Saturday, January 26, 2013

Newsflash: Honking causes cancer

In The Emperor of all Maladies, author Siddhartha Mukherjee describes a type of cancer as "terrifying to experience, terrifying to observe and terrifying to treat."

Somehow, though, in our efforts to stem the tide of the disease and our dread of it, we can end up making things worse for many people. The shadow of cancer angst is spreading much further than it needs to go.

We're struggling, as a culture, with the consequences of the over- and mis-use of associations from epidemiological data about cancer risks. The imposition of risk awareness has been called a form of cultural imperialism. Cancer awareness-raising continues relentlessly, though - even in cases where a community's problem has become over-estimation of risk, not a lack of awareness.

This week, Jeff Niederdeppe and I will be co-moderating a discussion for science writers and researchers on these issues in the Covering cancer causes, prevention and screening session at Science Online. Come along, or follow/share thoughts and resources at the Scio13 wiki or via Twitter: #Scio13  #SciCancer

Want to increase your skills at picking out the important signals from all the noise? There's a collection of (free) important books and articles at PubMed Health that could help.

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