Ebola. It’s the deadly disease that has infected over 13,000 people world-wide as of this writing. 5,000 of those individuals have since died. Although estimates vary wildly, approximately 60 percent of individuals diagnosed with Ebola will ultimately die. Ebola has dominated the media headlines as authorities desperately attempt to contain the virus from spreading. According to a recent article, these efforts have even gone as far as prohibiting Ebola researchers who have visited West Africa from attending an infectious disease conference in Louisiana.
The truth of the matter is that many more people will die this year from AIDS (1.6 million), diarrheal dieases (1.5 million), flu (284 thousand), and measles (122 thousand) than Ebola. What is even more disturbing is that far more people will die from cancer (7 million) than all of the aforementioned diseases combined. Fifteen hundred men, women, and children die from cancer every day in the United States alone.
Although many people are panicking about “catching” Ebola, the odds of contracting the virus are actually extremely low for people in developed countries. Since Ebola is not an airborne virus, it can only spread by direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids. One of the disturbing truths about Ebola and cancer is that there’s a high probability that you will get cancer; approximately 40% of people develop it during their lifetime.
If there’s virtually zero chance that someone will get Ebola, and a high chance of they will have cancer during their lifetime, how can we explain the panic and hysteria in the media about Ebola, and the unsettling silence about cancer? Researchers and clinicians believe that they can stop Ebola; if they are quick enough, if they quarantine the people that have it, thereby preventing it from spreading to others.
On the other hand,the truth is that there seems to be an acceptance that cancer is, and will continue to be, a sad part of our lives; that it can’t be stopped, that it can’t be prevented, that there is nothing that can be done other than treating it with toxic pharmaceuticals and radiation. The prevailing belief is that researchers and oncologists are doing the best they can in the face of an enemy that is difficult, if not impossible, to defeat. We can corral people, but corraling cells is an entirely different matter.
Even though the odds seem overwhelming, Katherine and I firmly believe that there are things that one can do to help reduce the probability of getting cancer in the first place, and we also believe that there are encouraging developments in the field of integrative oncology to help treat cancer once it develops. In short, there is hope, there is a light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel.