In the wake of the recent controversial statement by a political leader about the causes of cancer, a line from the pathology book from my MBBS days flashed before my eyes. It said: the best way to avoid cancer is to not take birth.
Indeed, we have examples where foetuses with lethal genetic damage get aborted naturally in-utero. Many inherited genetic changes express themselves as myriad manifestations of so many diseases, cancer being one of them.
So the discourse is, what exactly causes cancer? It’s proven that all lethal factors converge upon genes with the end result being cancer, facilitated by functional and structural changes in our genetic make-up. To say that it’s the effect of sins is to curse our genes.
I would rather say that the greediness of the human race is the strongest factor if you analyse it metaphysically. We are turning this beautiful earth and our environment into a reservoir of toxic concoctions. It’s not surprising that the role of most of the substances in tumorigenesis is yet to be unravelled which can be attributed to the fast industrialisation process post World War II.
The lifetime of an individual is not enough to ascertain the cumulative effect of toxic substances on the genetic make-up of the human gene pool. Cigarette smoking is a paradigm of such substances. People would never have pioneered cigarette smoking had they known the deleterious effect of smoking at the start.
Modern science has started to look into inflammatory lifestyles and inflammatory foods as causative agents for cancer, though this causation is yet to be proved in scientific literature statistically. Blaming a person or a patient for his wrongdoings as a cause of cancer is one of the most irresponsible things that a politician can do in our country. A patient does not look up to a leader for “Pravachan” as a panacea to his disease. Imagine a doctor talking to a patient in this way! He may be beaten black and blue.
Cancer is a genetic disease. The causes for the change of genetic make-up are many. What we can do to prevent such diseases is to determine the effect of suspected substances scientifically, and not theologically. That’s what is called a scientific temper. Let’s be sane.