This is a new feature where I let off some steam about events related to health and nutrition in the media. This is where I let my inherent sarcasm rise to the surface and splinter the lunacy we call evidence based medicine.
The other day Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy, in order to prevent breast cancer, was played all over the media. After thinking about the situation and reading more about it, I’ve had several reactions to this news.
Honestly, my first reaction was to empathize with her — after all, when you have a high risk of a cancer, it can be scary. But then I thought — what are you crazy? I realized that I also have a high risk of cancer on both sides of my family. In my case it is colon cancer. Would I even think for one minute of surgically removing my colon to prevent cancer? Of course not and no surgeon could justify removing a colon prophylactically. While there is a pouch reconstruction, it is a very poor replacement for a colon.
Come along on my free association — would I surgically remove a kidney, a lung, my liver, my pancreas, my stomach, my brain in order to prevent cancer in these susceptible organs?
Do They Remove Testicles In Order To Prevent Testicular Cancer?
Better yet, would a surgeon recommend and perform the removal of a man’s testicles in order to prevent testicular cancer — or the prostate? You never hear of any surgeries to remove the prostate as a preventative in men. I wonder why? A man can live happily ever after without a prostate. If cancer is in the family, why not remove it?
Double mastectomies were the norm for cancer treatment years ago. Male surgeons easily lopped off a woman’s breasts when the diagnosis was breast cancer. It seems that since we now have the science (or pseudoscience) of BRCA gene testing, there is a rationale for this radical surgery. Woman are being tested for this gene and if it comes up positive a new added fear is firmly placed in their consciousness.
Here again, we have to follow the money. If double mastectomies become more fashionable — due to celebrity role models empowering women to mutilate themselves — surgeons make more money. A double mastectomy certainly costs much more than a simple lumpectomy. Additionally there is all the reconstruction surgery required — more dollars in the surgeons’ pocket.
When you are a surgeon, surgery is the only cure.
Epigenetics is an Emerging Science
Surprisingly, most people are not aware of the emerging science of epigenetics. For many years, the paradigm in scientific research was that scientists would crack the genetic code so that every disease could be linked to its gene, and then drugs could be created to modify those genes — eliminating the disease. It turns out to be much more complicated than that.
Epigenetics is a process in which a gene directs the making of a protein and that protein changes the cell environment, ultimately altering the way the gene is read.
Epigenetic changes occur when DNA makes proteins, and then those proteins change a cellular environment, causing alteration in genetic function. So, while you may have a gene that is associated with a disease, the expression of the disease may or may not occur based on the environment around the gene — in other words the nutrient, toxin and psychospiritual status of the individual.
Stress Physiology is a Large Part of Disease Risk
The above factors determine our physiology and are a major part of disease risk. In fact, this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that a cancer diagnosis can lead to increased risk of heart-related deaths and suicide in the seven days following diagnosis.
It can take weeks to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis. I fervently hope Angelina took into account the many contributing factors in disease risk to make her decision. She didn’t even have cancer — she only had a blood test — but one that too many people put much too much weight on.
Self Fulfilling Prophecies
Doctors are still seen as god-like beings, especially those involved in cancer. However, a doctor’s negative attitudes and beliefs can instill terror and hopelessness in a patient — the nocebo effect. This can be tramatic and add to the self fulfilling prophecy of dying from cancer.
We all know that our thoughts and beliefs are a large part of who we are and where we are going. Our thoughts generate physiological stress responses that can impact our health. If you really believe that you will get cancer, perhaps you will.
I absolutely HATE when doctors tell patients how long they have. In my mind, no one can predict how long one can live. There are so many factors involved that we just don’t know about. Giving a doctor the power to determine this just makes me want to shake someone and say — take control of your health and your life — don’t allow someone else that power!
The guidelines for cancer prevention given by the American Cancer Society and the US government are bogus. What you really need to know about is the impact of our food and environment on our health — and the things you need to do and can do to avoid disease. The guidelines of the Weston Price Foundation are a good place to start.
This is just my humble opinion — usually the opposite of conventional guidelines.
What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!