Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

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stand@desk
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Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by stand@desk »

It seems to me that there are so many things that give you cancer, and so many studies and warnings out there of things not to do so you won't get it.

Recently in the news they stated every drink of alcohol increases your chances of getting many forms of cancer https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... ncer-study

Also, very hot beverages may give you throat cancer..but the emphasis on this article was on how tea can give you cancer.
http://bigthink.com/laurie-vazquez/who- ... ed-to-know

The sun can give you cancer and the list goes on and on and on..

Does one live a "all things in moderation" approach to life, but would this not be parallel to a "save 10% of your income" approach to finance.

Should we be doing more to try and avoid cancers at all cost, or allow ourselves to enjoy some potentially cancer causing activities a little or a "moderate" amount? Of course we want to live a good life but what would a 100% cancer avoidance life look like? Maybe it wouldn't be that bad? Or do we just dismiss these "studies" and keep living on whatever our current status quos may be and hope it's good enough to evade cancer.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Development of a Cancer Requires Several Mutations

Conversion of a normal body cell into a malignant one is now known to require multiple mutations. Three different types of experimental approaches all converged on this important conclusion: epidemiology of human cancers, analyses of DNA in cells at several stages in the development of cancers in humans and mice, and overexpression of oncogenes in cultured cells and transgenic animals.
Epidemiology

Each individual cancer is a clone that arises from a single cell. Assuming that the rate of mutation is roughly constant during a lifetime, then the incidence of most types of cancer would be independent of age if only one mutation were required to convert a normal cell into a malignant one. In fact, however, the incidence of most types of human cancers increases markedly and exponentially with age (Figure 24-5). Although many explanations of this phenomenon have been considered, the incidence data are most consistent with the notion that multiple mutations are required for a cancer to form.
Figure 24-5. The incidence of several human cancers increases markedly with age.
Figure 24-5

The incidence of several human cancers increases markedly with age. Note that the logarithm of annual incidence is plotted versus the logarithm of age. [From B. Vogelstein and K. Kinzler, 1993, Trends Genet. 9:101.]

According to this “multi-hit” model, cancers arise by a process of clonal selection not unlike the selection of individual animals in a large population. A mutation in one cell would give it a slight growth advantage. One of the progeny cells would then undergo a second mutation that would allow its descendants to grow more uncontrollably and form a small benign tumor; a third mutation in a cell within this tumor would allow it to outgrow the others, and its progeny would form a mass of cells, each of which would have these three mutations. An additional mutation in one of these cells would allow its progeny to escape into the blood and establish daughter colonies at other sites, the hallmark of metastatic cancer. Since decades are required for these multiple mutations to occur, the exponential increase in cancer incidence with age is predicted by the multi-hit model of cancer induction.
Image

IOW, in rational accordance with the actuarial tables and this information, I intend to start spending my days lying by the side of a pool, covered in coconut oil, downing margaritas, munching on Cheetos, and puffing on a stogie when I hit around 85.
Last edited by 7Wannabe5 on Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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jennypenny
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by jennypenny »

I don't think it's as frightening as it sounds. We used to die from accidents, infections, and infectious diseases. Now we can usually avoid dying from those things long enough to get cancer.

Preventing cancer sounds overwhelming because it's still so cumbersome compared with something like vaccinations. Accident prevention is also a part of daily life -- seat belts, handrails, safety goggles, smoke detectors -- but it's so ubiquitous it goes unnoticed. Same with basic infection prevention from items like soap and bleach.

Once they figure out how to prevent/cure most cancers, we'll figure out how to die from something else. :D

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Ego
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by Ego »

No, not the point of life.

There is a lot we can DO to foster positive future outcomes There is also a lot we can AVOID DOING. And there are things over which we have no control.

With regard to cancer it seems that each new discovery reveals that those things we once believed were beyond our control are actually opportunities to DO or AVOID DOING.

Interestingly, having a "point to life".... or a purpose, is one of the things we can do. Avoiding cancer in and of itself is not a purpose.

Dragline
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by Dragline »

stand@desk wrote:
Should we be doing more to try and avoid cancers at all cost, or allow ourselves to enjoy some potentially cancer causing activities a little or a "moderate" amount? Of course we want to live a good life but what would a 100% cancer avoidance life look like? Maybe it wouldn't be that bad? Or do we just dismiss these "studies" and keep living on whatever our current status quos may be and hope it's good enough to evade cancer.
I don't think its possible to "avoid all cancers", since many are genetic or inherited. But one can easily avoid lots of cancer risks simply by not doing certain things like smoking or baking in the sun without protection if you are light-complected. Most of the studies popularized in the news are both mis-reported and statistically meaningless for most people, because its repeated and/or extreme exposures that matter, not isolated or infrequent ones. Moreover, the statistics are only predictive among large populations -- i.e., for every 10,000 daily smokers, you can predict how many will get lung cancer, but not which ones or when it will happen.

