Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Thoughts again

I was reading a blog entry and then read the reader comments at the bottom. The last one, by ThermoGuy caught my attention. An excerpt: "Babies are toxic before their first breath and it predisposes them to cancers as well as health challenges. Who should speak for them and what species kills their own babies for money?".

I often wonder about things like this - are we really experiencing more cancers now? Or is it that they have been there all along but in the past, we did not have the ability or technology or knowledge to know about certain cancers? How can we be sure numbers are increasing, or that perhaps cancers are a 'new' thing to humans and caused by us and by how we live (as per the above comment) when we have no way of knowing how the majority of people died in the past thousands of years? In times when life expectancy was half  (or worse) than it is today, it wasn't exactly top of their list to find out exactly what killed someone. Or perhaps some contracted a disease and should have survived, but did not - and no one really knows why they REALLY died. Was their health compromised by yet another disorder, perhaps cancer, that was undetected? How can we possibly know if people who lived several hundred or thousands of years ago had tumors or blood cancers, or not?

And if there is a genetic component to many cancers, when did it first arrive in the family line and get itself passed down through the generations? Did they just suddenly appear in our grandparents or great grandparents and then add themselves to DNA? I know large families who do  not have a single cancer link to anyone in their family, that they know of to date, going back through 4-5 generations, but then I know families who have been devastated by repeated cancers through several members of each generation - yet they all grew up in the same small towns and/or regions and ate the same food, went to the same school, held the same jobs (example, farming/ranching). So are those cancers blamed on toxins or is something else going on? How can we possibly know for sure?

I certainly hope we can zero in on the causes and find better treatments for all cancer, it is truly devastating to so many families around the world. I know a grandfather, his daughter, and HER daughter who have now all dealt with cancer in the past decade while everyone else in the family waits to see if it will hit them too - looking at their young children and wondering which one of them could be next, and I cannot imagine the pain. But is it going to get us anywhere to suggest that it's a new thing caused by man and it's emissions, oil, pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives, etc IF it existed also before humans started using those things?

I have read anthropology reports in the past that suggested particular bone cancer evidence was present - in multi-thousand year old skeletons. But the bone marrow was long gone for more acute diagnosis. But the suggestion and suspicion is there. I have read old anatomy papers from several hundred years ago where unexplained large growths were documented in their corpse subjects. Old family record books where there was no cause of death noted other than 'went to sleep', or 'emaciation increasing over 4-6 months, then death'. How do we know how those people died? How do we know what the death rates were in reference to cancer when we did not have blood testing, xrays, MRIs, ultrasound, labs, screening processes, etc?

It makes me think of something somewhat-related that I posted about on another blog recently - About a decade ago, someone decided that because there was a high incidence of peanut allergies, people should not give their children peanut butter (or peanuts in any form) until age 2 or 3 because they believed this was related to the high number of allergies. Soon it became a rule in many daycares, preschools, etc that peanut butter was not to be served to toddlers or babies. Okay... well last fall we attended a professional development course for work, put on by provincial nurses and nutritionists and guess what? The 'no peanut butter under 3' rule of thumb has been lifted. There was no link found between 'early' introduction of this food and resulting allerigies. Now they only suggest not to serve it until a later age if there is Family History of that allergy. gee, ya think? When I was a kid, 37 years ago, it was a staple food - a little bit of peanut smeared on toast and fed to infants, let alone toddlers. Yet I never knew a single solitary peanut allergy person while I was a child. I dont recall knowing of any as a teen either. I dont recall knowing any when I first worked in preschools  and elementary schools 17-18 years ago. So if it was really due in part to early introduction of the food, I should have surely known at least ONE. But nope... but i was thought to be insensitive or clueless when I talked about my thoughts a decade ago. All I was trying to put out there was that peanuts were not a new food, and I only know one person who has ever said they had a friend 20+ years ago who was allergic to nuts. I know a couple of Celiacs, and the odd one here and there who got hives from eating cherries or even milk products. I know a few shellfish allergies (one did not develop until she was 16 even though she was practically raised eating all forms of fish and shellfish), but peanut allergies were not the norm.

Now we have entire schools who do not allow any peanuts on their premisis (my daughter's for example), and had rules in childcare centers not to serve the product at all (we did not have that rule but it was 'encouraged') and some very very severe allergies. Why? There has got to be a reason, but blaming it on early introduction of the food when numbers back in the day were a LOT LOT lower seems to be a bit silly in my opinion. It seemed there was more evidence to suggest it was NOT from that than evidence suggesting it was, but who am I eh? Im not a scientist so my thoughts don't matter.

Back to toxins in children before they are even born being blamed for cancer, it's a harder trail to follow... I know of people who had cancer in the early 1920s and survived to old age, but it's hard to know beyond that. Can we be sure it's a new thing while we are also growing with new technology all the time that can detect so many different forms, but was not available even 40 years ago? My grandmother had a blood cancer - if she had grown up only 100 years ago, how would they have known an invisible (to the eye) blood cancer was to blame for her weight loss and death? As it happens, she lived with the cancer for over 15 years and passed away from a stroke. But she had cancer - how do we know others in the past did not have the same thing? It's frustrating to read comments like that and know that person is one of many who claim the same thing. And it appears in a global warming post, peddling his own blog I would imagine, where again we have humans being blamed for things that we have some records of happening long before humans came up with any of these 'new' findings.

2 comments:

  1. Look for the fossilized dinosaur bone with cancer next time you are at the Tyrell. Cancer is the machinery of genetics gone haywire. We all have cancerous cells right now but they are recognized and destroyed. Cancer cells that are not singled out as aberations grow uncontrollably and this is what we think of as the disease cancer. All animals get cancer and they have always gotten cancer.

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  2. Thanks Alex. The deep dark recesses of my brain seem to recall hearing about that. One of these eons I'm going to take the kids to the museum. It's only a couple hours away... just waiting for the younest one to be old enough to remember all he learns about ice ages and heating/cooling periods multi thousands of years ago.

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