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Wed Feb 8, 2012, 06:46 PM

The cure for cancer.

I've seen repeated around here several times lately the premise that either there will never be a cure for cancer, since it's more profitable to treat it and therefore companies won't try to cure it, or that there is ALREADY a cure for cancer that's being covered up by said same conspiracy.

Fact-free "creative speculation" aside, there are three things fundamentally wrong with this.

First off, a great many medical researchers in the US are funded by universities and the government, and have no substantive ties with medical corporations or for-profit medicine at all. These scientists not only have no motivation to suppress a cancer cure, but strong counter-motivations: the discovery of a cure for cancer would save millions of lives, catapult the discoverer to historical immortality akin to Jonas Salk, and also make said discoverer filthy rich forever. Not even off the drug, just off of their book sales and tours. To believe that there is a cure for cancer being suppressed, or that a cure isn't actively being sought, is to suggest that either all of these scientists are either completely incompetent, or that they're protecting the medical industry at the expense of themselves and their descendants for the next ten generations.

Secondly, people greatly overestimate the amount of profit that there is in treating cancer. Treatments like chemotherapy are long-established and have few to no patents on the most common drugs used for them; the average profit margin on chemotherapy drugs is 6%, which is probably less than on the aspirin in your medicine cabinet. Likewise, radiation therapy machines are difficult and expensive to build, but have fairly simple and non-patented functions. Cancer treatment is expensive because of the extensive testing involved, time, expertise, lab work, and complications, not because it's a major profit center.

Third and finally, a company actually possessing a cure for cancer would be sitting on one of the greatest gold mines in modern medical history. Cancer costs just in the US alone are estimated to hit $158 billion a year by 2020; worldwide, cancer costs $1 trillion dollars a year. A medical company which could step in and offer a cure for HALF the cost of current, unreliable treatment would be the most profitable corporation in the world, dwarfing the entire oil industry put together. And that number would rise rapidly. Making cancer survivable would lead to longer lifespans, which results in more cancers, and thus more cures. It's not an unreasonable estimate that a company which came up with a cure for cancer would make enough money off of it to singlehandedly pay off the entire US national debt.

So no, despite some people competing for the title of "most cynical," it does NOT make sense to suggest that cancer is deliberately not being cured, or that a cure is being suppressed for nefarious purposes. It's not. In fact, there's many and compelling reasons why people are researching cancer cures completely aside from the humanitarian value.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply The cure for cancer. (Original post)
TheWraith Feb 2012 OP
1ProudAtheist Feb 2012 #1
elleng Feb 2012 #2
TheWraith Feb 2012 #4
cthulu2016 Feb 2012 #5
Nikia Feb 2012 #8
virgogal Feb 2012 #3
veganlush Feb 2012 #6
Nikia Feb 2012 #7

Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 06:48 PM

1. Donate To PP

 

Leave Komen out of the equation. Watch them shrivel and die on the vine.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 06:52 PM

2. And keep in mind there are so MANY cancers,

likely 'one cure' impossible.

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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 06:53 PM

4. That too. "Cancer" is really a class of ailments, like viruses.

Rather than a single thing. But people talk about a cure for "cancer" in a way they don't talk about a cure for "virus."

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Response to elleng (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 07:00 PM

5. I disagree. A cure is different than treatment

The treatments we have for different cancers are all different but it colorectal cancer is ever truly reliably cured then I would expect breast cancer to be cured the same year.

A real cure (reliable method for utterly eliminating the disease, rather than managing it) would probably extend to all cancers and HIV/AIDS and some other stuff, all in on swoop.

The cures would not be identical, in the same way vaccines against different viruses are not identical, but they would be the same method -- some means tailored specific to the patient to make the cancer (or HIV or other things) more "visible" to her immune system.

Once we can do that reliably it would be applicable to a wide ranges of diseases.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 07:29 PM

8. I think that is one approach that is being researched

Whether it is to make it more visible to the immune system or specifically identifiable to some kind of drug or radiation that would target them. I also seem to remember a potential cure that involved cutting off the blood supply to tumors.
Depending on the approach, a cure to cancer may or may not be a cure to viral diseases.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 06:53 PM

3. Cancer isn't one disease,it is many diseases. It will always be with us in one form

or another.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 07:13 PM

6. I guess we should look at the

cancer rates of those people who would be privy to the "truth". How many of the people such as the scientists, etc, at the epicenter of such a cover-up die of cancer?

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 07:23 PM

7. I agree especially with your first point

I went to college with a very strong biology program. There was a very high percentage of students who were going on to medical or graduate school. There were a number of students who dreamed of curing cancers. Some of them had personal reasons, like a friend or relative that died of cancer. Others were out for the fame and fortune. I remember a discussion where they were sure that doing that would win a Nobel Prize.
If any of those classmates discovered the cure, I doubt that they would suppress it.

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