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 Post subject: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:43 am 
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The majority of cancers are the result of bad luck rather than unhealthy lifestyles or inherited genetic faults, scientists have discovered.

[...]

Researchers found that more than two thirds of cancers are driven by random mistakes in cell division which are completely outside of our control.

They found that the more cells need to divide to stay healthy, the more likely cancer is to develop.

It is the first time that scientists have been able to explain why some cancers are more common than others.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science ... ign=buffer


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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:42 pm 
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That will help get rid of disease shaming, though I can understand the appeal of believing otherwise in that at least there is something you can do.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:56 pm 
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I don't know, it actually feels a little shaming to me. Like, look at me! I'm unlucky! Born under a bad star.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:56 pm 
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I don't get it...how is that shaming anyone?

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:11 pm 
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Virgina Messina recently coined the term "disease shaming" in a blog post she made. She was referring to how vegans will make comments when people get cancer to the effect that it was the person's diet that did them in and if the person was vegan, they weren't vegan enough to keep the cancer away. Interestingly in her post she mentioned that many vegan cancer patients also internalize that blame, though doctors will tell them their diet had nothing to do with it.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:51 pm 
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is there something we can do to keep our cells from dividing too much?

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:24 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
is there something we can do to keep our cells from dividing too much?


Die.

(Although that leads to dividing too little. Balance is hard I guess.)

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:05 pm 
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Our cells naturally divide, it is part of how our body works. It sounds like random chance on whether our cells will divide 'wrong' and if that happens, cancer can form.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:17 pm 
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it sounded like by this line "They found that the more cells need to divide to stay healthy, the more likely cancer is to develop." that some things we do make cells divide more rapidly. (i suspect injury to said cells makes our bodies need to divide more cells to replace the injured ones. which explains why sunburns can lead to skin cancer, and smoking to lung cancer.)

this is a fascinating explanation, and makes so much sense. of COURSE it's because the cells are dividing more. that's how chance works. i never thought of it from that angle.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:34 pm 
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Yeah, I liked how much sense it made, too. It's a simple explanation.

I think when they say "need to divide" they're just talking about how often different parts of the body regenerate. Not due to any environmental cause or injury, just the amount they regenerate day to day.


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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:35 pm 
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Well with sunburn UV causes DNA damage and the process of repair is what causes mutations in DNA. If the mutation happens in a part of dna that is a regulatory gene, then you can get cancer. In that case it's not as simple as cell division. In the case of smoking, there are lots of carcinogens in smoke that mess with DNA. If it's a compound like benzene, it's chemically similar to the molecules in DNA and can insert itself between base pairs, leading to mistakes during DNA replication. In other cases carcinogens in smoke can chemically react with DNA causing it to "cross link", or be chemically bonded in ways that inhibit accurate replication during cell division. Other carcinogens can cause oxidative damage.

In the article they're referring to organs that have a lot of cell turnover. I would expect those cells to suffer from errors in dna replication more than organs that have slow cell division processes. However, sometimes there are redundancies in those organs to account for infidelity.

That being said, it's well accepted among (my) scientific community that it's a numbers game and very dependent on the cell you're looking at. Maybe this is the first time there's been a rigorous statistical analysis. I think it's really good to make it common knowledge in the general population. There's not much you can do to slow cell division. That was the basis behind the restricted calorie diets that they did in rats. My chem prof in undergrad was part of the clinical trials to see if the effect was the same in humans. It wasn't. The fact is, many organs need rapid cellular turnover to function properly. Also, exercise, diet, etc can help keep you healthy and there are lots of reasons why that stimulates your body to make repairs in damages cells. But, a lot of it is also up to chance which I find equally terrifying and a relief.

Eta-- Molly jade beat me to it!

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:48 pm 
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I guess the other thing I'd say wrt shaming is that it's more avoidance of the really bad things that in modern life we have increased access to that we should strive for. As in, stay away from excess uv and x-Rays. Stay away from intercalating agents present in smoke, coal, and tar. Stay away from halogenated compounds. Don't eat an excessive amount of nitrates. Don't ingest an excessive amount of pesticides. Stuff that is kind of a no-brainer these days.

Eating more kale and fewer potato chips probably helps more with heart disease than cancer and the nutty health vegans who shame cancer patients can suck a big one imho.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:02 am 
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Nebraskalaska wrote:
I don't get it...how is that shaming anyone?


I don't want to be seen as "unlucky." Like, duh, I already know it wasn't the best of luck to get cancer.

It is just more speculation and it isn't helpful. Another label.

Just my opinion [as an "unlucky" cancer "survivor"], blah blah blah.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:43 pm 
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Thanks for sharing that Sz. I think a lot of us are sensitive to blaming people for their cancer due to recent trends mentioned above, so it's good to have another point of view.


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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:35 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
I guess the other thing I'd say wrt shaming is that it's more avoidance of the really bad things that in modern life we have increased access to that we should strive for. As in, stay away from excess uv and x-Rays. Stay away from intercalating agents present in smoke, coal, and tar. Stay away from halogenated compounds. Don't eat an excessive amount of nitrates. Don't ingest an excessive amount of pesticides. Stuff that is kind of a no-brainer these days.


