THE CAUSE OF CANCER [To the Editor of the SrECrAToR.]
SIR,--Among the mortality statistics of the leading nations the British are universally considered to be the most reliable. Drawing upon the British mortality statistics contained in the Seventy-fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General, 1923, I have shown that the mortality from cancer is about three times as high among barmen, merchant seamen and butchers as among agricultural labourers and clergymen. These figures are not challenged by cancer specialists or statisticians.
In your issue of November 28th, Dr. Harry Roberts ventures to throw doubt upon the figures published by the British Government, tells your readers that " statistics are tricky things " and actually tries to disprove the Registrar-General's statistics by furnishing very different statistics of deaths from cancer published by a private insurance company in America. The Registrar-General's report can be obtained for a few shillings by every one of your numerous readers from any book- seller or newsagent. The statistics published by the Pruden. tial Insurance Company of America are unobtainable by your readers, I myself do not possess them, and therefore cannot check them. Dr. Roberts' comparison is, of course, absolutely unfair. For all I know he may have misread the American figures, for " statistics are tricky things," as he rightly remarks.
Besides, it is quite inadmissible to compare cancer mortality among English agricultural labourers and among American farmers and agricultural labourers. The British agricultural labourers live very frugally on healthy, natural food. I have Investigated agricultural conditions in America on the spot, and I was horrified to find that the country workers in the United States live almost exclusively on de-natured, frozen, chilled, preserved, tinned and bottled foods. I think it is an insult to your readers' intelligence to throw doubt upon the mortality statistics of the Registrar-General relating to an entire nation by quoting the unobtainable statistics of a private American insurance company, which, for all I know, may be a bsolutely unreliable.
Those who desire to discover the • cause of cancer in the diseased cells absolutely refuse. to consider the factors which cause the normal cell to become diseased. We cannot -ascer- tain the genius of a dead man by looking at sections of the brain under the microscope, as has been done by foolish pseudo- scientists. We can never discover the causation of cancer by studying cancer cells while disregarding all the evidence which plainly points to the fact why the normal cells have become eanevrous. It is a misfortune that cancer research has become the monopoly of a class of men who consider nothing but the cancerous cell and refuse to consider • any evidence which common sense and general experience would suggest. In America the cancer mortality is vastly higher in the towns than in the country districts, but these figures, like those which I furnished to your readers, are either not mentioned by the professional cancer researchers or they are treated in the way in which Dr. Roberts has treated them. Indeed " statistics are tricky things." Dr. Roberts and other cell specialists will provide the public with masses of information, praising the so-called epoch-making discoveries of cancer students who so far have discovered nothing of any practical value and they will try to explain away all the evidence which shows the uselessness of cell investigation.
Meanwhile, I would repeat that cancer is a disease of civiliza- tion, that it is practically unknown among primitive races leading primitive lives, and that the cancer mortality in this country is approximately three times as heavy among butchers, public-house workers and seamen as among agricultural labourers and clergymen. I venture to think that these facts are more valuable than all the so-called discoveries of the cancer specialists.—I ant, Sir, &c., [The reason why primitive peoples, who do not eat de-natured foods, appear to be largely immune from cancer has never been clearly explained. 1)iet has a much snore important bearing on health than is often admitted. Dr. Harry Roberts, in his article, neither minimized the importance of diet nor expressed a predilection for anything but an open mind, combined with a judicial attitude towards the plausible.—En. Spectator.]..