Has The Cure For Cancer Been Suppressed?

Cancer is one of the world’s biggest killers, with 76 million people dying from it last year alone

As populations in the ‘developed world’ continue to age, the risk of catching cancer in our lifetime is increasing from a 1 in 3 chance, to an estimated 1 in 2 chance by 2020 Despite hundreds of billions of dollars having been spent on the ‘war on cancer’, since 1950 the death rate for cancer has dropped only 5 percent, while the death rate for heart disease has dropped 64% in that time With even the World Health Organization raising questions over the ""inherent conflict"" between drug company’s ambition to make profit and their moral obligation to provide medical needs to the wider public, many have been led to question: has the cure for cancer been suppressed? The pharmaceutical industry generates higher profit margins than any other industry, with the ten biggest companies making more than $1 billion in sales a year Conspiracy theorists argue that research is covered up and many potential cures are ignored and discredited because there is more money in perpetuating cancer than in curing it In 2011 articles circulated the internet claiming: ‘Canadian researchers find a simple cure for cancer, but major pharmaceutical companies are not interested’

The articles were based on a 2007 study conducted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, which found that the basic drug dichloroacetate (DCA) could shrink tumors in rats infected with human cancer Furthermore the drug was tested on human cells cultured outside the body and was shown to kill cancer cells, without killing healthy cells Soon after the study was published by New Scientist, websites popped up selling DCA as a treatment for cancer, but were swiftly made illegal by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even though the drug has long been used legally to treat the rare mitochondrial disease with few side-effects This swift crack down on the once accessible drug led some people to claim that there was a conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure While the FDA, cancer charities, and DCA researchers cited the need to conduct clinical studies before DCA could potentially be provided as a safe and effective cancer treatment, critics argue that four years on, pharmaceutical companies have neglected investing in trials on the drug, simply because it can’t be patented and therefore no profits can be made from it

A similar argument has been made by US cancer researchers, who, despite observing that taking aspirin regularly dramatically reduced the death rate in breast cancer victims, repeatedly failed to secure government funding for clinical trials Although the government should have no profit motives when deciding which trials receive funding, the researchers believe their rejection is due to aspirin being too cheap for anyone to make money off it as a cancer cure Additionally, despite studies showing that patients taking the diabetes drug metformin have a much lower risk of dying from prostate cancer, no drug company has funded studies into finding out how it could be used in cancer treatments, because it is not patented and therefore won’t generate a profit Instead of testing metformin as a cancer treatment, drug companies are looking for ways to modify it, so it can be patented as a new drug which will consequently make it more expensive for patients While there is no evidence to support the conspiracy that the cure for cancer is being suppressed, there is genuine concern by those involved in cancer research that big pharmaceutical companies prioritize their legal responsibility to shareholders to generate mass profits over their moral responsibility to improve patients’ lives

Because cancer is a class of diseases, it unlikely that there will ever be a single cure The extreme competition for financial resources between pharmaceutical companies means that they are less likely to embark on the innovative studies needed to make fundamentally new discoveries in cancer treatment, while the potentials in cheap cancer treatments aren’t investigated Nevertheless, cancer survivor rates in both the US and UK are improving and as long as cancer remains an indiscriminate disease able to affect both politicians and pharmaceutical executives, it is unlikely a cure for cancer will ever be suppressed

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