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The Secret History of the War on Cancer af…

The Secret History of the War on Cancer (udgave 2009)

af Devra Davis

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
1945108,589 (3.88)Ingen
Relates the gripping story of a major public health effort diverted and distorted for private gain.
Titel:The Secret History of the War on Cancer
Forfattere:Devra Davis
Info:Basic Books (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 560 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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The Secret History of the War on Cancer af Devra Davis


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Viser 5 af 5
It was interesting reading this book after having finished The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee recently. Both books are fascinating, in depth, and have completely different looks at cancer. While both books are about a depressing topic - cancer - Mukherjee's book left me feeling upbeat and hopeful while Davis's book left me feeling angry and cheated.

The Secret History of the War on Cancer explains in great detail why cancer is so pervasive and why we are told that treatment will be our savior instead of prevention. By detailing some major cancer cover-ups from tobacco to asbestos to other workplace hazards, Davis makes it clear that industry will do nothing to lose any hint of profitability, even if it means causing cancer in thousands of humans. Since Big Tobacco came up with the genius idea of fomenting doubt to weasel out of admitting that their product was killing people, industry today has adopted the same tactics and insist that without major epidemiological studies, nobody can prove that anything is carcinogenic. Unfortunately, this leaves us humans as a giant science experiment, and sadly, thousands of people will get sick and die as a result.

I was glad this book was written by a scientist, as Davis is clearly aware of the pros and cons of medical research and epidemiological studies. While industry touts large scale epidemiological studies as the only way to prove if certain things lead to cancer, Davis rightly notes that research of this scope is always difficult, especially when possible carcinogens are so pervasive as to leave almost no control groups behind. When you talk about the combined effects of many possible hazards, the research becomes almost impossible. Industry banks on that, because they can use it to say that there is no proof that x, y, or z is harmful to human health.

This book left me wishing I lived on a rational planet where people used the precautionary principle, where human beings aren't used as lab rats in a gigantic experiment so that CEOs can take home multi-million dollar bonuses at our collective expense. ( )
  lemontwist | Jun 19, 2011 |
this book was hard to put down. i was surprised to find that one of the nastiest things in use at our house was a baby shampoo!!

this book made me appreciate how unions have come about--how very basic safety and disclosure of risk rights have had to be fought for.

well worth the time to read. ( )
  aulap | Aug 23, 2009 |
This is a shocking book that everyone should read, explaining why cancer is so prevalent today, and why the American Cancer Society is more concerned with curing cancer than with preventing it in the first place. It documents how chemical companies were able to keep cancer statistics hidden and unpublished, and did nothing to protect the health of their workers. One set of workers had a 90% incidence of bladder cancer if they worked for years with exposure to benzidine.

Other dangers documented include tetraethyl lead in gas, workers in coke ovens, benzene exposure, cigarettes of course, aspartame, cell phone use and brain tumors (Ted Kennedy maybe?), asbestos, toxic waste cover-ups, dioxin in baby shampoos, vinyl chloride in hairspray, polyvinyl chloride, saran wrap, etc etc. Excellent book, with scientific facts which tell their own story. Scary indeed. ( )
1 stem Scrabblenut | May 30, 2008 |
Why is Devra Davis so angy? "The Secret History of the War on Cancer" is Davis's second book detailing her one-person crusade to convince the scientific establishment that cancer is caused by the environment. Like the first ("When Smoke Ran Like Water"), in this new work, Davis leaves a trail of anecdotes intended to be the breadcrumbs that lead us to the conclusion she wants to erect as inevitable. Unfortunately, the bread crumbs are placed too far apart to form a coherent trail. The logical framework that could hold them together is full of holes. Instead, Davis hopes that she can build her case by engendering the reader's moral outrage. This may work for those who already share her opinions. There is no shortage of people who are readily convinced by "evidence" that supports their own views. The skeptical among us need more. Facts and scientific method, for examples.

"The Secret History" reprises many of the arguments Davis has already laid out (as well as reprising her complaints about her career path), offers too little that is new, and ultimately fails to deliver on the promised "secret history." The secret, according to Davis, is that science will not admit that it's the environment that causes cancer. She doesn't seem to care or even acknowledge that perhaps science hasn't "admitted" this because it ain't necessarily so. Over the past 15 years, cancer research has made incredible strides in understanding the biology of cancer at the celluar and molecular levels. It has discovered biological, genetic, and environmental contributors to many forms of cancer, enabling us to intelligently search for treatments. Davis's single-minded attribution of nearly any form of cancer to some known or unknown set of environmental factors is purposefully obstructive, serving to hinder rather than advance understanding.

Throughout this book, Davis presents herself as an angry person, struggling to right some perceived injustices. Some of this is no doubt driven by the understandable grief that comes when friends and loved ones are attacked by a devastating disease. Less understandable is her need to continually work over the slights she feels she has suffered professionally. Her abandonment of the cool logic of science for the emotional and rhetorical heat we see in "The Secret History" may be a strong clue as to just why her career has taken this turn.

Davis presents herself as a crusader. Like many crusaders—Deborah Peel on patient privacy is another example—she is so emotionally attached to her conclusions that she fails to build any solid premises for them. She seems to believe, as other crusaders do, that the conclusion is completely self-evident if only others had eyes to see. What she fails to realize is that what seems obvious to her isn't so obvious to those who do not share her particular confirmation bias.

Devra Davis seems like an intelligent person and one who has certainly witnessed much as an insider to big science. But readers who expect her to dish from her behind-the-scenes perspective will be disappointed here. If you want to know the juicy details of how big money, politics, and strange scientific bedfellows influenced the nation's second-biggest war, you will have to wait. ( )
  mariancontrarian | Apr 15, 2008 |
Well-written, compelling, scary as hell. How money dictates society's priorities. Great case histories, good level of detail. ( )
  keferunk | Dec 1, 2007 |
Viser 5 af 5
Nonetheless, for a well-documented, prosecutorial account of the dark side of cancer-control politics, Davis's work — lopsided and verbose as it is — merits attention. Younger readers, particularly, may be unaware of the corporate and political machinations that kept carcinogenic pollutants uncontrolled long after their dangers were understood.
tilføjet af jlelliott | RedigerNature, Daniel Greenberg (pay site) (Nov 10, 2007)
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Relates the gripping story of a major public health effort diverted and distorted for private gain.

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