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September 3, 1932

Cancer: Civilization: Degeneration. The Nature, Causes and Prevention of Cancer, Especially in Its Relation to Civilization and Degeneration.

JAMA. 1932;99(10):854. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740620064036

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This is another of the too numerous speculative treatises on cancer. It is based on the assumption that primitive people and earlier civilizations were relatively free from this disease, and that cancer depends largely on social conditions and personal habits. The argument wanders through the fields of sociology, economics and politics, with particularly unfavorable comments on British politics and international relationships as being part of the picture of social decadence that is at the bottom of the occurrence of cancer in the British Isles. The arguments are reinforced by illustrations from Punch and quotations from sacred and profane writers. A fair idea of the significance of the work can be obtained from the following statement from the concluding chapter: "Cancer is a painful disease inflicted upon us by a beneficent spirit or 'nature' for the purpose of warning us against the commission of some breach of law. That the fault

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