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June 7, 1965

Words Which Were Weapons

Author Affiliations

Fort Knox, Ky

JAMA. 1965;192(10):919. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080230125028

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To the Editor:—  Congratulations on publishing Dr. Alexander Gode's concern about the changing imagery of illnesses (JAMA191:1063 [March 29] 1965). I guess that other physicians share my belief that billboards showing a hand gripping a sword and exhorting everyone to "fight cancer"—like cheerleaders exhorting a football team to beat the opponent—and similar advertisements are unrealistic, misleading, and financially wasteful. The message, one infers, is that if the public will only "fight" (whatever that means) hard enough and contribute enough money for the "fight" (of course, some will go to the persons engaged in the advertising), cancer will be "conquered." Diseases other than cancer also are wastefully and illogically brought to the public's attention in this way. Let us hope that articles such as Dr. Gode's will stimulate physicians to reverse the trend depicted in "Just Words."

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