Maybe it won’t be cancer. Maybe it will be irumodic syndrome or Clarke’s disease. Or maybe it will be something else. But probably it will be cancer.
If I had to guess, I’d say specifically pancreatic cancer will soon rise to media-panicable levels. Studies will be conducted. Wee p-values will be produced. Work for lawyers will be discovered. The government will spring into action. San Francisco will find new things to ban.
Because why? Because it will be observed that pancreatic cancer rates are rising to hitherto unknown levels. This increase will be a true increase. Rates really will rise. It will not be a statistical aberration. The increased angst will therefore seem justified.
Who will be to blame? Cardiologists, mostly. That’s right, your friendly heart doctor in going to assist in unleashing a wave of painful deaths! Pulmonary specialists of various stripes will also share in the ignominy.
Because why? Because once cardiologists figure out how to stop people from dying of heart disease (and incidentally stroke and some other things), and since heart disease is by most counts the number one killer of human beings, and because you must die of something, then necessarily something else will be the number one killer.
In other words, saving people from mortal myocardial infarctions must necessarily cause them to die of something else. And whatever this something else is—and like I said, I’m guessing cancer—must naturally increase in its lethality rate. And since our media, legal, and government is designed for panicked response, look out!
There are two main reasons I’m guessing cancer. First is that great strides are being made in cardiology at every level, and that lethal cancers are much harder to treat than other diseases, and pancreatic cancer is next to impossible to treat. You can keep going with a chunk of your liver missing, and you can still digest your Corn Flakes without a stomach, but no pancreas and it’s So Long, Sarah.
Reason deux depends on how you count and where. The CDC says cancer is already the number two killer in the USA, pretty close behind heart disease. Coming in at number three but lagging way behind are various chronic lower respiratory diseases. So, reduce heart disease and cancer becomes number one by being next in line. Cancer rates will surely rise in the US of A.
The WHO breaks down (and I don’t vouch for how they did this; my point is only for illustration) causes of death by country income group. They say
lower respiratory diseases (not counting malaria) lead the way in the poorest countries, which rings true, followed fairly closely by HIV/AIDS. So, since lower respiratory diseases are (now) much easier to cure than HIV/AIDS, we’ll see in poor countries a rise in HIV/AIDS deaths.
More proof that cancer rates will rise can also be had by the WHO data. In the poorest countries, cancer doesn’t even make it onto the list of top 10 causes. But that’s because it’s hard to die of cancer when you’re dying faster from protein energy malnutrition (that’s also a cautionary note to you vegetarians out there).
Still no cancer in the top 10 in lower-middle income countries, but heart disease is number one. Malnutrition disappears but cirrhosis joins the august company. Thus does adding a few dollars to your wallet increase the risk of drinking yourself to death.
Cancer (liver and stomach) finally nabs the bottom two slots in upper-middle income countries; finally, once we group all the high income countries together (of which the USA is one) lung, colon, and breast cancers are three of the top 10. And so are Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Well, everybody knew these facts, which are in any case not surprising. But everybody will forget these facts once we start noticing the increase of whatever it is that will kill people in absence of heart disease. It will be as if some new bad thing is happening that is causing the outbreak, when the opposite is true: that something good happened in cardiology.
The causes and circumstances of this new number killer were always there—they are here now—but they just didn’t have a chance to operate so we don’t notice what they are. But once these are given their day in the sun, we will notice them and they will seem new and newsworthy and litigatable and politician-righteousness-guaranteeing and every other thing damn thing wrong with our culture.
But when it happens, remember that you heard it here first!