Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Blame Game

Lately, I've been inundated with a lot of media wherein someone says something about eating a kind of food or drinking something in particular and then links that to cancer (I'm looking at you, organic-sweet-potato-girl-who-is-obviously-reading-a-script-Grandma-wrote) without the benefit of, you know, research. Or science.

You see, this is my pet peeve. Because it seems to suggest that poor choices have led to cancer and as someone who's had cancer, I find that offensive. And inaccurate. Sure, there are behaviours that increase your risk, and the way you eat is a behaviour, but the truth is scientists only know about 40% of the reasons why cancer may occur.

Aside from a mild addiction to diet pop, I lead a very healthy lifestyle. If you could save yourself the trouble of cancer simply by eating well, I'd have always been fine. I eat well, I exercise, I don't smoke, I rarely drink. I'm the poster child for the kind of lifestyle that will save you from cancer. And if diet pop is really the culprit, you better believe I know a ton of people that dogged that magic bullet.

See, here's the thing. Cancer has been around a long time. Probably as long as humans. Scientists have discovered corpses from ancient Egypt (I'm talking King Tut styles) and have determined that they died of cancer. So it isn't some modern phenomenon caused solely by modern chemicals or GMO foods. Even if you accept the idea that more people are getting cancer (I could, but I'd want some research to back that up) you must also acknowledge that people are also living a hell of a lot longer, giving them more time to get cancer - which is, by and large, a disease of the elderly. Or, for people like myself, the old at heart.

I constantly resist the urge to rant on people's facebook pages about how this sort of casual linking of GMO foods to cancer is not only ridiculous, it's offensive. I figured here on my blog, I don't need to self censor. Now, it may be true that there is a link. But I'll wait until there is some conclusive, peer-reviewed, replicatable science out there before I start preaching at people about how they should buy only organic. From what I've read, this isn't what science says. In fact, science seems to say that there is no detectable difference between organic and non-organic food in terms of nutrient value or taste.

Would I encourage people to eat a healthy diet, and stay away from food that comes out of boxes? Of course! Do I try to avoid high-fructose anything? Yes. Would I take the extra step of saying that because someone ate a lot of Hamburger Helper it's no wonder they got cancer? No. Never. Because people are not responsible for getting cancer. Heck, there are a ton of smokers that smoke a lot and they will not get lung cancer. It is a crap shoot. You can reduce your risk; you cannot ensure you will not get cancer.

I will always encourage people to make healthier choices, but I would never, ever say "well, that's why he got cancer." If science can't tell you why, I'm not trusting the anecdotal blame of some random person and neither should you.


  1. This proves I am correct in my theory that people get cancers because they have upset the fairies that control their body's humours.

    1. Well...I did ask that one fairy to please turn down her Celine Dion music. I've made a grave mistake!