[Marxism] Cancer and capitalism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 19 10:32:00 MDT 2004

Ken Ranney wrote:
> I am attempting to show that most cancer is due to capitalism.  There 
> has been a steady increase in the rate of cancer during the 20th 
> century, inferring that if we go back in time there was much less 
> cancer.  However, data are not available (to me) regarding mortality 
> from cancer prior to 1900.  I am wondering if members of this group know 
> of sources for such data.

I strongly recommend Robert N. Proctor's "Cancer Wars: How politics 
shapes what we know and don't know about cancer." In 1987 I worked as a 
Database adminstrator at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. I quite after 
becoming disillusioned with the hospital's decision to purchase package 
that did billing extremely well, but a so-so job on demographics. The 
hospital had a big problem with "Uncle Fred" going into the hospital and 
coming out looking much worse than when he went in. (That's what 
happened with Hubert Humphrey, for example.) It seems that the cure 
(surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc.) was as bad as the 
disease. Pissed-off relatives would often decide not to pay the hospital 
under such circumstances, so the hospital needed heavy-duty software to 
dun them. Typical capitalist behavior. That's how I got interested in 
the politics of cancer myself.

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