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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Chin-Lee

Bite your tongue

Cat with its tongue out from
I love cats because they love you and don't give you advice

When people tell me they or a loved one has cancer, I want to tell them to become a vegan and a lot more. But I have to bite my tongue.

Don’t give advice, the wise don’t need it. The fools won’t heed it.

So if you don’t want to read any further, you can stop! When I was pretty early on in my cancer appointments at what I consider the best medical center in the San Francisco Bay area: University of California San Francisco, I asked the surgeon about diet.

“Should I change my diet?” I asked. She said, “Just eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.”

I expected her reply, but was disappointed. Didn’t she see Forks Over Knives or The Game Changers? Didn’t she read the New York Times bestsellers, the Blue Zones or the China Study?

It reminds me of the long time it took for tobacco products to become controlled substances. Scientific evidence linking smoking to cancer was widely available decades before any cancer prevention work involving tobacco became popular. German scientists first found a link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1920s that British researchers confirmed in 1950. However, political action against smoking because of its known cancer causing effects didn’t mount until the 1980s, 60 years after the German research. Take a look at this ad from the 1940s.

Camel cigarettes, a brand from RJ Reynolds, used a series of ads to convince an unwitting public that doctors supported smoking.

The U.S. government officially admitted that cigarette, cigar, and chewing tobacco can cause cancer only since the 1980s despite evidence from the 1920s. In the U.S. smoking is outlawed in most public spaces, airplanes, buses and trains. We don’t allow tobacco products to be advertised in print ads or television, sold in vending machines, or marketed to youth.

Do you or a loved one have lymphoma, leukemia, brain or breast cancer? Those are just a few of the cancers my friends have mentioned to me recently. I’ll bite my tongue, but I wrote this for you.

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Aug 28, 2022

Reminds me of a professor I had in grad school for "Industrial Marketing." He had previously worked for RJ Reynolds. That made me somewhat skeptical of the curriculum!

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