> As people become
>healthier and live longer, cancer rates will go up, all else being equal.
Sometimes the unwritten assumptions of our culture surface, and this
provides opportunity to question them.
Is it true that people are becoming healthier in the US or even in the
world? I don't think so when medical treatments are such a huge part of the
Are people living longer? I'm not so sure of this either as I haven't heard
that life expectancy figures have been changing significantly in the US in
recent decades, and I haven't heard of this occurring in countries not
subject to war and famine either. But what do I know?
Will cancer rates go up as people live longer? I don't see the correlation
here. As societies have become industrialized cancer rates have generally
risen. But this may not have anything to do with longevity but rather may
have to do with pollution and stress increasing. It is pretty clear that
increasing pollution and stress DO correlate with industrialization. It
might be interesting to see whether longevity amongst pastoral people such
as Hunzas or Peruvian Indians has increased or not and whether cancer rates
have risen or not.
Another unwritten assumption that might be drawn from the quote above is
that longer life is better. Who says? Is the quality of life in a nursing
home to be desired? My mother lived to 92 and suffered from Alzheimers so
badly that her last couple years had to be spent in a nursing home. This
was something she had expressed fear about all my life, and in the nursing
home she had to be sedated to be managable. This was a woman whose
capabilities well up into her 80s were a lighthouse in the dark night
around her. The contrast between the quality of life when she was able and
the quality when she was not was striking. It didn't sit well with her
either. Cancer might have been more merciful in some respects since it
probably wouldn't have dragged on so. I have to question whether I would
wish such things on even my most vile and disgusting acquaintances.
In all I can see where our priorities lie in present society. And there's
something to be said about how our assumptions have led us to this pass. I,
for one, think we ought to take a good look at these things and consider
where we want to go from here.
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