Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We’re losing the war with cancer (Book Review – Part I)




The graph and title say it all “New Cancer cases have risen three times faster than the U.S. population.”

That’s the focus of an important new book from Clifton Leaf entitled The Truth in Small Does: Why: We’re Losing the War on Cancer – and How to Win it - http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Small-Doses-Losing-Cancer-/dp/1476739986/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374599695&sr=1-1&keywords=clifton+leaf+the+truth+in+small+doses

Often the books I read and review are quite different.  They usually have something to do with brain issues and, inevitably, they’re sad, informative, instructive, frightful, memoir-ish, educational, mordant and/or sardonic.

The Truth in Small Doses has a dose of all of that. More importantly, though, the book puts a lie to the myth that we’re winning the war against cancer.

We’re not.

Leaf dives deeply into “Why”, “How did we get here?” and “How to fix the fight against cancer that is paralyzed by a dysfunctional cancer culture.”

Consumed with our inability to make progress in conquering cancer, he's spent years of his life researching this issue with a journalist’s investigative eye. In that quest he’s “…served as a (research) grant reviewer, and on various advisory boards and committees, not as a reporter, but rather as a participant, panelist, or member.” Impressively, his references, citations, notes, and the like start on page 311 and winds up on page 480*. Net, He’s done his homework…and then some.

As I read it, I’m on page 206, I also need to tell you that it’s a dense book. While there are a number of absorbing and well-told personal stories, there’s also a lot of science. At times I want to retake high school biology and chemistry so I can understand what he’s writing. Given the complexity of the complexity of the issues involved, it’s not surprising that it’ dense. In many ways the depth and complexity is reassuring.

In case you can't read the sources for the eye-opening graph at the top of this article, the following are listed: Cancer Statistics, A Cancer/J Clin, for years 1971 - 2012; U.S. Census Bureau. Spike in incidence in Mid-199s largely reflects a surge in new prostate cancer diagnoses after the advent of PSA screening later adjustments in methodology corrected for this apparent anomaly.

Lastly, you should know that it is my intention is to write a “Part II” review after I finish reading pages 206 through 310.

*This assumes that you’re reading the hard cover edition and aren’t reading it on your Kindle in bed while your significant other sleeps.

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