Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lung Cancer Mysteries

In the Mar. 8th print edition, Detroit Free Press medical writer Patricia Anstett has a news report titled "Death puts baffling disease in spotlight." Of course she is referring to the death of Dana Reeves from lung cancer when she had never smoked.

Ms. Anstett says that lung cancer is "filled with mysteries" and correctly points out that:
"Some lifelong smokers never get lung cancer, though they may die of some related lung or heart problems. Yet others who never smoked or lived with a smoker, develop lung cancer." This is true of course and something I think most people know, but Ms. Anstett says science considers it baffling.

But this could only be considered baffling by those who have accepted the politically correct notion that smoking flat out causes lung cancer. This kind of dogmatism happens when medical science becomes an establishment. It would be far more honest of medical scientists to say that smoking can "contribute" to lung cancer. That I would agree with.

But to declare that smoking has been proven to be the definite cause of lung cancer is for scientists to fail to be honest with the public and with themselves because it refuses to explain why millions of people smoke and dont get lung cancer. There is a reason, perhaps several, why they don't get lung cancer and these reasons need to be discovered. There could be scientific discoveries waiting to happen which won't because the establishment has already decided it knows the cause, smoking.

Ms. Anstett is doing the public a service by pointing out the fact that smoking doesn't always cause lung cancer. This fact needs to get out loud and clear. Not because it's a good idea to resume smoking again but because it is obvious we need to start looking somewhere other than tobacco.

She correctly points to other possible causes:
"Other lung cancer cases are likely due to household, work-place and environmental esposure to carcinogens such as asbestos and air pollution, as well as radon, a redioactive material in the ground that comes from uranium.
Sometimes, there are no good answers at all." True. These could be causes. The key word here is "could" not are. She even suggests another cause when she tells of one of her anecdotes being tested for genetic mutations.

But reading the article I get the impression that the establishment is focusing most of its attention on man made causes and very little, with the exception of radon, on non-man made ones. What about sunlight? Cosmic rays from space? Pollen? Just to name a few.

Also, absent from the report is any mention of age. It is known that diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer are found mostly in the older age brackets. In 1900 the life expectancy of the average American was 48. People weren't living long enough to get these diseases. From an evolutionary viewpoint, our bodies didn't evolve defense mechanisms against them. We didn't need them. Maybe all we need to cure these maladies is more time.

Overall I think the report was well written. It had lots of references to back up most of her points. But, there is something preventing some smokers from getting lung cancer and it would be great if we could find out what that is. I think science needs to look at more natural causes. Quitting smoking isn't turning out to be the cureall many thought it would be. Science needs to look elsewhere.
The news report is here.

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