Tag Archive | genetics

Cancer Roulette

roulette

It really saddens me when I hear comments like, “I ate a vegan diet, ran 5 miles a day, was in perfect mental and spiritual health, BUT I STILL GOT CANCER!”  It certainly perpetuates the myth, “There is nothing I can do about cancer”, which is one of the four common myths recognized by World Cancer Day.  (You can read the other myths here.)

A few years ago, I met a middle aged man in a hospital.  He was overweight, a heavy smoker, and had just suffered a near fatal heart attack.  While his doctor and his family pleaded with him to make lifestyle changes, the man refused, saying, “My grandfather was over-weight his whole life and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, and he lived to be 93!”

When I mention to people that I eat a mainly plant based diet, I often get comments like, “I don’t believe that diet has anything to do with cancer.  My great-aunt Ellie ate a medium rare steak every day of her life, and she lived to be 100.”

Do you see something wrong with the logic in these three examples?   I am happy for great-aunt Ellie, God bless her, but folks, if you are going to eat a medium rare steak every day of your life, aren’t you begging for a heart attack, stomach cancer, and a host of other illnesses?   I would imagine that chubby great-grandad had great genes, if he lived to be 93 while smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, but would you want to play cancer roulette with your life?  It is a sad fact of life that some people who take excellent care of their bodies get sick anyway, but is that a good reason to “let yourself go” when it comes to healthy living?

Here is what is flawed with the logic:  You cannot take a single case study and use it to justify your opinions when it goes against a multitude of scientific studies which suggest otherwise.  Sure, there are some cases of people who smoked all of their lives and lived to be a ripe old age without major health complications.   However, there are literally millions of cases of people who smoked cigarettes and died from illnesses related to their habit.

I am sure that there is a delicate inter-play of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle choices in the game of cancer roulette.   I am equally sure that by practicing a healthy lifestyle, I am removing some of the bullets from that gun.  That does not guarantee that the cancer bullet won’t get me in the end, but if it does, I will die knowing that I did my best to unload that gun.  What about you?  I would love to hear your opinions!

 

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