Why Cancer Just Won't Die
It's partly statistics, partly the nature of the disease: George Johnson
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2014 5:30 PM CST
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – When someone is dying these days, it often seems to be cancer—but that doesn't mean we've lost the war against this dreadful disease, writes George Johnson at the New York Times. Cancer's resilience is partly statistical: Heart disease has plummeted 68% since 1958 while cancer has dropped only 10%, making cancer nearly our No. 1 cause of death (as per this CDC graph). But also, "the comparison is unfair," Johnson writes. "Cancer is, by far, the harder problem—a condition deeply ingrained in the nature of evolution and multicellular life."

In other words, the cellular mutations that make cancer possible are necessary for evolution. Cancer cells are following the Darwinian rules—mutating and evolving—only they're spreading a genetic error that is ultimately lethal. Despite this, we've significantly reduced stomach cancer (thanks to better refrigeration and public sanitation) and lung cancer (where anti-smoking campaigns have taken hold). So give scientists a break—especially considering that cancer becomes more likely as our cells mutate over the years. "A body will come to a point where it has outwitted every peril life has thrown at it," writes Johnson. "If the heart holds out, then waiting at the end will be cancer." Click for his full piece, or read about treatment that kills cancer "like a cold."

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Liberal-Lib
Jan 6, 2014 10:58 AM CST
I am preparing for my 3rd colonscopy in ten years. Since my father died of colon cancer many years ago in his fifties, I've begun to get screened on a regular basis. Yes, it's a bit discomforting and embarrassing, but nobody died of embarrassment. I gave up cigarettes for good well over a decade ago after many years of trying and failing. I try to eat vegetables, exercise when I can and avoid exposure to things that might increase my proclivity to cancer. I'm not out in the sun any longer than I need to be and I'm getting my home checked for radon. The bottom line is that we all have certain things we need to do to try to avoid the cancer that seems to be lurking everywhere. Can we live forever? No. Can we try to increase our odds of living longer, healthier and cancer free? Sure. If the big C is going to get me, I'd much rather it get me at 88 or 78 than at 58 like my dad. We all have too much to live for, right?
thegayblade
Jan 6, 2014 6:04 AM CST
Like war and many other human ailments, cancer is just another form of population control. It's mother nature's way of culling the herd. I do hope we can find a cure to these awful auto-immune diseases though.
captue Cash
Jan 6, 2014 5:27 AM CST
Actually cancer DIED YEARS AGO,but the medical companies seeing what a great money spinner the medication/specialist docs are it has been 'resurected'.In switzerland i saw a programme where this giant body scanner magnet literally sucks the cancer cells out and shrinks them. But obviously this will not earn money so project 'sidelined' Like Global warming/credit agencies/the ELITE will never let a 'cure'happen..