Prevention, cheaper than chasing cures

By Mari Anne Gest of Portland, Oregon, who describes herself as a "homegrown progressive advocate that wants to keep Blue Oregon green". Previously, she contributed Timberrrr! Legislators are at it again.

It was just a thought. My mother has a rare disease that could cause blindness.

I asked her if the doctor thought there was a connection to her growing up next to a Nuclear Reactor in the 40's. Radiation was released at much higher levels then.

Several years ago my mom survived thyroid cancer -- a common side effect of over exposure to radiation. I myself had a tumor removed from my thyroid. My little sister was born with a birth defect, but what the heck -- everyone has a sad story to tell. We are of pioneer stock and not inclined to whine.

Just for a moment I wondered out loud to my mother why so much money is spent on finding a cure for cancer and disease instead of prevention? I remember my mom going door to door in our neighborhood to raise money to fight cancer. She said; 'It's the money.' 'Pharmaceutical companies spend millions (and make billions) researching and selling cures.'

If we focused on prevention we'd find ourselves taking on corporate America, political leaders and the almighty dollar.

When we get sick we go to the health care community, which is important for jobs and the economy. Not to mention the pharmaceutical companies that provide the drugs we need to feel better when we get sick, and the advertisement world, which depends on these drug makers. How dare we interfere with the economy?

And what about cleaning up our rivers and protecting them while we have a chance? Could there be a tie to prevention of health problems? Why bother when we help fuel the economy by purchasing bottled water. We destroy the habitat for our wild salmon by logging but we need the money and jobs. Farmed salmon is just as good though studies show they can harm our health. But again, this strategy is important to keeping our economy going.

It's interesting how government regulations change over time regarding chemicals. One day they are acceptable and the next, after testing on us, yes, us, they realize that maybe those so called scientific tests performed by the manufacturer weren't 100% accurate. But don't blame the government; they don't have the money to provide testing for all those chemicals and pollutants. Remember we want tax cuts - but not to worry, the companies will perform the scientific studies! We can have our studies and tax cuts too.

Our economy would suffer a severe setback if we curtailed industrial polluters. Water? We have lots in Oregon. But what we don't have are good jobs. It's a no-brainer for our politicians - jobs win. We will always have an abundance of clean water -- Right?

Sorry mom. You are right. It is easier to let those corporate giants sink money into finding a cure. After all, they make money from creating the problem and then make more money from treating our symptoms and our economy goes round. We are so thrilled to have our jobs that we don't dare mess with a good thing.

It was just a thought.


  • David Ayers (unverified)

    I just recently found out I am a nuclear reactor. My mother, a Klanswoman, wishing to rid herself of a darker than average baby, fried me with a toe box (Fluoroscopy machine) in the late forties. Because she hid my condition from physicians with lies, my wives, past and present, my children, and even my pets are suffering from radiation sickness. Some of us are dead, and all will be. It's likely people who ate lunch with me at work have died of a Klan lynching committed a half century ago. At the age of sixty, I know now, why I always felt a little sick to death.

  • David English (unverified)

    Mari has a good point, in fact her point carries over into other subjects as well such as crime, drugs, AIDS, etc.

    An ounce of prevention in any of these areas would save lives and money in terms of public taxes. The question is: Do we ever think that far ahead anymore?

    Clearly it's time to rethink some of our policies that up until now have failed.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Overall a good point, but one I take with caution.

    Prevention is often posed as an alternative to later treatment. In the fields of alcohol/drug addition, mental health, childrens services, etc. etc., we have experience with what happens when politicians look at prevention and treatment. They tend to fund prevention because its cheaper.

    But then the question has to be, does it work?

    Sometimes things can't be prevented. What happens then if you have made the political decision to fund prevention, and not treatment? Well, people die.

    Imagine having discovered that you have some rare cancer - and being given Vitamin C. Sometimes prevention doesn't work, and you need treatment.

    I know that the author didn't advocate prevention instead of treatment, just pointing out how it is heard in Salem and Washington DC.

  • Becky (unverified)
    <h2>My great uncle, a medical doctor and researcher, devoted his life to searching for natural cures for major diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. His whole foods diet saved the lives of thousands of his patients who came to him after having been told they would soon die. In fact, because of the growth hormones injected into commercial chickens, he refused to even treat anyone for cancer unless they swore off eating chicken (he said the hormones fed the cancer cells). But over time he increasingly came to realize that soil depletion and genetic modification (meant to increase attractiveness and shelf life) were undermining the nutritional value of our food so that whole foods purchased at the chain grocery store were no longer as reliable a cure for these diseases. Sometimes these foods contain just a small fraction of the nutritional value of the original varieties we ate years ago, which were allowed to ripen on the vine or tree, were grown in rich soils, and were designed by nature (new vitamin and nutrition studies of modern GM foods grown in modern soils are necessary). Only organic foods grown in amended soils contain anywhere near the necessary levels of nutrients for healthful living. It would appear that corporations have not only polluted the environment (and us) and thereby strengthened the pharmaceutical industry, but they have also made the only real natural cure for disease - healthy, natural whole foods - almost impossible to come by. Though I'm no scientist, I believe the decline of our food quality is directly linked to the increases we are seeing in allergies, diabetes, cancer, and even obesity rates.</h2>
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