Government Won’t Save You

In Today’s Washington Post, Cindy Skrzycki reports on Devra Davis’s book The Secret History of the War on Cancer. According to Skrzycki, Davis asserts that “10 million cancer deaths could have been avoided over the past 30 years had it not been for industry opposition to good science and regulatory inaction by the U.S. government.”

Wow! There’s the answer we all have been looking for! If we want to get rid of cancer, we simply need to cede more power to bureaucrats in governments around the world! Not really; if only it were that easy. Governments are as likely (actually much less likely!) to save us from cancer as they are likely produce world peace.

That is, of course, a key problem with Davis’s assumptions, but it isn’t the only one. An epidemiologist by trade, Davis should do better with her science. According to the renowned biochemist Bruce Ames, Davis’s “has gone completely overboard” and Elizabeth Whelan of the American Council Science on Science and Health rightly describes the book as “fringe.” As Whelan explains, Davis would perform a much greater service if she focused educating people on known cancer risk factors such as poor diets and smoking.