September 29, 2014

What causes cancer?

"Everything, gives you cancer, There's no cure, there's no answer."

- Joe Jackson

Well yeah, because of all the chemicals and pollution and corporations and stuff, right?


The point is that life expectancy and the percentage of Americans reaching old age are both increasing. That explains why, as a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine showed, cancer was the #8 cause of death in 1900 but the #2 cause of death in 2010.* We aren't dying of cancer because of Monsanto's pesticides and GMOs, as one lady recently said to me in an e-mail. We are dying of cancer because we are running out of things to die from.

Cool article. Very short. Alex B. Berezow explains that we are, slowly, winning the war on cancer.

Science Posted by JohnGalt at September 29, 2014 3:10 PM

A mind blowing (to me) insight from Matt Ridley's "Genome" was that Cancer strikes after reproductive years (probabilities/tendencies). Ergo, there is no evolutionary selection for immunity. Elephants and tortoises live long, low-predator lives and bear young throughout. So the things that kill old tortoises are less present in the gene pool.

This adds to and does not refute any of the points you made. But there is some real poetry in Ridley's and Hawkins's deeper looks at genetics.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:18 PM | What do you think? [1]