion arises: although life in ancient Egypt and medieval Europe was different, people were ill with cancer equally.
Statistically speaking, this is true: according to a recent report by the international Agency for research on cancer, their prevalence in children has increased by 13% over the past twenty years. But it’s not as simple as it seems — and, fortunately, cancer in children remains extremely rare disease (about 14 cases per 100 thousand children per year).
Scientists tend to believe that such an increase in prevalence — primarily the effect of more accurate diagnosis and high awareness. Perhaps in the future the numbers will increase further: today’s data cover 100% of children in North America and Europe and only 5% of Africa and Asia. In poorer countries, cancer in children is likely simply not diagnosed.
Wild animals do not get cancer
Cancer affects all animals: wild and domestic, and especially laboratory. Most often, tumors are diagnosed in Pets — there are many of them and they undergo veterinary control. In addition, they are often the victims of closely related crosses that increase the likelihood of transmission of defective genes to descendants. Wild animals also have cancer. The population of Tasmanian devils-marsupial mammals from Australia-is on the verge of extinction because their cancer has evolved and is able to spread through bites.
The myth that there are animals that do not suffer from cancer, massively spread twice. The first time-when scientists noticed that the cartilage tissue does not contain blood vessels, and decided that it contains some substances that inhibit their growth. The most important feature of malignant tumors-the formation of new blood vessels, so scientists decided to study the properties of cartilage. However, ahead of their charlatans, flooded the market with pills from sharks: shark skeleton consists exclusively of cartilage.
The second time the victim of the myth was the scientific community. Attention was drawn to the naked diggers-small rodents, which differ phenomenal life expectancy, up to thirty years. On this wave of Russian scientists have even received a prestigious award for the revealing of the mechanism of resistance of naked mole rats to cancer, but two years later cancer was found, and these rodents.
Cancer can be infected
An extremely tempting theory that cancer is an infectious disease in the sixties of the last century cost the national cancer Institute of the United States hundreds of millions of dollars spent almost in vain. In fact, it is now known that there are viruses that can provoke the development of some types of cancer: human papilloma virus causes cancer of the cervix, anus, penis and pharynx, hepatitis C virus — liver cancer, and Epstein — Barr virus — Burkitt lymphoma.
People can get cancer only through direct transfer of tumor cells from the donor to the recipient — for example, in the process of organ transplantation. However, two-thirds of even such cases end in the fact that the immune system of the new host kills the tumor.
The main cause of cancer — chemical carcinogens
At the time, bacteriologist Bruce Ames invented a test that allows to study the effects of chemicals on the genetic apparatus using bacteria, that is, to determine the Carcinogenicity of these substances. Talk about chemical carcinogens caused a great public outcry and affected all industries. However, later Ames partially rehabilitated artificial chemical compounds: it was found that natural substances can have the same properties. Of the 28 natural substances that a Cup of coffee contains, 19 are vegetable carcinogens. However, to cause the development of tumors, in huge quantities, and perhaps it is only in laboratory animals.
Chemical carcinogens are also justified by the history of the American Pripyat — the town of Love Canal, built on a toxic waste dump. Over thirty years of retrospective study of former residents did not find an outbreak of cancer. Residents and liquidators of Chernobyl also found nothing, except for more frequent thyroid cancer in children and adolescents: its development was associated with food contamination with radioactive iodine in the first months after the disaster.
In fact, the main carcinogens have long been known — it is ultraviolet radiation, components of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Other important risk factors are obesity and some infections. Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke and other lifestyle elements is much more important than any parabens in cosmetics, Carcinogenicity of which has been demonstrated only in the laboratory.
Pharmaceutical companies are not profitable to invent a cure for cancer
A single cure for cancer can not be found at least because cancer is the common name of a huge group of diseases. Moreover, breast cancer alone is hundreds of different diseases. Cancer is individual, as an individual organism of each individual, as fingerprints. Today’s trend in Oncology-the so-called precision medicine, which allows you to select a personal medication or treatment regimen for each patient on the basis of certain biomarkers.
Billions of dollars are invested in the development of drugs, and it is still profitable for pharmaceutical companies-in terms of both Finance and reputation. For many malignant tumors, there is already an effective treatment — but for the reasons described above, it is not suitable for everyone.
We haven’t made any progress in cancer treatment
Over the past ten to twenty years, total cancer mortality in different age groups has decreased by 1% every year-a trend that is observed worldwide. The exception was lung cancer in women-the result of the fashion of the seventies on the” female ” cigarettes, and liver cancer-the result of the mass spread of hepatitis C virus infection.
Cancer is impossible to win
Of course, it is better to warn, not to win. Cancer prevention includes a number of simple requirements: it is necessary to eliminate Smoking, reduce the consumption of alcohol and red meat, eat enough vegetables and fruits, monitor body weight, be physically active and protect the skin from sunburn.
In the early stages of cancer is curable-true, and it is difficult to identify it, because it does not manifest itself. On the website of the cancer prevention Fund, you can be tested for personal risks and understand when to contact oncologists. Cancer in the later stages often can not be cured, but in many cases, treatment can restrain its progression. Cancer is becoming chronic, and people have been living with it for decades - so in a sense, cancer is the winner.