Chances are the Relay for Life, under way today and tomorrow, will raise $100,000 or more for the fight against cancer, a fight that is a wonderful thing. That money will go to the American Cancer Society, which in turn will use it to fund research and help cancer patients who undergo treatment.
Some people wonder why the big thinkers haven’t found a cure for cancer by now, but the answer is that cures — or preventions — indeed have been found in many cases.
For example, all you have to do is not smoke to greatly lower your chances of developing cancer of the lungs. That might seem simple, but it took many years not only to do the research that bore out observations that smokers were more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers were, but to fight against the tobacco company propaganda which pooh-poohed it.
In spite of what people know about how smoking causes lung cancer, many still smoke cigarettes. I had a cousin who was a very smart man, but he chose to smoke filtered Camels. He contracted cancer of the lungs. Still he smoked. Now he is no longer with us.
Evidence that cigarette smoking causes cancer first was noticed before the turn of the 20th century. But it took decades of more research and lobbying, funded by the American Cancer Society, before much was done about it.
The American Cancer Society also has paid for research into the causes of skin cancer — an entirely different disease from lung cancer. Researchers found years ago that skin cancer can be caused by overexposure to the sun. Yet people still go out of their way to get tans.
Some cancers have no apparent external cause — they just develop. The cancer society helps look into those puzzling diseases, too.
The cancer society will fund examination of claims of cures enabled by eating or drinking special foods.
The folks at the Relay for Life are doing a lot for many people. They deserve our great appreciation.