“I’ve always hated coffee” said Joe Bloggs, sipping his chai latte as he sits somewhat dishevelled in a grey overcoat that insulates him against the wintry London weather. The Hackney coffeehouse he chose for this interview specialises in Peruvian blends, an apt reflection of his latest film set in South America.
... (insert interview)
... Joe, for one, will be hoping reviews for his next film is more of a blend than a roast.
I think people that write articles that start with long anecdotes (which are usually linked back to in the end) are trying to emulate the writing style you'd usually see in newspapers and magazine going back decades. It doesn't work well on the web I feel when there's an abundance of information where you're trying to filter through what's useful to read and what isn't. It's different when you're e.g. reading a magazine and have limited articles to pick from.
It doesn't work in magazines and newspapers either, but certain writerly circles (mostly American ones) consist of telling each other that this kind of fluff is a good idea.
You will find this kind of writing in Time magazine, but not in The Economist. Which is one of many reasons why TE is a better paper.
Pervasive SEO advice is also to blame. "Google loves long-form" is the common mantra. Just add a personal anecdote at the beginning to reach the target word count.
This is also how most non-fiction books begin.
Check out the Financial Times. Major motivation behind my subscription is their to-the-point writing style.
I am happy to report that as of 29-Dec, we are at 7 years post op. On the 1 year anniversary of when we got the diagnosis, I saw an xkcd strip. That gave me some hope of an eventual return to normalcy. A few years later, I saw one of the followons.
Little things like that help. They really do.
Because when I read such encouragements I imagine them being to say, someone with a pancreatic cancer (who is short term screwed considering the odds), from someone with maybe a breast cancer or prostate cancer (rather common and fairly beatable nowadays). And that feels very odd.
When we went through the process, there was a huge support system for my wife. Basically everyone was telling us positive messages. Some of them were wrong, but this was intended to keep her spirits and hope up. It turns out that you heal better when you have hope.
Meanwhile, I had to calm the fears of our then 12 year old daughter, help her to understand what was occuring. Simultaneously, I had to do this for my wife. And her family, and my family. All while dealing with my own worries.
It's not just the patient you have to take care of. It's everyone.
This is why knowing that others have done this, and survived, is so very important. Knowing that you can talk to them, voice your fears that you dare not do in front of your loved ones ... you need this when you are going through this.
Cancer sucks, no matter which one you deal with. I keep getting back to xkcd, as Randall and his wife went through it. Part of his "you are not alone, and it helps you to talk about it" are his strips. All the cancer ones are online along with explanations. I have some favorites, that help me during this process and especially  which came out last year. Read #4's panel 19 and 20 explanation to understand why this encouragement is so important.
There's another xkcd strip that, while not as optimistic, is just as important: https://xkcd.com/931
Just make every moment count with them, regardless of the prognosis.
Medicine pushed for these, as the most effective ways of fighting cancer. And it's working.
The same will hopefully happen to air pollution in cities, as a public health problem.
There's no "cure" for cancer as of yet, you can't even guarantee prevention. It's a combination of genetic damage and an immune system that gets prevented from stopping the proliferation of cancer cells because the cells mask themselves as healthy cells. In effect cancer is an immune disease, but that's not fully accurate. Saying it's down to lifestyle is like telling people who got the plague they should have just moved. We have barely more understanding about cancer causes than doctors at the time did about disease.
I mean, it might well be true that most people could live an extra 20 years with a suitable change of diet and lifestyle.
But even if that's the case, isn't everyone going to die of cancer or heart failure at the end of those extra 20 years?
All we can do is to reduce the probability by causing less DNA damage through all the various means. Even then, pure chance can still strike because this is what life is at its core: a cumulation of (seemingly?) random chance events.
Don't get me wrong, I'm going to therapy and I'm not depressed. Just scared :) .
I seem to recall someone theorizing that the increased prevalence of oral sex is responsible by putting HPV deeper into the throat and thereby increasing the prevalence of throat cancers.
HPV vaccinations should cause a corresponding down tick shortly if that is true.
From Wiki + https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/2010/06/hpv-positive-tum...
It does seem indeed that there is more prevalence of laryngeal cancer due to HPV however according to that link above, it should not worsen survival rates but rather make them better, wouldn't it?
The PBS series "How We Got to Now" is a great resource for the huge advances in health made in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Looked eerily similar to this one:
Source for nuclear test data: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/nucleartesttally
And before there were nuclear tests, there was a big fad to expose yourself to radiation early in the 1900s: https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2004-08/healthy-glow-...
Is the argument that the nuclear tests, etc had zero effect on lung cancer rates? If not, what was it?
If nuclear tests are the main reason for lung cancer, then why did lung cancer incidence start rising before nuclear weapons were invented?
If nuclear tests are the main reason for lung cancer, and their effect is due to background radiation, why weren't all cancers increasing steadily rather than simply lung cancer?
It became easier to diagnose, or perhaps more trendy? It is actually really hard to distinguish between lung cancer and tuberculosis. At ref 2 you can see tuberculosis rates dropping from 200/100k in 1900 to near 0 in 1980. In the meantime lung cancer rose from near 0 to ~100/100k deaths.
Also, as I mentioned, there was a fad to expose yourself to radioactive stuff starting about 1900 that only died out in the 1960s.