If you are concerned, other than not consuming lots of known carcinogens, it would probably be worth having your DNA analyzed to see if you have any genetic predispositions.

vexed87
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by vexed87 »

Well first you have to understand that we now live much longer than we have historically due to the wonders of modern medicine, antibiotics, surgery, etc. We all have to die eventually. Also, the human body has not evolved to last forever, so if cancer doesn't get us something, else will. We are meant to live long enough to rear our offspring, and if we are lucky enough, also support our grandchildren and then die so that we can make room for the next generations. Parents would rear children as young as possible before something was able to kill them off. So typically a grandparent might be only 30-40 years old or so. This is why the incidence of cancer rockets beyond 30 years of age, and cancers before hand are relatively rare.

Back to the thread title, depending on who you ask, they'll give you all sorts of reasons for the meaning of life, but avoiding cancer seems like a particularly miserable existence if you imply that our sole goal in life is to decrease exposure to anything that is carcinogenic... so with the wonders of academia, lots of research goes into how we can decrease our chances of dying young. The information is there to help you make informed decisions about whether you fancy taking the chance with increasing risk of particular cancers.

That would probably include a long list, including things that are essential to our lives, like food, water, exercise and even the air we breath. Consumption of certain foods or activity will increase your risk, but what you have to understand with cancer, if eating X doubles your risk getting said of cancer but your risk of getting that cancer is less than 1 in 1,000,000 within your lifetime, then eating X means you have increased your risk to 2 in 1,000,000, not particularly worrying.

Being able to understand risk and apply it your your own life is important to using the information correctly. Engaging in particular risky activities mAy well increase your risk of getting a particular cancer, but the knowledge is more helpful if you have family history of particular cancer which is known to be hereditary. If your have a particular genetic mutation which means your chance of getting a breast cancer is 1 in 10,000, and engaging in excessive drinking increases your risk by an order of 100, then you would increase your risk to 1 in 100 chance of getting cancer.

What most of the media do these days, for instance with the recent scares about eating bacon is to forget to put the risk into perspective, so if you want to make informed decisions about your risky activity of choice don't forget to read the actual findings in the publication and apply it to your own situation.

The risk/benefit trade off for never touching a drop of alcohol IMO is not worth it, which is why I still indulge in the occasional beer. But I know not to take it too far because the risk will increase dramatically with regular and/or heavy consumption.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

vexed87 said: So typically a grandparent might be only 30-40 years old or so. This is why the incidence of cancer rockets beyond 30 years of age, and cancers before hand are relatively rare.
The study I posted indicates that this is not how or why it works. People die from cancer when they are older rather than younger because that is how long it takes to draw 3 losing mutations in a fairly constant-over-lifetime lottery. The graphs would look different if the rate of mutation changing with age was the primary driver. The study also indicates that somatic cancers to which everyone is subject are much more prevalent than inherited-tendency cancers. So given that some parts of the human body are known to primarily fail through wear and tear, like the engine on a car, and cancer seems to be a process that is more like 3 independent bulbs on your car burning out, the risk of mortality due to engaging in activities likely to increase rate of cell mutation decreases with age. That's why older men are often not given treatment for prostate cancer. The same rule of thumb applies to prevention. Smoking from the age of 15 to 35 is far more likely to increase your likelihood of dying from lung cancer than choosing to smoke from age 65 to 85. The whole notion that youth gives you the ability to recover from such an injurious activity is false.

BRUTE
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by BRUTE »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... _group.png

cancer is bad, but cardiovascular disease is worse. next are lung infections, diabetes, viral infections, Alzheimers, then car accidents. but humans need gun control ;)

brute would wager that CVD, cancer, type 2 diabetes, many infections and Alzheimers are caused or made worse by lifestyle. specifically diet. type 2 diabetes is clearly caused by a diet heavy in sugar/carbs. current science indicates that CVD, too, is caused by carbs, not by saturated fats (yay bacon).

there are also some studies suggesting that certain types of cancer and Alzheimers can be prevented by a low-carb diet, or are caused by too much glucose over time. Alzheimers has also been called "diabetes of the brain". glucose is like nitrous oxide in the fuel mix. it makes the car go fast, but it causes damage to the engine over time.

