This is wonderful news, and it's true - sort of. In 2004, 553,888 Americans died from cancer, compared with 556,902 deaths the year before.
So, in 2004, there were 3,014 fewer deaths, or a drop of one-half of one per cent, which is gratifying, but this one year hardly warrants the crowing from President Bush, oncologists and the American Cancer Society, a spokesman for which said: "The hard work towards preventing cancer, catching it early, and making treatments more effective is paying dramatic, lifesaving dividends."
That's a big and celebratory statement for a one-half of one per cent reduction. Sadly, cancer deaths have risen or remained roughly the same for the last 70 years in America, and against that, the 2004 figures look more like a blip than a battle that's being won.
Worse, this mutual back-slapping stops the testing of other cancer treatments, which have shown potential in a series of anecdotal studies. Instead, it sustains the delusion that the conventional treatments really are effective, which is sadly only true for some cancers, and those caught in the earliest stages.
(Source: Townsend Letter, 2007; 286: 35-6).
E-news broadcast 26 April 2007 No.354 [Subscribe]