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CANCER -    the cultural battleground

Mark Kinzley argues that the deep cultural significance of cancer means that AVs need to tackle widely- held prejudices in this area, particularly the myth that animal experiments can bring relief from the disease.

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"A great deal of money and energy is put into pressing politicians for change, but politicians will never concede more than the wider public consensus positively wants. Consequently, the political arena is a waste of time and money. The real wellsprings of change  lie outside of the political arena. Politicians do respond to the mood of the public; that is, to what the widely-shared perception is. If they do not respond, they would become unpopular.  Public perception is ultimately the deciding factor."
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"AV  & AR organisations should concentrate on the cultural arena for maximum strategic effect by working to change the public perception."

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"The single most strategic thing we can do is to write letters to local newspapers and use other methods of communication to get people thinking differently about certain key words, and so perceiving differently."

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"In  the effort to get people to see ‘vivisection’ differently, the commanding heights of the argument is their beliefs about ‘cancer’. In  the 22/5/99 New Scientist poll, vivisection for leukaemia (as an example of cancer) had the highest acceptance. IF THE PUBLIC CAME TO SEE VIVISECTION AS IRRELEVANT TO THE PREVENTION OF CANCER THEN THEY WOULD HAVE LESS TOLERANCE FOR VIVISECTION FOR OTHER PURPOSES. People only accept vivisection in the one instance because they are afraid, and having accepted in this instance they tolerate other vivisections because they  now feel too guilty or hard-hearted to open their hearts and feel for other vivisections. When you talk to people in the street , it often comes down to "But I do accept vivisection for cancer research"."
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"The general public is unaware of unconventional thinking about the cause of cancer and its prevention. If the public perception flip-flopped over, then vivisection for cancer research would look irrelevant. The motives of the cancer researchers would then look questionable."
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"Cancer is a debate that no AV/AR organisation has prioritised in a strategy-minded way and really, really focused on. The public has not been reached.
All those people walking into cancer charity shops, giving donations to street
collectors  or for fund-raising events - they have not  rejected the alternative view of cancer, they have never even heard it.

A way of communicating might be by means of a day of demos outside cancer charity shops. Or, to get into the media, how about a national march on the theme ‘Cancer- the solutions’. Various politicians and pop singers would address such a rally.

For us as individuals, letters to local newspapers about cancer is highly strategic. Stupid letters are published in support of cancer research fund-raising: letter writers who never mention making lifestyle changes to prevent cancer, but only of supporting scientists to solve it for them. The research scientists do not use their position of authority to advocate taking personal responsibility. And why have they never used their position of authority  to speak out against pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables, against food additives, pollution of the sea and fish, cancer clusters around nuclear sites? The appearance is that they are not interested in challenging vested interests but in safeguarding their jobs.

Far and away the biggest causes of cancer are known. In order: firstly chemical pollution; then smoking; refined carbohydrates; saturated fat and unsaturated fat; sugar; salt; lack of exercise. The World Cancer Research Fund says that one third of cancer is down to diet alone. That is not counting in the cancerous effects of toxins in factory-farmed meat; the growth-promoting hormones, antibiotics, nitrates and concentrated pesticides from feed.

The letter writers who do not take these measures themselves are hypocrites - and should be told so. First let people eliminate the known causes of cancer, and then let us see how many cancers remain and research those ones."

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Acknowledgments to Mark Kinzley (excerpted  from ‘uncaged’ article,  Autumn 1999)

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What you choose to eat has a major impact on your risk of developing major diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, obesity and diabetes, according to Dr. R. Deckelbaum of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

An estimated one-third of the annual cancer deaths in the US is r elated to an unhealthy diet. Simply changing the way we eat can change that statistic.

Based on the top nutritional and health experts’ conclusions, the high saturated fat content of animal -derived foods is one of the major causes of heart diseases, cancer, strokes, diabetes, obesity, etc. These major chronic diseases kill 1.4 million American lives each year (which is more than two thirds of all the deaths in the US) and $250 billion in medical costs and production losses annually.

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