Cancer, American Style
March 7th, 2009 ·
If ever you've wondered about the incidence rates of particular cancers within the state you live have a look at:
By entering the name of almost any type of cancer, the gender and race of the group you are interested in, and a region within the U.S. you have at your disposal a goldmine of public heath information. (You also can find information across all races and for the United States as a whole.) The data there is from 2001 to 2005. Hopefully funding will permit an update of this information.
Here's the Ovarian Cancer lowdown. As of 2004, the U.S. state with the highest incidence rate (across all races) was the District of Columbia (16%); the state with the lowest was South Dakota (8.5%) – as of 2005, data was not available for Maryland. In 2004, the incidence rate for the nation was 12.5 %.
Ironically, the soundtrack to my perusing of these public health records is The Yardbird's "Think About It" complements of another favorite website of mine The Technicolor Web of Sound. In the history that is this girl's life, the two sites are not unrelated.
I came of age in a suburb of Boston that was home to my family from 1974 to 1991.
During those years, as I sat holed up in my bedroom listening to music, as my mother painted, cooked, or gardened; as my sister made up detailed plays with her theater friends, we each apparently were inadvertent participants in a public health phenomenon.
There are many factors contributing to a region's cancer rates – the ethnic/socioeconomic makeup of the population, the physical environment, and trends in diet, lifestyle, and health care. So many things were going on in our neighborhood that it's impossible to know which in particular were responsible for the fact that 20 years later our county had the third highest incidence rate of ovarian cancer (15%) in the state (14.5% for Massachusetts as a whole).
At a recent high school reunion, I learned at least one other mom from our neighborhood had been diagnosed with—and died from—ovarian cancer.
It's these kinds of findings that don't allow me to rest easy, even though I have been blessed with a negative BRCA. Occurrence of disease in an individual is a result of a conglomeration of factors, an equation that might look something like: genetic predisposition + environment + lifestyle can equal disease.
Community Mapping Projects by breast cancer researchers have gone so far as to map neighborhoods street-by-street, and in so doing have located breast cancer clusters, areas where the incidence rate of breast cancer far exceeds the norm. Some of the factors possibly at play in those locations: pesticide usage and contamination to the water supply to name a few.
Now playing on the Technicolor Web of Sound is "Gentle Loving San Francisco Man." It's a whole lot easier to take than cancer clusters. Especially since San Francisco has an ovarian cancer incidence rate a full 2% less than that of the room I am sitting in now.
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Words of Wisdom
"Act as if the principle by which you act were about to be turned into a universal law of nature". --Immanuel Kant
"You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no results." --Gandhi
"The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." –Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." --Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Your silence will not protect you." --Audre Lorde
"A time comes when silence is betrayal." --Martin Luther King
"Liberty can not be preserved without general knowledge among people."
"The world shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." --Anais Nin
"Remaining silent about the destruction of nature is an endorsement of that destruction."
--Redwood Mary (a.k.a. Mary Rose)
That which is looked upon by one generation as the apex of human knowledge is often considered an absurdity by the next, and that which is regarded as a superstition in one century may form the basis of
science for the following one. --Paracelsus
"How could I imagine how lost in the open field I was." --Neal Lindley
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
" If one advances confidently in the direction of their dreams, And endeavors to lead a life which they have imagined, They will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
--Henry David Thoreau
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being
Motivation is not a problem for anyone who accepts the extraordinary truth contained in Yeshe Aro's ancient prescription for happiness: "On this depends my liberation: to assist others – nothing else."
"Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
James 4: 1-3 (James is the brother of Jesus, who became a leader in the early church)