THE MIND, SOCIETY AND CANCER

People are more than the sum of their chemical molecules and cells. They are social beings. As we have seen, the pattern of cancer varies from one society to another; and these different patterns reflect not only the different pool of genes in each society but also the environmental differences which may play a part in causing cancer. In this context, ‘environmental differences’ embrace the social, economic and political circumstances in which individuals find themselves. Such circumstances will determine many facets of their lives, including many of the physical features of their environment. Advanced industrial processes potentially expose people to more carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) but if the individuals who may in some way be affected by those processes happen to live in a country with a free press, pressure groups, ‘watchdog’ organizations and a government responsible to an electorate, there is a better chance of the necessary environmental safeguards being put in place. To take another example, prevailing social attitudes to smoking or being suntanned will have a direct influence on the extent to which individuals indulge in these risky habits. Variations in diet between countries, or between different groups within the same country, remain under investigation as a possible environmental explanation for different levels of cancer incidence. Such variations are the product of a complex web of social, economic and physical factors.
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THE MIND, SOCIETY AND CANCERPeople are more than the sum of their chemical molecules and cells. They are social beings. As we have seen, the pattern of cancer varies from one society to another; and these different patterns reflect not only the different pool of genes in each society but also the environmental differences which may play a part in causing cancer. In this context, ‘environmental differences’ embrace the social, economic and political circumstances in which individuals find themselves. Such circumstances will determine many facets of their lives, including many of the physical features of their environment. Advanced industrial processes potentially expose people to more carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) but if the individuals who may in some way be affected by those processes happen to live in a country with a free press, pressure groups, ‘watchdog’ organizations and a government responsible to an electorate, there is a better chance of the necessary environmental safeguards being put in place. To take another example, prevailing social attitudes to smoking or being suntanned will have a direct influence on the extent to which individuals indulge in these risky habits. Variations in diet between countries, or between different groups within the same country, remain under investigation as a possible environmental explanation for different levels of cancer incidence. Such variations are the product of a complex web of social, economic and physical factors.*109\194\4*

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January 28, 2011 · Posted in Cancer  
    

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