Curing Cancerphobia: How Risk, Fear, and Worry Mislead Us (Hardcover)

Curing Cancerphobia: How Risk, Fear, and Worry Mislead Us By David Ropeik Cover Image

Curing Cancerphobia: How Risk, Fear, and Worry Mislead Us (Hardcover)


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Our fear of cancer causes great harm to individual health and to society.

The fear of cancer is understandable. But that fear is in some ways outdated, as it fails to account for the medical progress made against this family of diseases. In Curing Cancerphobia, David Ropeik reveals the fascinating historical and psychological roots of our fear of cancer and documents the dramatic health and financial harms caused when that fear exceeds the risk.

Fear of cancer drives millions for whom screening is not recommended to screen for the disease anyway, producing tens of thousands of emotionally damaging false positives and costing the US health care system an estimated $9.2 billion a year. At the same time, fear of cancer also causes many people for whom screening is recommended to avoid it altogether.

Modern screening technologies often identify cancers that do not spread or that grow so slowly they almost certainly will never cause harm in a person's lifetime. Yet many of these people, frightened by the word "cancer" in their diagnosis, understandably choose more aggressive and risky treatments than their clinical conditions require. These unnecessary treatments kill hundreds of people, cause severe side effects in thousands, and cost the health care system at least $5.2 billion a year.

Additionally, consumers spend billions of dollars on vitamins and supplements, organic food, and other products that promise to reduce our risk of cancer but do not actually reduce it. And an excessive fear of cancer causes resistance to potentially beneficial technologies like nuclear power and fluoridation of tap water. After documenting these harms, Ropeik offers tools and suggestions to help reduce the negative impacts of cancerphobia. Based on extensive research including interviews with experts and cancer patients, Curing Cancerphobia confronts our emotional relationship with the disease we fear more than any other.

David Ropeik (BOSTON, MA) is a retired instructor who taught at Harvard University. He is the author of How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts. He was formerly an award-winning broadcast journalist in Boston, a science columnist for the Boston Globe, a board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Product Details ISBN: 9781421447407
ISBN-10: 1421447401
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date: November 28th, 2023
Pages: 392
Language: English