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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by jacob »

I predict the imminence of another three page debate of carbs vs fat.

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Ego
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by Ego »

I was gearing up, but then said to myself fuck it let the idiots eat whatever they want.

enigmaT120
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by enigmaT120 »

I try to not eat too much of either one.

...and from the first article Stand@desk posted:

"There is now enough credible evidence to say conclusively that drinking is a direct cause of the disease, according to Jennie Connor, of the preventive and social medicine department at Otago University in New Zealand."

Since the Iraq invasion, "credible evidence" is just a code phrase for "We're lying." Maybe only from the War Pigs, I don't know.

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jennypenny
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by jennypenny »

I'm pretty sure both sides in this particular argument agree that crappy carbs and refined sugar are unhealthy, lead to too much abdominal fat, and poison the brain. And even though they don't really cause cancer, they are dangerously efficient at feeding cancerous growths.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Actually, the largest body of evidence concerns what you should eat rather than what you shouldn't eat. All humans should strive for 5 to 10 servings/day of plant-based foods, particularly those known to be high in phyto-chemicals. IOW, based on current research, choosing to eat the large bowl of black currants is more important than whether or not you choose to throw a bit of cream and/or sugar in the bowl with the currants. Oddly, this is likely true because most plant foods in their natural state are actually somewhat toxic to humans. So, when you squat down in your garden and shove fruit into your mouth with your grubby hands, you are giving yourself the equivalent of a low level dose of chemotherapy, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Anyways, keep an eye on me if you are curious about what effect eating lots and lots of a wide variety of organically grown produce, but also a goodly quantity of meats and treats will have on a person.

El Duderino
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by El Duderino »

I'm hoping that not having sugar will slow down the possibility/onset of cancer. This article, which seems well referenced, seems to support that idea. "I recommend less fruit, more vegetables, and little to no refined sugars in the diet of cancer patients."
BRUTE wrote:Alzheimers has also been called "diabetes of the brain". glucose is like nitrous oxide in the fuel mix. it makes the car go fast, but it causes damage to the engine over time.
Interesting analogy. I've never been a fan of nawws as a power adder either, Brute. Turbo, ftw.

Dragline
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by Dragline »

BRUTE wrote:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... _group.png

cancer is bad, but cardiovascular disease is worse. next are lung infections, diabetes, viral infections, Alzheimers, then car accidents. but humans need gun control ;)
+1

I have found that the best place to find news about what you should worry about killing you is found in mortality tables and recent cdc data. Most of what is publicized news about death concerns extremely rare events that are statistically meaningless for most people (i.e., risks below the probability of being struck by lightning).

But you can also see from the main causes that a lot of the preventative solutions are pretty simple -- like don't smoke, don't be obese and wear a seat belt. I might add avoid unnecessary medical procedures, as iaotregenics (medical error) is becoming a leading cause of death, too.

And avoid base jumping and mountaineering in Nepal. Here's an entertaining graphic on mortality and recreation: http://www.besthealthdegrees.com/health-risks/

The most important thing to understand about mortality is Gompertz's mortality law, which is the basis for calculating life insurance and annuities: No matter what your base probability of death is, it is going to double about every eight years you are alive. By reducing your base rate with simple preventative acts, you thereby increase your probability of living a long time.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by EdithKeeler »

I think that all this "data" (which often changes as we learn more) deludes us sometimes into thinking that we (and others...) have absolute control over this stuff. We can now measure our vitals with great accuracy due to Fitbits, we can monitor every bit of food that goes into our bodies, we think we can quantify the number of calories expended in various activities, we can be religious in our application of sunscreen, etc... but we're still going to die of something. We have the great fortune to be able to live much longer than we used to, and we can control our environment to a degree... but I think all of this "data" out there also has the negative effect that, when someone does get sick, we start to judge--"he has cancer, he did it to himself because he drank too much." And the person making the judgment, of course, has the opportunity to feel superior--until it's their turn in the barrel.

And I think like that, too. I decided the first of this year to take control of my health--I'd neglected going to the doctor for check ups on some stuff, have not been very good about my diet, weigh too much, don't get enough exercise, and I've taken steps to improve those things. And I do feel better. And I look better. It's hard to deny the cause and effect there.

