Conspiracy theories are everywhere. Some (who really shot JFK??) have been around for decades and may never be totally solved. Some are brand new (did someone kill Justice Scalia?). Some make a little bit of sense (did Marilyn Monroe REALLY commit suicide?) and some, well, don’t (there are half alien half human beings all around us!).
I don’t mind a good urban legend every once in a while but sometimes ideas that seem just too crazy to me actually get some traction. Nowhere is this clearer than in the areas of science and health. One of the biggest is that “big Pharma” has the cure for cancer but won’t share it because they would lose so much money. This is just plain silly for several reasons, including that drug companies are far from the only ones researching cancer treatments, and the insane amount of money any company would could cure cancer would make! People tend to forget that curing cancer wouldn’t mean no one would ever GET cancer ever again, it would only make it easier to treat.
But the most compelling reason why this conspiracy theory falls apart comes from understanding what cancer is. At its simplest, its cells growing abnormally. It can be any kind of cell- a skin cell, a liver cell, a bone marrow cell, etc. There are over 200 distinct types of cancer currently documented and almost certainly more yet to be discovered. Saying anything is a cure for “cancer” would be like walking into an auto parts store and asking for a replacement headlight for “car”. It doesn’t work. What model of car it is? What year was it made? Do you need a left or a right one?
It would certainly be wonderful if there was a “magic bullet” that would make cancer as scary as the common cold. And there are certainly plenty of folks willing to sell you all kinds of lotion and potions they claim will do just that. But, just like those people who laughed at the snake oil salesmen of the past, an informed consumer will always know that when something sounds too good to be true, it is.