Not entirely so

Most cancers are caused by bad luck not genes or lifestyle

“Bad luck” isn’t quite le mot juste.

Researchers found that two thirds of cancers are driven by random mistakes in cell division which are completely outside of our control.

It’s necessary not to starve to death, avoid being eaten by sabre toothed tigers, not get smallpox, for long enough for those multiplying cells to go wrong. Something is going to get you and the later whatever it is the more luck you’ve had.

14 thoughts on “Not entirely so”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    Something is going to get you and the later whatever it is the more luck you’ve had.

    I think this is the moment we all need to say thank you to the engineers who have made it possible for us all to live long enough to die horribly of cancer. Luck it isn’t.

    On the other hand a lot of things can screw up cell division. Some are luck – random radiation exposure for instance. Some are not – some chemicals actually do what the Greenies all hysterically insist they do.

    On the other hand, it seems some of the geniuses who are in charge think the lucky ones are those with cancer:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2893367/Cancer-best-way-die-allows-people-time-say-goodbye-loved-ones-says-leading-doctor.html

    I can see his point. I suppose. But there is something wrong with him if he thinks we are ever going to stop trying not to die of something.

  2. Cancer is a disease caused by the advancement of modern medicine that has cured all the other diseases. We cure cancer, they’ll be something else that will be the number one killer and charities will be created to fight that.

    We all die from something.

  3. It’s like when you read such headlines such as “Cancer is now the number 1 killer of children!!” or something. Well that’s actually probably a good thing because they’re not dying of polio or smallpox anymore.

  4. That Daily Mail article is interesting, but I’m fairly convinced is quotes taken out of context. But it does follow a line of thinking I’ve held for as long as I can remember which now gives me some internal conflict.

    My 3 year old son was diagnosed with Leukaemia 9 weeks ago. Long story short, his chances of full recovery are in the region of 98%, but it is three and a half years of hard graft to get there. I don’t doubt that the good doctor doesn’t mean to apply the don’t treat logic to my sons, or similar cases.

    That said, if my Son had been diagnosed with exactly the same condition in the 60’s, his chances of recovery would be in single digit percentages and more from luck than any real judgement. That is how much is known and has been learned from treatment in the intervening period. Put these figures into the mixer and the comment would likely have applied then, and for some period afterwards, to my sons case.

    However, giving the staggeringly low incidence of childhood leukaemia (1 in 2500 kids, I think, but this includes other forms of leukamia which don’t have the same, and in many cases far worse, prognosis, so lets go with 1 in 4000 as a made up stat for our case), whilst I’m thankful for the research that has been undertaken, I still strongly believe that the cost of that research, taken in conjunction with the overall benefits (ignoring the “Oh Cancer in kids is terrible” factor – and I will still never understand why it is more terrible for children to have Cancer than adults) won’t stack up, compared with the difference that level of research funding could have made in other areas of health.

  5. You don’t have to go back to the 60s. There’s been massive improvement since the 90s. Son of a friend died of leukaemia in the 90s and odd then were 50/50

  6. As I understand it, there have really been only two substantial advances in the cancer biz. (i) Childhood cancers, and (ii) the Stop Smoking campaigns.

    The latter now has a potentially wonderful ally, to wit e-fags. And so the bien pensants want to ban ’em. Brilliant!

  7. I buried my father this year; he died after a long fight against prostate cancer. He’ll never now have Alzheimer’s, which has robbed my mother – in – law of her memory, her reason, her dignity. I’ll take cancer, but I’d prefer a massive heart attack.

  8. Ahh, the whole of science in a nutshell.

    Bad luck the light got trapped in the black hole.

    Bad luck that you can’t tell how fast and electron is going and where it is.

    Everything is just jolly bad luck, innit?

    Bad luck, old boy = phlogiston.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    john miller – “Bad luck, old boy = phlogiston.”

    I am not sure where you are going with that but I note that the British Medical Journal banned the word “accident”. As any and all incidents could be predicted and prevented.

    Thus Britain’s finest medical minds joined traditional Africans in refusing to accept bad luck and putting everything down to the malicious influence of witchcraft.

    Some times bad luck is bad luck

  10. Ironman: but I’d prefer a massive heart attack.

    another reason to buy ‘The Joy of Tax’…

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The DNA copying gubbins (a combination of hardware and software) inside every cell is truly astounding. A friend of mine is a cancer surgeon and she says there’s something like 10,000 potentially cancer-causing mutagenic incidents per day in the average body. Almost all of them are detected, day in and day out, and corrected seamlessly, otherwise we’d never even get out of the womb without turning into a giant tumorous blob.

  12. Meissen

    I don’t think discovering The Joy of Tax is wank would be a big enough shock to induce a heart attack.

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