For those of you who are regular readers or who have familiarized themselves with my situation, you will know I have a bit of a problem with prostate cancer.   The problem is now into its sixth year and it seems that although the disease hasn’t really changed, it is now expressing itself more profoundly.  Over this time I’ve learned there is one constant, everyone seems to know the cause and a cure.  That this seems to be ‘reality’ in the minds of many, perplexes me since over 30,000 men die each year from prostate cancer and the number doesn’t seem to be diminishing, a fact which suggests a cure has yet to be discovered.

For now I’ll focus on the latest cause I’ve read, interesting and at the same time, comical.  So, you may ask, what is this newest revelation – it is none other than early balding.  Yes, that is what I said, balding at an early age is supposedly correlated with propensity to get prostate cancer.  Interestingly, I read this on a Facebook page focused on prostate cancer, sort of a support group, founded by a guy, diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age, whom I’m beginning to believe has a personal agenda.  Agenda’s aside, the balding study, at least that which I’ve read so far, seems a bit loose in its correlations.  Many know the generalization which holds that statisticians can ‘prove’ anything they want if they manipulate the data correctly and this certainly seems to be the case with balding and prostate cancer.

The ‘study’ reminds me of something my son came home with from his health class several years ago.  It seemed that one of his fellow students heard that masturbation reduced incidences of prostate cancer.  The study asked men in their 60’s and 70’s how frequently they masturbated when in their 20’s and masturbation frequency with  incidences of prostate cancer.  It seems that they saw a correlation between the frequency of reported masturbation and prostate cancer.  In short, the study claimed that the more a guy masturbated in his 20’s, the less likely he was to get prostate cancer in his later years.  interestingly, the number of times the individuals in the study claimed to have masturbated far exceeded that recorded as typical by sex researchers such as Masters and Johnson.  Somehow I have to believe these ‘old guys’ memories were a bit clouded and with age consuming their sexual prowess, they overcompensated.

So, back to balding and the calamity of that ‘finding’.  For those of us familiar with the many epidemiological studies which seek to correlate diseases, and in this case prostate cancer, to some causal effect, we know the only weak correlations that exist with prostate cancer is farming and truck driving.  At that, the strength of the correlation is so weak few even subscribe to the notion any relationship exists.  When reading the study on balding, it was clear the attempt at deriving a correlation was, at best, very weak.  So why should we care if some researcher tries to make a name for themselves by publishing such a study?  More importantly, why should we care such a study would even be published, surely such a journal must represent quackery, at least at some level.

In my view it is less about balding and prostate cancer and more about how we, as a people, seem obsessed with trying to assign ‘blame’, to and for, anything.  Many often ask me if I know why I got my cancer and the answer is simple, I don’t know.  By all measures my genealogy suggests little or no probability of getting the disease.  In short, with none of the typical risk factors, principally no affected male relatives, I am an anomaly.  In the end, at least in my mind, while it would be nice to know what may have caused my cancer, good to know from a preventative perspective, does it really matter?  I guess it’s kind of like the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, long-standing and no one really knows why it started, but not knowing why didn’t prevent them from ending the feud. 

The dilemma that arises here is where to focus one’s energy.  Perhaps we are better served by applying more energy to seeking the cure than to finding the cause.  By taking this approach we can stem the bleeding, stop the deaths resulting from the disease, irrespective of how or when it appears.  However, perhaps by identifying the cause we will no longer be concerned with a cure because, if the cause is known, the disease will fade away with each afflicted person’s passing.  Something to think about, perhaps something to consider with all of life’s dilemmas.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com

ciao

Lifesabstractions

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