Should we set a deadline on finding a cure for breast cancer?

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ICAMCancerCenter (Complementary Care Expert (Verified) ) - 04 / 26 / 2011

With sincere respect, the question asked here cannot be answered. All cancer conditions have their own unique set of circumstances, therefore 'finding a cure for breast cancer' does not make sense in this context of a question.

A viable, life enhancing treatment that can address the many different types of breast cancer would be more reasonable to suggest - but to seriously consider putting a time frame on 'finding a cure' is simply non-sensical.

Then again, I often wonder why we, as a society, have placed so much emphasis on this all elusive word 'CURE'. If a 'cure' for the common cold has not yet been released to the public, why would we assume that a 'cure' for any cancer condition be released? And the same for many other conditions such as ALS, MS, Diabetes, Alzheimers .. and the list goes on.

The question raised here draws far too large a picture; too many variables which lead to even more questions rather than any sensible answer. Perhaps you can re-phrase your question so as to be more concise in your exact intention for an answer? What were you thinking when you wrote that question? I'm curious.

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DebbieWoodbury (Survivor (2 - 5 years)) - 04 / 25 / 2011

Fran Visco, National Breast Cancer Coalition president, has an interesting blog post on this very subject. I'm with her. It's all well and good to talk about awareness, early detection and treatment. We'll be talking about these issues forever, however, if we don't spend time and research dollars on prevention. A deadline is a call to action, a commitment to get it done. The more seriously we take the commitment, the more likely it will be accomplished. Yes, the causes are complex, but it's only by making finding a cure a prioity that we'll make it happen.

member8553 (Family member) - 04 / 27 / 2011

member9039's post really got me thinking. If there's all-pervasive toxicity around and even within us, how do we fight cancer, be it of the breast, the liver, or any other variety? Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting a return to pre-industrial conditions. Idealizing the Middle Ages is cute, but you and I know that life then was miserable, even for the privileged. There's no turning back from technological progress, and that includes plastics and petrochemicals (which, incidentally, I used to write about).

What if there was a campaign to eradicate as many toxics from daily life as possible while at the same time maintaining--even heightening--our standard of living? It could be a space program for the body. It sounds like having your cake and eating it too, but that spirit of not settling, of wanting better, brighter, and yes, healthier things drives progress.

Well, that and the will for profits. I'm surprised that no one answered my question of whether we should turn more to big business for cancer research ( I didn't pose it as a loaded question. I was genuinely curious what people thought. "We brought about more money for breast cancer research than any other organization -- more than $2.5 billion -- through our advocacy that created and maintained the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program," Fran Visco writes in her Huffington Post piece. What if instead the NBCC had turned to private enterprise and persuaded it breast-cancer prevention would yield untold riches?

Incidentally, Elizabeth Wohl recently corrected me on the NBCC's mission: It's to end breast cancer, not cure it.

member9723 (High Risk Individual) - 05 / 18 / 2011

In my mind, "the cure" is not prevention. If we effectively prevent cancer, we don't need the cure. If we were serious about preventing cancer, making integrity, health and planetary health the priorities that guided our consumer and lifestyle decisions, then we might not be swimming in carcinogens, and there might be a whole lot less cancer out there to cure.

I also don't consider healthier alternatives as "turning back" from and find "progress" to be a very subjective term. So long as clinging to our technological conveniences is priority and reconsidering or abandoning them is viewed as regressive, our Planet's existence (as our's) is definitely in question. I guess we'll just focus on growing new body parts in test tubes then to replace the one's destroyed by cancer. Hopefully they grow our parts in the right types of plastic tubes.

I'd be curious to hear more about how breast cancer prevention could yield profits. I know breast cancer is hugely profitable. Is it that prevention needs to compete with disease and death in the marketplace? Sad thoughts...

LaurieA (Survivor (2 - 5 years)) - 04 / 25 / 2011

I'd love to read more feedback on this topic. How can there be a deadline for a cure when the causes are so complex? Our environment and foods are increasingly toxic, resulting in exponential cellular changes with every generation, and there are a multitude of factors in all those areas that are yet to be measured.

We've thrown more money at cancer research than any other cause. The treatments may be more effective, testing is more accurate, detection is earlier, but there is so much we don't know about who is susceptible and why.

The NBCC is a noble cause, and I'd love to see it happen. This planet is in serious trouble, and I cannot begin to conceive of how we can clean it up and stop the damage it is doing to our species. Perhaps the pressure of a "deadline" will bring to the forefront the urgency to stop producing all this toxicity.

As far back as 1987, researchers had discovered a substance in human cells that inhibited the growth of human breast cancer. But after several successful experiments, they were baffled when estrogen-sensitive cancer cells were proliferating in all the test units, and there was no stopping it. Even under the tightest controls, even the samples that had not been exposed to estrogen were producing cancer cells, and the scientists were stumped – and terrified of the implications.

They repeated the experiments multiple times over the next several months. Every step of the process was scrutinized, no mistakes were made, yet the cancer cells appeared, with or without estrogen, and regardless of the inhibitor.

Frustrated, yet convinced there had been no sabotage or contamination in the lab, the mystery took a new twist when they used test tubes from a different manufacturer – and the estrogen inhibitor worked. Upon further investigation, they learned that the manufacturer of the original test tubes had changed an ingredient in the plastics at the same time the experiments had gone awry.

Once the substance was isolated, it became evident that exposure to this plastic ingredient – in a group called alklphenols - caused the cancer cells to exhibit an estrogen-like response in human breast tissue cells. This response was the rapid, uncontrolled growth of the cancer cells.

Even on the healthiest diet, we are constantly exposed to toxins in our environment. The alklyphols, including PVC, are from plastics that were used for everything from bottling water and food packaging to plumbing. These same toxins are also produced during the breakdown of chemicals used in pesticides, industrial detergents and personal care products.

Although these compounds now banned in several countries, they had been in widespread use since 1940. As of 1990, it was estimated that 600 million pounds were used annually around the world. These do not disappear. The fetus absorbs them from the mother, and starts life with a little body that has to fight off all this junk. I don't mean to sound fatalistic; I agree that a lot of noise has to be made to bring this to a halt so the effort is not spent on fighting an uphill battle.
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