Nixon’s other war

Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 02010 by Kirk Citron
link Categories: Long News   chat 0 Comments

The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

In 1971, President Nixon declared “war on cancer.” In the forty years since, the U.S. has spent some $200 billion on research, but we’ve only cut the death rate by 5% (measured since 1950). Cancer still accounts for 13% of deaths worldwide. Still, there have been some recent developments that might show some promise:

1. This must be good news:
Scientists crack ‘entire genetic code’ of cancer

2. We’re discovering new methods of detection:
Microchip that can detect type and severity of cancer
Magnetic nanotags spot cancer in mice

3. There are a host of new therapies:
‘Nanobubbles’ kill cancer cells
Nanotech gene therapy kills ovarian cancer
Toward a nanomedicine for brain cancer
Killing cancer like a vampire slayer

4. It’s all about the switches:
Switch that turns on the spread of cancer discovered
Researchers create drug to keep tumor growth switched off

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.

  • TS

    Amidst all the microchips and nanotech and gene sequencing, let’s not ignore the possibilities offered by more ancient active ingredients:

    Could Frankincense Revolutionise Cancer Treatment?
    http://heritage-key.com/blogs/veigapaula/could-frankincense-revolutionise-cancer-treatment

  • Ben

    Should we cure cancer? I’ve lost people I care about to cancer, but death is necessary. Cancer isn’t contagious and it generally strikes people in the last third of their life. If we cure it, we take away one of nature’s most effective means of population control. As much as I appreciate people’s desire to overcome death and sickness, it seems like the path we’re on now is going to lead to a small, exceptionally long-living, mostly white post-industrial society that survives mostly by the labor of a short-lived, non-white under-developed society.

  • This TEDMed video of David Angus just posted is the best I’ve seen at framing the problem. If there is a Long News story about cancer, this is it:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/david_agus_a_new_strategy_in_the_war_on_cancer.html

  • Also of promise is increasing information on how lifestyle and diet contribute to cancer, which is distinct from reducing it’s risk. i.e. we know increasingly more via science and research that some aspects of modern ‘progressive’ society seem to cause our bodies to become cancerous. See Michael Pollan on processed and chemical foods. See Martin Seligman on personal outlook and perspective. We may someday be able to quantitatively measure a mental, emotional, spiritual, or other health factor like we now measure cholesterol levels.

  • Ed McGuigan

    I must confess to being a little ignorant as regards cancer. However, I think the far greater human tragedy is our mass cluelessness about how to live life happily. I know this is a little woolly but it seems to me that if we concentrated our energies in encouraging healthier more fulfilling living, liberating ourselves from the unnecessary stresses of life and learning to accept life as it is, we would get a lot closer to eliminating cancer than by declaring “war” on it along with every other thing we go to war with.

  • Markus G.

    The failure in the war on cancer is greatly exagerated.

    Rates of cancer incidence follow a sort of bath-tub curve similar to the “infant mortality” and “wear-out” of mehanical parts or electrical circuits. The risk of cancer starts small for babies, goes down to a very low background rate of almost nothing and after your thirties or so it runs away exponentially with advancing age.

    What that means is that if you don’t die from something else first you’ll probably die of cancer. Well, we’ve done a fairly good job preventing deaths from the “something else” category. On average you’re going to live longer and be more likely to die from cancer.

    If you look at survival rates for cancer in young adults and children there has been a HUGE improvement since the 1950’s.

    E.g. http://www.forschenheiltkrebs.eu/public/img/non_layout/projekt/DIRECT_ueberlebensraten_english_WR_101208.jpg

    If you look at cancer survival rates as a whole, the picture is not as good:

    http://rex.nci.nih.gov/NCI_Pub_Interface/raterisk/rates28.html

    Why is that? Because old farts are more fragile than young adults; there is a signficant probability they won’t survive a 5 year period even absent the cancer, chemotherapy and harsh radiotherapy(which is basically cycling in and out of radiation poisioning, even though you try to keep exposure in healthy tissue to a minimum).


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