Dr Valerie Beral // A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer


I’m Valerie Beral I’m professor of
Epidemiology, University of Oxford. I’m a cancer epidemiologist which means I
study the causes of cancer why people in the population get cancer. It’s a interesting question. It’s a term that I think
Richard Nixon first came up with when there was a discovery that
some cancers were caused by infectious agents by viruses and there
was an idea that may be lots of cancers were caused by viruses and Nixon put a
lot of money in and he called it the war on cancer and this is 40 years ago To pacifists who have cancer I guess
you’d say just say you know a lot of the treatments that have been developed over
the last few decades work very well and don’t resist them but on the other hand
don’t imagine that you’re fighting this war yourself it’s not really a
personal war at all and that idea I think is quite misleading. I think probably the worst thing that I
hear quite often is that a breakthrough for the treatment of prevention of
cancer is around the corner. It isn’t, we’ve made a lot of progress with cancer with
cancer treatment of cancer prevention but it’s all been incremental, lots of
small advances on balance have made quite big impacts – particularly for
breast cancer. So it’s been small breakthroughs, small changes that have
been very powerful in their effects but there’s been no huge breakthrough and
there isn’t likely to be a big huge breakthrough. The common myth about cancer I think is
people feel that’s something that they’ve done and particularly if
something’s something’s happened in the last few years that have been very
stressful, is to is to attribute that to to the cause of cancer and we really
know quite a lot that stress doesn’t cause cancer and what’s happened to you
in the last few years isn’t in effect. I think that’s a misconception
that’s very widespread that it’s something wrong that you’ve done
or often also that something that someone else has done that there’s
something in the environment you can’t see that’s causing cancer,
that’s not true either.