Facebook Fallacy #2 — Cancer

Nobody likes cancer. Everybody wants to make sure they don’t get it. Fair enough.

Some people have ideas about what they think will prevent cancer, but as they are not a “known” or “respected” source, they feel the need to “legitimize” their claim by attaching the name of some well-known Expert or Institution. 

Thus, FF #2: How to Avoid Cancer!

I don’t know anything about the blog it was posted on (and I’m not trying to say “this blog posts crap”…just providing the link I was given), it is simply that a friend of mine posted a link to it on FB as part of a cancer awareness thing. I noticed that even though it was claiming the name of Johns Hopkins, there was no link to the research. 

That made me Skeptical (imagine that…).

So, I Googled. Johns Hopkins is aware of the claims being made and largely disagrees with them. 

The gist of it all is that cancer is caused by bad diet–eat the right foods (no sugar, no meat, no coffee, etc) and you won’t get cancer. Yay vegan diet to the rescue! But Johns Hopkins says that, while a balanced diet high in fruit and veg, low in meat, plenty of exercise, etc, are important and can reduce the risk of cancer (esp. by avoiding Obesity), the claims being touted under the name Johns Hopkins are not their claims.

Furthermore, there are several Falsehoods. The blog post (it was originally an email, apparently, as the JH site says “this email hoax”) says “surgery will spread the cancer and chemo will kill your immune system”, but JH says those things are not true. 

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2 responses to “Facebook Fallacy #2 — Cancer”

  1. Douglas Becker says :

    You know, it may be just me but it might be possible that the risk of lung cancer might be much lower if you stop smoking cigarettes. Just a thought.

    There is some research which indicates that some cancer may be the result of viral activity. Oh, you know, like from HIV.

    Some cancers may be the result of what a person breathes, as in severe air pollution, let’s say from China if you happen to live in San Francisco.

    Simplistic solutions based on opinions and made up reasonings not supported by objective facts, especially those based on scientific research and measurements suggest a certain amount of skepticism might be in order. People often seem to want to develop some rituals (such as what they eat) to support their superstitions.

    I would suspect that after death, the incidence of developing cancer may be reduced significantly, but I know of no research to support the allocation, perhaps because it is functionally rendered a rather moot point, but might present interesting data nevertheless.

    Could it be that the word “superstition” could be substituted for “fallacy”: It may be a better explanation for people’s explanations.

  2. eSell says :

    Could it be that the word “superstition” could be substituted for “fallacy”: It may be a better explanation for people’s explanations.

    haha…probably. I tend to think there is a lot of Wish Thinking involved. Yes, JH says that healthy living (i.e. lots of fruit and veg, low amounts of red meat, no smoking, plenty of exercise, etc) can reduce the risk of cancer by 1/3. Not being obese (and not smoking) are big helps. And we should all strive more for that level of healthful living!

    But that only goes so far. You can’t prevent all cancer by being a Health Nut. But people are afraid, so they make up “superstitions”, as you say, and take comfort in them.

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