The Cancer Tour 2012

Cancer, the big C, is the word no one wants to hear. Yet it’s so prevalent in today’s society. I know at least eight people who are either fighting it right now or have died from its various forms just in the past three months. I attended so many funerals last month that I told my father I was going to make a t-shirt, like the ones you see for summer concert tours for bands like Aerosmith or Pink Floyd, with the times, dates and locations I’ve visited. I’d call it The Alan Zoltie World Funeral Tour.

“Hello, Detroit! Are you ready to mourn!? Woooooo!!”

That’s sad, and it’s been stressful. But the larger point is that we seem to be living in a time when cancer is running rampant. Death rates from many cancers are down, but cases seem to be up. Now, I’m aware that part of the reason is that we’re all living longer, and if you live long enough you’re bound to get cancer of one kind or another. Fine. I’d like to have cancer of the left big toe when I’m 108, please.

But there’s more to it than that. American culture is absolutely awash in chemicals, additives and sugar. Take an amble down the aisles of a local supermarket and you’ll find the truth of this on just about every product package. I call them the Aisles of Death. Now, if you really want to give yourself bad dreams, stop and read the labels. Do you understand them? The answer, more often than not, is a resounding no. Yet we continue to drop all these chemically infused products into our carts, oblivious to the damage some of the ingredients might do to our bodies.

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (among other books), has a simple rule: If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t buy it. That would eliminate half of the things in my local market! Yogurt in a tube, Hot Pockets, Tofurky…what the hell is this crap? Plus, look at the main ingredient in most of the packaged comestible products: sugar. We’re consuming sugar—sucrose, fructose, dextrose, possibly comatose—at an astounding rate. And you know what? Cancer cells LOVE sugar. They binge on it the way that Tony Montana binged on cocaine in Scarface. Is it any wonder that, when they find themselves on their own in the tissues of typical sugar-saturated Americans, cancer cells behave like college juniors on spring break in Miami? Do yourself a favor and put all that crap back on the store shelves. If it comes in a box, don’t eat it.

The other thing that makes me nervous are the things we put on our skin, including moisturizers and sunscreens (which, ironically, many people use in order to prevent cancer). Do you know when you put anything on your skin, some of it gets absorbed into your bloodstream? Do you know how many chemicals there are in these creams? Look at the labels and you’ll find a laundry list of chemicals already proven to cause harm. Parabens. BPA. Phthalates. What in hell is a phthalate? Wasn’t that an Egyptian pharaoh? Did somebody forget to buy a vowel? All I know is, we’re dumping obscene amounts of untested chemicals into our bodies, and I would be shocked if they weren’t damaging our health.

Yet we believe what we read, and read what we believe. There are cures, remedies, preventions, but nothing is 100% guaranteed to keep you from contracting cancer. Unless you’re growing your own food, making your own soap and sleeping on sheets made by the Amish, you’re soaked in flame retardants, hormone disruptors and lots of sugar. Buyer beware.

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