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Article that Rich posted in "NEWS" forum


KatieB

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I was recently made aware of and ad by the Lung Cancer Alliance (formally known as ALCASE) in the Wall Street Journal. While my personal reaction to the ad was "YES!", I just noticed this artice that Rich posted in the LC in the NEWS Forum and wanted to pull it over here for everyone to read. (I also included two opposing replies to the article as well)

I think this reporter "misses" the point here altogether.....of course in a perfect world we would want funding for LC because it is deserved, because LC is the #1 cancer killer, because we are so much under-funded than other types of cancers- period...........but the smoking stigma is real-----pointing out that NON-SMOKERS get LC too is a way for LC advocacy groups to get people to LISTEN.

Just my two cents, what are yours?

Misleading Advertisement about Lung Cancer

By Rivka Weiser

A prominently placed advertisement by the Lung Cancer Alliance in yesterday's New York Times conveys the important message that lung cancer, which kills more people than many other forms of cancer combined, is worthy of more attention and research than it currently receives. Unfortunately, however, the well-intentioned advertisement is also misleading and has disturbing implications.

The ad features a photograph of a lung cancer patient who has never smoked ("This lung cancer patient can't stop smoking. Because she never started."), and states, "There's no question that millions of lung cancer patients have died because of smoking. But it's also true that over 50 percent of people now being diagnosed with lung cancer are non-smokers or former smokers." However, it is extremely misleading to lump the two groups together by saying that "over 50 percent" of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in non-smokers and former smokers. In fact, since approximately 90% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking, the majority of those in this "over 50 percent" group are former smokers, as opposed to non-smokers. Further, using the word "but" at the beginning of the second sentence implies that lung cancer diagnosed in former smokers is not actually also due to smoking, ignoring the fact that an elevated lung cancer risk lingers in former smokers long after they quit smoking.

The ad continues: "In spite of this, the stigma of smoking is still so great that lung cancer is underfunded, under-researched, and generally ignored by Congress." It then discusses the toll of lung cancer, and concludes, "It's time to treat lung cancer research with the same urgency that we bring to every other major cancer. Because the most lethal cancer in the country can no longer be hidden behind a smoke screen."

It is odd that the advertisement focuses on the lung cancer cases supposedly unrelated to smoking as the reason that lung cancer should receive further attention and research. Even if all cases of lung cancer were due to smoking, would that make the disease and the more than 160,000 deaths it causes annually in America not as worthy of further attention, research, and resources devoted to its prevention and treatment? The line of reasoning in the ad seems to reinforce the unfortunate stigma on smokers who develop lung cancer as being solely personally responsible for their own demise, their fates somehow less worthy of attention than those of non-smokers or those who were able to overcome their addiction to tobacco.

While lung cancer in non-smokers is disturbing and worthy of more research, it is not the primary reason for the urgency for devoting more attention and resources towards preventing and treating lung cancer. The fact that lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in America, and that we know which one specific behavior causes the large majority of its cases, should be enough of an impetus for us to focus more on lung cancer as the urgent public health issue that it is.

Rivka Weiser is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health.

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Visitor Responses

The fact that smokers' and former smokers' lung cancer fates are self-inflicted, and the implication by some that "their fates somehow less worthy of attention" is an ethical debate that has several avenues of thought feeding into it, and those seemingly independent avenues are actually deeply intertwined. (1) Is it just, in a day when the hazards of smoking have been known for decades, to steal money from the wise by way of escalating health insurance costs in order to pay for the choices of the foolish? (2) In spite of our good intentions, when will we acknowledge that we possess the medical and technological skills to create therapies and devices that are more expensive than we can afford to give to all who need them, that thusly a covert rationing of health care is already taking place, and that it would be more just to ration health care overtly even if it compels us to logically force-rank which medical needs will be met and which ones won't? (3) Has not the outwardly morally-neutral choice to smoke with its risk of lung cancer come to ride on the coat-tails of the immoral choice to have sex outside of marriage with its risk of AIDS? Is not our making massive expenditures for cures for both AIDS and lung cancer driven more by our base desire to disconnect logical consequences from our choices rather than some noble compassion to reduce suffering?

LGK (May 11, 2005)

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Your critique of the ad misses the point entirely. Of course we SHOULD prioritize research on lung cancer merely because it kills so many people and is truly a scourge, regardless of whether some of the cases are "self-inflicted". But the reality is that many people believe that lung cancer should not be as much of a priority as other cancers because many victims smoke or have smoked, and have the attitude that victims only have themselves to blame. Pointing out that many cases occur in patients who NEVER smoked is useful because it raises awareness of this fact among those who might otherwise be inclined not to support lung cancer research, and increases the likelihood that more resources will be directed towards finding better therapies. Lung cancer is currently one of the least treatable cancers, probably in part because of the prejudice this ad seeks to correct.

Dr. Peter Glickman (May 11, 2005)

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I will visit this issue when I return from my medical appointment this evening.

I do want to make a single point. I would have had more respect for LGK had he identified himself as the author of his opinion by using his full name. He has used his name when writing his opinions on other topics. I think the fact that he didn't do so in this instance speaks volumes.

I plan to learn more about Mr. Lance G. Kaczorowski's mindset, based upon his writings, before I say anything else.

I'm taking to heart my Mother's advice: Always consider the source.

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It's a good thing LGK isn't sitting here across from me...because s/he would - at the least - be wearing my bottle of water on her/his head!!!!!!!!! I've got steam coming out of my ears.

On the basis of LGK's justification for NOT thinking smokers/former smokers deserve health care for lung cancer because it's "self-inflicted"....I'd be curious to know - first of all - oh....lets' say, How much does LGK weigh? How often does s/he eat fast food? Exercise? Using the self-inflicted theory then...if LGK were overweight and were to have a heart attack or end up with diabetes....we should just deny health care since the heart attack was "self-inflicted" by poor dietary/exercise habits....eh? :? We should only treat those with heart attacks who are at their ideal weight??? Yeah, right!

Dammit, why do people have to be so holier than thou? We all have our vices. Not all of them, however, are addictive because manufacturers figured out that certain additives would KEEP us hooked!

You know...it's people like LGK who spout this sort of crap...and then go home and kick the cat, cheat on their spouses AND their income taxes....and take every opportunity to write an editorial or spout their poison (without any compassion) and STILL NOT HAVE THE COURAGE TO SIGN THEIR FRIGGIN' NAME!!

Jeez....this ruined my afternoon. :evil: Well, not really. I've got cancer. I've got bigger fish to fry than some jerk like LGK.

Oy, though....people who think like LGK thinks blow my mind. So small....so lacking in compassion or understanding. You just have to wonder what they'd have to say when one of THEIR relatives gets lung cancer...huh?

Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited to say...FAY...you pistol you!! Thanks for posting the jerk's name!!

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