Among the books that have framed my thinking on health and disease, Devra Davis’ The Secret History on the War on Cancer is among the top ten. In this exquisitely detailed but very readable 500-page history of the cancer industry, we see how everything from the metaphors used to discuss cancer, to the politics, economics, and ethics conspire to prevent the very ends they seek to achieve. The war on cancer will not and cannot prevent a single cancer. Indeed, if history and data are any indication, the war on cancer and all that it involves, has increased the rate of cancer many fold. A disease that was rare and all but unheard of before the World War I, now afflicts 1-2 men and 1-3 women at some point over their lifetimes. It is a leading cause of death of middle-aged persons and second leading cause of death in children.
The war on cancer from its inception through modern times is nothing more than a facade meant to lull us into accepting modern poisons. As early as 1936, the research was clear that cancer was about environmental exposure. In other words, chemical exposures. Much of this was documented in the proceedings of the Second International Congress of Scientific and Social Campaign Cancer, that was buried, not in the US in the Library of Congress or any other remote accessible library, but in Belgium. The three volume report contained detailed information, with laboratory and clinical reports dating back 30 years prior to its publication regarding how cancer develops, over what time course and relative to what exposures – known at the time. Back then, the primary drivers were ionizing and solar radiation, arsenic, benzenes, asbestos, synthetic dyes and synthetic hormones (DES, among them). Sadly, those primary drivers still exist today, while thousands of others have been added.
Why have we allowed so many carcinogenetic compounds into the living environment? The short answer is money and politics; the root of just about all modern disease. How the war on cancer and how medicine itself came to be so indebted to the very industries causing the disease is much more complicated, however, and involves everything from how we test these chemicals, to how we talk about them, and how we justify their use and their dangers. Davis meticulously details this history. She tells the story of those involved on both sides of the battle, from the scientists who demonstrate the connections between chemical exposures and cancer to those who dissimulate those connections for prestige and profit. In this history, we see the seeds for what later become the Tobacco Playbook and for what has since guided all discussions regarding every poison currently on the market, whether it be industrial, environmental, agricultural or even medical.
After reading this book, it is difficult not become a bit jaded, but how can we not educate ourselves about such things? Can one remain healthy if one maintains ignorance regarding chemical industry? I don’t think so. While this is not a book that promises healing or anything of the sort, it is important for understanding the bigger picture, and that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold. For if we understand the framework through which diseases emerge and from which medical treatments are considered, are we not better prepared to make decisions regarding our health and that of our family’s health?
This is an important subject; one that I guarantee will influence your health decisions going forward. If you buy this book from the link below, we get a few dollars to support the website.
Why has the “War on Cancer” languished, focusing mainly on finding and treating the disease and downplaying the need to control and combat cancer’s basic causes — tobacco, the workplace, radiation, and the general environment? This war has targeted the wrong enemies with the wrong weapons, failing to address well-known cancer causes.
As epidemiologist Devra Davis shows in this superbly researched expose, this is no accident. The War on Cancer has followed the commercial interests of industries that generated a host of cancer-causing materials and products. This is the gripping story of a major public health effort diverted and distorted for private gain that is being reclaimed through efforts to green health care and the environment.
Last updated on October 21, 2023 at 9:39 pm – Image source: Amazon Affiliate Program. All statements without guarantee.
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