How to Save Yourself: Advice From a Cancer Doctor

Don’t smoke.

You’ve all heard this.

I treat lung cancer as a physician. Have done so for forty years. If you smoke cigarettes, you are over ten times as likely to get lung cancer. So don’t do it. 1 in 6 smokers get lung cancer; 1 in 77 non-smokers get lung cancer.

Enough said?

Maybe not. Giving it up is very difficult. Mark Twain said it was the easiest thing he could do. He did it a thousand times.

But it is not your fault. 

The tobacco companies advertised it, and up until ten to fifteen years ago, they denied the dangers. They sold it to you. Did they tell you it would cause lung cancer? No. Because in order to make money they have to tell you it doesn’t.

Do you believe them? No. I didn’t think so.

In Canada, smoking prevalence has dropped from 31% to 18% since the peak in 1988. And, surprise, surprise, so too has new lung cancer.

Now, we are actually starting to see a rise in non tobacco related lung cancer, because smoking is gradually going the way of the Edsel. Maybe, in another fifty years, the incidence of lung cancer will come down to the same level as Breast Cancer, or Colon Cancer, but it still has a ways to go.

Don’t drink in excess.

One drink a day for females, two or less for men. One drink is 1.25 oz hard liquor, 4oz, wine, one routine bottle of beer. We call each of these an alcohol equivalent. Women are smaller, in general, an don’t have as much Alcohol Dehydrogenase in their stomach’s as men, do tolerate it all rather less than men. But there is wide variability.

Alcohol causes cancer of the lung, tongue, larynx, pharynx,…Maybe not so much for lung…but Breast Cancer is also being implicated. One of the youngest patients with Breast Cancer I ever had, about 28 years old, and yes, she died of the disease, had binge drank every weekend during her teens.

Get enough exercise.

27-30 MET-hours per week. Reduces your risk by twenty percent. What’s a MET? A metabolic equivalent. Sit doing nothing, like I am now, for one hour, is one MET-hour. Jog one hour, that’s 7 MET-hours. run hard, like an athlete, for one hour, that’s 12MET-hours.

How do you know you’re doing enough? Perspiration and shortness of breath, enough so you cannot talk for long sentences, are signs of adequate effort.

One hour, three times a week, or half an hour, six times a week. And less is still good.


Not enough differences to be bothered. Just make sure you are close to normal weight. And eat lots of fruit and veggies.


Who knows? You can’t measure it, so how can you tell people to reduce it. It’s like asking you not to have the parents you do. Good luck with that.

Personally, I think being a Cancer Doctor is one of the most stressful things you can do! But teachers think it’s teaching and musicians think it’s musicianing, so who knows. We just don’t think professions make a big difference: firefighters fighting fires with certain carcinogens in the building that is burning, asbestos workers who still don’t know how to protect themselves,…I can’t think off the top of my head any others…hmmm…maybe smokers. Did I say that?

Choose your parents wisely. Great advice if you could do it, for a bunch of reasons. But you can’t, even if you wanted to, which you don’t.

So just attend to the first three. It’s all you can reasonably do. Do that, and stop worrying, because there is just not much else you can do!

Remember, this site is dedicated to Science Fiction Doctor and any of the Permutations and Combinations of these words: this particular blog is to help me learn how to blog, ’cause I’m new at it, and in this circumstance, it is Science Doctor!


2 thoughts on “How to Save Yourself: Advice From a Cancer Doctor

    1. Well, I have done a post Second Hand Vape, but that was about our government suggesting people could ‘Vape’ in public … Silly, because innocent people around the vaper is exposed. It depends on what is in the Vape, but the act of vaping is so suggestive and similar to smoking, it represents a social acceptance of the behavior which would increase smoking in general. So Vape in the privacy of your own home would be my request.

      Liked by 1 person

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