Oooh! Breast Cancer!

Just before Christmas, we were picking through the remnants of discounted Christmas ornaments at a local store. A little girl was there with her Mom. The girl squealed, "Ooh! Breast Cancer!" in a voice reserved in former generations for Batman and Superman ornaments. The girl was oggling some breast cancer-themed Christmas ornament. When the hell did breast cancer get its own action figure?
Don't get me wrong. Cancer is bad. Breast cancer is bad. I lost an aunt to breast cancer. But everywhere you turn there are these pink ribbons. Before every movie, the ushers would stand up at the front of the theatre and try to talk me into donating to breast cancer. So, I paid $10 for a ticket; the concession stand has a bunch of cancer causing items for sale-- all of which cost $4+ each. While waiting for the movie, I am bombarded with ads. But they interupt those ads for a breast cancer plea. GIVE ME A BREAK!
Breast cancer has been so amplified that you can't go to an event or watch television without getting challenged. We do need to throw more money at research-- all sorts of medical research. By emphasizing breast cancer, we run the risk of eclisping other forms of cancer. Look at it this way:
  • Only half of the population has breasts. I don't want to say we should ignore something like breast or prostate cancer, but everyone has a liver and most people have two lungs.
  • Some types of breast cancer is genetic. That means they've hit a finish line for some kinds of breast cancer: if they follow the same protocols as other types of genetic diseases, they could close off that line of cancer. That is easier than it sounds. This sort of cancer presents itself in the latter childbearing years so its likely that a woman has passed it on before she knows she has it. In today's world of diminishing health coverage, early screening is unlikely. If we could detect genetic cursors; and small tumors early, we could catch cancer early.
Prevention isn't popular in the medical profession. Doctors cannot bill for a healthy heart; or charge for a bypass they never have to do. Healthy people will deprive the medical professionals of their livelihood. I've said it before: if you build a utopia and make everyone immortal, your first problem will be a lot of out-of-work doctors.
We need to look mainly at prevention. Once we spy down that rabbit hole, we need to go as far as that goes. Everyone thinks that cigarettes cause cancer. I could believe that there is a linkage, but there is ink in the water. Everyone exposed to cigarettes are also exposed to car exhaust; and they live in a electricified society (no? what are you reading this post on?). Many non-smokers die of lung cancer and most of them have been exposed to car exhaust. The prevalence of cancer comes in step with the rise of the automobile and electricity. What if the nemesis of breast cancer was a car-free lifestyle or a world with fewer EM bleeding doo-dads? Sure, we'll wear little pink ribbon. Would you park your car to save yourself from breast cancer; or rescue your mother or aunt or sister? If you think Big Tobacco is a formidable opponent to the question of what causes cancer, imagine the resistance mounted by the auto-makers, the people like Enron and oil companies. If ending cancer isn't that important, why is some usher interuptting my movie?


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