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Thread: If we cure the two Big C's

  1. #1
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    If we cure the two Big C's

    Suppose we cure Cancer (the "long illness" of obituaries) and Cardiovascular Disease (the "short illness" of obituaries). How much would life expectency increase? IIRC these kill late in life, so i would not be surprised if the effects were minimal. Am I right?
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  2. #2
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    Cardiovascular disease can be a much longer illness than cancer, so I wouldn't go making diagnostic guesses based on standard obituary phrases.

    A British Medical Journal article earlier this year looked at cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes as modifiable risk factors (so not what you're asking about), but had the following to say in its introduction, which does address your question:
    People with chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have a shorter life expectancy than do their peers without these chronic conditions. Estimates of the loss in life years due to these chronic conditions range from 7.5 to 20 years, depending on the methods used and the characteristics of the study population.
    Grant Hutchison

  3. #3
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    My very non-expert opinion is that we will never "cure" either of this, in the sense that there is a single treatment or procedure that completely prevents or eliminates existing cancer or cardiovascular disease.

    What i think we've seen, and will continue to see, is continuing improvements in the detection and treatment, that will make these increasingly manageable diseases.

    For example (from this website)

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  4. #4
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    It's worth noting that "a lengthy illness" used to be obituary code for "had AIDS and we're not going to mention that they're gay."
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    It's worth noting that "a lengthy illness" used to be obituary code for "had AIDS and we're not going to mention that they're gay."
    I certainly remember the phrase being used in obituaries before AIDS came along, so I think it was used in any situation where the person had a long illness and the family didn't particularly want to reveal the details. It's true that I generally assumed that "a long illness" meant cancer and "a short illness" meant a heart attack, but as Grant pointed out, that's more of a stereotype than the reality. People can die within months or weeks of being diagnosed with cancer, and can have a stroke and die after many years. So sure, it would have been used in obituaries for people with AIDS, but for many other diseases as well.
    As above, so below

  6. #6
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    Yes, back in the first half of the twentieth century, "after a lengthy illness" was considered to be a flag for tuberculosis, which had a considerable stigma attached to it.

    I'm not convinced that the supposed "long=cancer / short=cardiac" obituary code was ever a real thing; it always struck me as being on a par with the Secret Code Of Equestrian Statues.

    Grant Hutchison

  7. #7
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    Well, cancer had such a stigma that when I was a kid the local newspaper horoscope column called people born between June 21 and July 22 "Moon children".
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  8. #8
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    Well, if horoscope writers wrote obituaries, I'm sure people would die of "excessive influence of the moon".

    Grant Hutchison

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