A-Z of Blogging: U is for Unlucky #AtoZChallenge


26 posts. 26 days. 26 letters of the alphabet, one blog post beginning with each letter.

U is for Unlucky

In my recent article, Words Matter: Why Cancer Isn’t a Game of Winners or Losers, I wrote about how the “fighting” or “battling” metaphor takes no account of the sheer randomness of the disease.

I referred in the article to a 2015 study which concluded that two-thirds of the variation in adult cancer risk across tissues can be explained primarily by “bad luck.”  In other words, a major contributing factor to cancer is in fact beyond anyone’s control. By this reasoning, no amount of fighting or battling cancer can affect its outcome.

Commenting on the study, the researchers said, “Many people have found relief in this research. Cancer has a long history of stigmatization. Patients and family members frequently blame themselves, believing there was something they could have done to prevent their or their family member’s cancer. We have heard from many of these families and are pleased that our analysis could bring comfort and even lift the burden of guilt in those who have suffered the physical and emotional consequences of cancer.”

The study led to quite a lot of criticism among scientists who argued against the study, citing the role of prevention. Whether a few malignant cells form a dangerous tumor depends on, among other things, levels of inflammation, insulin, and obesity. You can read more on this here https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/most-cancer-cases-arise-from-bad-luck

I’m curious to know your thoughts on this. Is cancer just a case of bad luck or can we prevent it as some scientists argue? And by extension, if we can prevent it, why can’t we cure it?  Would love to know what you think – please share your thoughts in the comments below.