OK I consider myself well read and a (social) scientist, but all of that isn't a no-brainer to me. Like, I was just wondering as I passed through the airport yesterday, and my son asked me about the full body scanner, how much is too much x-rays? We get them nowadays for so many things, from teeth to pregnancy to bursitis.

Then, I don't know exactly what "intercalating agents" are but I'm guessing smog. How exactly is one supposed to stay away from that in modern America? Similarly, I don't know what "halogenated compounds" are. Sure I can google it but I'm making a point, this isn't common knowledge.

Nitrates OK, don't eat hotdogs and bologna I guess? (check) Not sure about how to stay away from pesticides unless you can afford to buy absolutely everything organic, which who can? I try to buy organic as much as I can, but I also have doubts about the organic pesticides used and their safety...

I don't mean to disparage your comment...on the contrary I think it could be useful advice if broken down. I mean, can I be the only one who doesn't know all this stuff already?

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:37 am 
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Yeah, that doesn't seem like no-brainer stuff to me either. I have no idea what a halogenated compounds or intercalating agents are, I'd never considered not going though the X-Ray machine at the airport and I would have no clue how to measure what an excessive amount of pesticides would be.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:08 am 
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jojo wrote:
Yeah, that doesn't seem like no-brainer stuff to me either. I have no idea what a halogenated compounds or intercalating agents are, I'd never considered not going though the X-Ray machine at the airport and I would have no clue how to measure what an excessive amount of pesticides would be.


This (except I often try to talk myself out of being scanned at the airport).

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:36 am 
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i dunno- i can see it from both sides. There is a lot of blaming with cancer- people immediately seem to make some theoretical connection with what you did to deserve it. I say skin cancer and everyone immediately starts with tanning and sunblock. My cancer is not that kind of cancer. The places that I have had cancer removed have never seen the sun. They may be due to my father's agent orange exposure but we'll never really know.
On the one hand, you have cancer, you know, yes, okay, I have bad luck, I got the short straw. Like you say, Sz, yeah, thanks for rubbing it in. On the other hand there may be less of this "blame" kind of crepe.

What concerns me about the story is that there are cancers that are linked to certain behaviors. Saying "cancer is just a lottery" shouldn't be an excuse for doing things that have been proven to increase cancer risk- or risk to other people's health, like Xray or chemical exposure, for example (airport workers, for example, I really shudder to think about if we are going to find out in ten years that their cancer rates are through the roof.)

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:59 am 
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The disease shaming really came from certain vegan advocates (Furhman, Barnard) who claim that you can prevent cancer and other diseases by eating vegan. So then you see followers say that vegans don't get cancer and that if you do it is because you ate improperly (too many processed foods, oil, sugar, etc). I've seen people say things like vegans don't get diabetes, vegans don't get cancer, vegans have low cholesterol, etc, etc. So the answer if you have these issues is to 'eat better'. And towards non-vegans, they are even harsher indicating directly that it is their fault for eating animal products.

I think we can do all the things we can and follow all the guidelines and still get cancer. It is a mixture of environment, genetics and as this indicates, probability.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:29 am 
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the tone I got from the article wasn't to much about that it's no-brainer or not, but that we're all exposed to way more weirdness than ever before in history - some folks will get by and be lucky, and some folks will get cancer. it doesn't discriminate (much) depending on how you live your life in general.

or, put another way, in a pool of a million perfect health-food-vegans, there will still be members of that pool that get cancer due to "bad luck"

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:45 pm 
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jojo wrote:
I'd never considered not going though the X-Ray machine at the airport


Conversely, I never consider going through that machine at the airport as an option.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:34 pm 
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The article says that, what? Somewhere around a third of cancers aren't head-scratching, we'll-never-know-what-caused-or-contributed-to-that kinds of things. They are plenty of cancers that result from known (or knowable) stuff in our environments (that is, the world outside our genomes and probability, and so on). Which to me, perversely, is good news. There are things we have (more) control over. We are not only at the mercy of blind chance. Of course, there will be nonsmokers who will develop lung cancer (just as there are heavy smokers who won't), but that's no reason to forgo the sunscreen or binge on bacon and cheese. And, of course, none of this means anyone deserves cancer (now there's a ghoulish thought).

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:44 pm 
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yeah, if i were to get cancer, it'd probably be skin cancer. i so rarely wear sunscreen (and i'm an irish gardener) i wear it early in the season to get my skin acclimated, and because that's when outside time is at an all-time high, but as the season goes on, i couldn't be bothered. (oops!) i do try to wear hats, but then i'll wear a tank-top with it. especially in the summer.

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:27 pm 
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supercarrot wrote:
yeah, if i were to get cancer, it'd probably be skin cancer.

if only it were that predictable :P

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 Post subject: Re: "The average cancer patient is just unlucky."
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:55 pm 
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eh. it runs in the family. all different types. the odds aren't in my favor. i've already come to terms with something that hasn't happened yet. :-)

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