Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Health Matters

I’m baffled why those of us who live in the U.S. allow our health care to be so thoroughly subordinated to the profit motive.

Take, for instance, cancer and the emphasis on treatment, including expensive drugs, radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Why hasn't been there been more emphasis on the causes of cancer and how to prevent it?

Dr. Devra Davis, (photo) Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer institute, answers this question in her book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer.

Yesterday Dr. Davis was interviewed by Michael Krasny on. KQED. Dr. Davis pointed out that the link between smoking and cancer was discovered in the 1930’s but was suppressed by the tobacco companies for decades. Her research, which appears to be extensive, has revealed that cancer-causing agents have not been eliminated from consumer goods, even after they are known to cause cancer, because of the profit motive. Dr. Davis also cautions about the use of cell phones, citing a Swedish study that indicates that ten continuous years of cell phone use has resulted in twice as many brain tumors. Dr. Davis urged listeners to check the website Prevent Cancer Now. The audio, an hour long, is available here.

A brief description of The Secret History of the War on Cancer from the publisher, The Perseus Books Group: “The War on Cancer set out to find, treat, and cure a disease. Left untouched were many of the things known to cause cancer, including tobacco, the workplace, radiation, or the global environment. Proof of how the world in which we live and work affects whether we get cancer was either overlooked or suppressed. This has been no accident. The War on Cancer was run by leaders of industries that made cancer-causing products, and sometimes also profited from drugs and technologies for finding and treating the disease. Filled with compelling personalities and never-before-revealed information, The Secret History of the War on Cancer shows how we began fighting the wrong war, with the wrong weapons, against the wrong enemies—a legacy that persists to this day. This is the gripping story of a major public health effort diverted and distorted for private gain. A portion of the profits from this book will go to support research on cancer prevention.”

(photos of book jacket and Dr. Devra Davis, The Perseus Book Groups)

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