So, could be lots of things in combination.
>"If nuclear tests are the main reason for lung cancer, and their effect is due to background radiation, why weren't all cancers increasing steadily rather than simply lung cancer?"
My understanding is they were. The lungs may especially vulnerable to radioactive dust though, if they had already "accounted for", as the lung cancers due to smoking, then this could have been missed.
Epidemiology is a field of study about how to do this right. One of the great achievement of humanity in the 20th century was advance of epidemiology.
>"the lung cancer mortality rate has risen substantially between 1914 and 1968 among persons who never smoked cigarettes. For white males the relative increase for ages 35--84 years has been about 15-fold; the relative increase for ages 65--84 years has been about 30-fold."
Lung cancer in never smokers (2009) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170525/ shows the field in confusion. Radon, indoor air pollution, second-hand smoking are named as possible sources, but it's still not satisfactory.
But do you see why I didn't care if a correlation existed? There are a bunch of ways to explain such a correlation. That line of reasoning was based on the affirming the consequent fallacy:
H: Nuclear tests are a significant factor in lung cancer rate
O: We should still see a correlation between lung cancer incidence and nuclear test frequency [in non-smokers]
In terms of Bayes' Rule, I only care if p( O|H ) dominates all the other possibilities (H[1:n]) in the denominator. The mere existence of a positive correlation isn't specific enough for me to care:
p( H|O ) = p( H )*p( O|H )/sum( p( H[0:n] )*p( O|H[0:n] ) )
-Not sure what you mean by this, it is quite possible to deduce precise predictions from an epidemiological model. See, eg, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2007940/
>"it depends on whether observation is "specific enough" for you [is] unlikely to arise from other hypotheses, which in turn depends on your prior"
-This has to do with the likelihoods, p( O|H[i] ), not the priors: p( H[i] ).
>"[the prior] is informed by laboratory results in addition to field results"
Re: laboratory results, it is noteworthy smoking and non-smoking lung cancer have different molecular signature. Lung cancer probably should be considered two separate diseases, and this probably overstates smoking connection because some lung cancer by smokers is of non-smoking kind and not caused by smoking. This can be better understood by including such signatures in epidemiological study.
Nevertheless, people commit that fallacy all the time in epidemiology. They say stuff like "if smoking caused cancer, then people who smoked would get cancer more often". Then if there is a (statistically significant) positive correlation between cancer and smoking, they conclude smoking causes cancer.
That is quite obviously affirming the consequent. I explain the (completely different and correct) probabilistic way to think about this situation using Bayes' rule in my post.
It has nothing to do with arbitrary cut-offs for telling us whether a correlation exists or not. Instead it requires comparing the relative performance of the various explanations (at least the top few candidates since extremely unlikely ones can be dropped from the sum in the denominator).
Saying smoking is a risk factor of cancer is very different from smoking causes cancer. As you said, you must consider alternative explanations. On the other hand, people can disagree about what alternative explanations are "extremely unlikely" and "can be dropped", that's what I meant by prior. For example, nuclear test causes cancer, is probably extremely unlikely.
Smoking being a risk factor of cancer is an evidence of smoking causing cancer. Being evidence of causal relation is completely different from being sufficient to prove causal relation.
Pick a paper, I bet they do.
Definitely, but if O had been false we might have learned something. More interestingly though:
> another thing to consider is fallout incorporated into tobacco and then smoked
That's an interesting thought, I'd never considered that.
My expectation for beta and gamma emitters is that they would be unlikely to cause cancer specifically in the lungs, because lungs aren't very dense and would have a pretty low interaction cross section for such penetrating radiation. For comparison, I-131 -- a beta emitter common in fallout -- is a significant risk for thyroid cancer only because iodine is biologically concentrated in the thyroid.
However, if there were significant fallout of alpha emitters, which were deposited in tobacco, this could conceivably deliver a significant localized dose to the lungs. Alpha emitters are more or less only dangerous internally, but smoke particulates that become lodged in the lungs could do the job. There appears to be a fair amount of literature on this -- Naturally occurring Po-210 is apparently still considered a danger today , and has been known to the cigarette companies since the 60s . Some apparently comes from decay of natural U (via a few intermediaries) in phosphate fertilizer.
A figure in one paper I was able to find  suggests up to 100 pCi/kg Pu-239 and Pu-240 (both alpha) in leaves and grass in Finland circa 1963, declining to less than 5 pCi by 1967. The modern Po-210 alpha activity in tobacco appears to be much higher than either of these values (perhaps several hundred pCi/kg in dry tobacco, if not more), but I couldn't find good data on variation over time. For Pb-210 (beta) there is more data, but seems to be a lot of scatter and not so much of a clear trend through time .
I'm not really concerned with whether there is, or is not, a correlation, I already know there is a correlation.
I am concerned about: How much of the increase in lung cancer incidence we see in the data could be accounted for via exposure to radiation from nuclear tests? I doubt it is zero, but it could be relatively negligible I suppose.
The timing of it does overlap quite well though.
If nuclear tests are a significant factor in lung cancer rate, we should still see a correlation between lung cancer incidence and nuclear test frequency when looking at people with no exposure to cigarette smoke. If the correlation in the general population just a coincidence, we should not.