Is someone hiding the real cure for cancer? - (12/6/2022)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Jake came into the pharmacy to get some supplies for his wife, Evie, who was battling cancer. Jake said to the pharmacist, “You know, Evie has been on various types of chemotherapy for over 2 years now. The docs say she is doing well. But I can tell she is getting tired of the whole cancer scene.” “She looks great, and she says she feels pretty good,” replied the pharmacist. “Well, her oncologist has been trying different drugs, as well as different combinations of drugs.”  

“Do you want my opinion?” Jake said in a whisper as he moved closer to the pharmacist to make sure no one else heard him. “I think drug manufacturers are hiding a cure for cancer so they can sell more of their cancer drugs. What do you think, Doc?”

The pharmacist thinks he has heard this story before. Like the fake Moon Landing or whether Elvis is still alive, there is a thirst for conspiracy theories. And Jake is not the only one who thinks someone is hiding the cure for cancer in an underground cave somewhere. Ted Gansler, MD, is a cancer pathologist who worked at the American Cancer Society for 25 years. He heard about the “secret cure” so many times that he formally surveyed about 1,000 people and asked if they believed a conspiracy existed to conceal a cancer cure. The results were amazing. Over 27% believed that someone was hiding a cure from the public, while another 14% were not quite sure. He remarked afterward that the popularity of a hidden cure was “caused partly by ignorance, misunderstanding, and mistrust of science. Spreading conspiracy theories is a way for some people to cope with feelings of vulnerability.”

After all, cancer is scary. No one wants it but everyone knows someone who has it. Cancer is apolitical and is neither racist nor sexist. Just as there is a widely held belief that humanity is being denied a cure, the causes of cancer can be as extreme as they are bonkers. Example: microwave ovens and cell phones chop up your DNA and serve it to you on a platter of death. So, you can be nuking popcorn while texting your girlfriend and – presto! – you suddenly have a potato-sized tumor in your scrotum. Relax – not going to happen!
But let’s get into why there is no cancer cure, secret or otherwise. First, cancer is not just one thing. Approximately 200 types of cancer exist. Each one has its own characteristics. Each one has a different cause. Each one has a unique way of treating it. There is no magic bullet. An anti-cancer vaccine would be ideal. One needle jab will protect you. But until then, doctors go in and give it their best shot. Things are improving. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer rates rose throughout the 20th century until someone realized that if people stopped smoking, cancer counts would plummet. And they did. After peaking in 1991, US cancer rates dropped by a whopping 31%. Public education and earlier detection and treatment helped drive down the incidence too. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are working in cancer research. If someone did stumble upon a silver bullet, A) it would take years to test it on all the distinct types of cancer, B) the company that discovered it would want to recoup the billions they put into finding a cure, and C) someone would certainly blab the news to the world. The cat’s out of the bag, y’all! 
“The reality is,” the pharmacist said to Jake. “We have vaccines for COVID. But some people will not get them because they think the government is going to inject them with a microchip. So how do you think these same cynical folks would respond if there was suddenly a cancer cure?” “Yes,” said Jake. “I think civilization will eventually shoot itself in the foot. What do you think, Doc?”

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.


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