But at the same time, I've also had friends and acquaintances stricken with some horrible things. One person had a perpetual sore throat, was back and forth to several doctors, most of whom poo-pooed her complaints, until she got to the one that diagnosed her with tonsil cancer. (Yeah, tonsil cancer--who knew?) Another friend in her 50's felt great, went in for a routine check up, had weird results on her bloodwork and found out she had multiple myeloma. Chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she's doing well. I always think "Hooray, we live in a time where this stuff can get diagnosed early and treatment can start before it gets too bad." Another friend's 16 year old kid had a weird thing going on with a finger nail. Three doctors said "meh, nail fungus," and it wasn't until it really wasn't getting better that she got referred to a specialist. Melanoma. 16 years old. Amputated 2 fingers and part of her hand.

I live in the same city as St. Jude hospital--you can't see all those horribly sick children and not start thinking that life is random and stupid and realize that we don't have nearly the control over our fates as we'd like to have.

Recent Ted Radio Hour on longevity:
http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/

I think we should try to make smart choices with our health. But I still think we're deluding ourselves to think we have as much control as we'd like to believe. I also think the press sensationalizes results of studies.... I saw something recently that was talking about a drug that increases the life span of people with a certain type of cancer--I think lung cancer. But reading the fine print, it turns out it increases life by about... a month. But the way the reporting was, you'd have thought it was extending lives for 20 years or something.

OK...I'm rambling. I think it's an interesting subject, and it's something I keep up with, especially as I get older. But the bottom line is, the older you get, the more likely you are to get cancer or some other disease. There's only so much we can do, right now anyway, with our current knowledge.

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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by jacob »

Personally, I would also like to fold/integrate the death distribution with a "which way of dying is the worst"-loading.

Stroke? Possibly trapped in your own body for the last two years of your life not being able to communicate or attend to standard bodily functions.
COPD? Playing diver being hooked up to a 100ft oxygen hose for the final 10 years of your life?
Cancer? Being in pain and nauseous for the last 2 months to 20 years of your life?
Diabetes? Injections everytime you eat for the last 30-40 years of your life lest you lose limbs from gangrene or go blind?
Alzheimers? Being increasingly alienated from everything/one you know for the last 5-10 years of your life?
Driving? Being in extreme pain for the last twenty minutes of your life?
Guns? Being in extreme pain for the last twenty seconds to two hours of your life?

And so on ...

Personally I hope to die at age 85 heroically rescuing a cat(*) from a tree---I fall and break my neck but the cat survives. Something like that!

(*) Or even a dumbass Pokemoron Go 3000 player if I have to :evil:

BRUTE
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by BRUTE »

good point - brute is not afraid of death, only of suffering.

brute hates that "look on the bright side" shit, but anecdotally, he knows a stroke victim who still goes to strip clubs and gets around town in his wheelchair. brute has to push him uphill sometimes :-/

Dragline
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by Dragline »

EdithKeeler wrote:I think that all this "data" (which often changes as we learn more) deludes us sometimes into thinking that we (and others...) have absolute control over this stuff. . . .

I think we should try to make smart choices with our health. But I still think we're deluding ourselves to think we have as much control as we'd like to believe.
Exactly. Statistics only are predictive when applied to large populations. When applied to your sample size of one (yourself), the results are uncertain and can be unpredictably random. Some healthy people who "do all the right things" will die of cancer or something else early in life. And some smokers/drinkers will live to 100 and die peacefully in their sleep one day.

This tells you that applying a healthy 80/20 (healthy habit/unhealthy habit) kind of rule of thumb is probably the best strategy for most people, given time, relative enjoyment of unhealthy activities and other constraints. The uncertainty cannot be eliminated by collecting more data or "living even healthier", and it is an illusion to think that it can.

I'm reminded of the late Steve Irwin -- the "Crocodile Hunter". He did a lot of dangerous things with animals, increasing his probability of an early death. Yet the way he actually died -- getting his heart pierced by a stingray he was filming -- was ludicrously improbable and no one would have predicted that filming a stingray was a very dangerous activity at all compared with the other things he did.

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jennypenny
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Re: Is the point of life just to avoid getting cancer?

Post by jennypenny »

I was thinking something similar when I was watching Anton Yelchin in the new Star Trek today. It's important to occasionally evaluate what you're doing health-wise and adjust as needed, but at some point you have to let it go and live your life. Truth be told, if you ever get cancer and survive it for any length of time -- lots of people do -- you might find that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to you. Something like that can be quite liberating.

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