The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 49 – Cancer
May 2, 2019
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You have cancer. What’s up?
Rick Rosner: Just a little, just a whiff of cancer, I have three-millimetre tumour poking out of my left kidney. That they’re going to take out of me using a fancy robot in two and a half or three weeks.
In the future, a lot of disease – some crazy high percentage of disease – will be much less fatal than it is now because it will be caught super early because there will be much better technology to look inside of you.
Certain cancers, including kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, are super dangerous because they are generally not caught until they are stage 4, a lot of the cancers detected when they start causing pain or hurting you.
They are bad because by the time they get that big, then you’re fucked. So, my advice, I decided about my father-in-law who died of pancreatic. It was caught in stage 4 and started hurting him.
I thought, “You know, there is technology available today to check this shit out.” So, I had my doctor run some blood tests on pancreas and kidney. They came out a little high, probably because I work out obsessively, which leaves a bunch of waste products from my torn muscles.
It led to my doctor doing my ultrasound. It led to finding the lump on my kidney. But it is not associated probably with my high numbers. It was caught incidentally and early enough that the only person freaking out about it is me and my wife.
But the doctors were all very casual about it. They were not the ones with the tumour. The takeaway from this is that there is existing technology to look inside yourself even without symptoms.
So, do this, even though, it is not commonly done. With the caveat, do not get a CT scan, if you go and ask to a look inside you, the easiest is CT scan, which hits you with a huge amount of radiation.
So, particularly if you’re under 40, do not do it, if you’re 50 or 55 or older, and if you cannot get anything but a CT scan, then it is probably okay because the deal is they say up to 2% of the cancers people get may be from CT scans.
Which give you as much radiation as standing 2 kilometres away from ground zero at Hiroshima, it may not kill you instantly, but may cause cancer down the road 30 years later. If you’re 50 years old, it means that, maybe, you get cancer at 70, 80, 85.
You can die from other stuff before then. Also, cancer might be more solved in 20 or 30 years old. If you’re 30 years old, do not get a CT scan for bullshit reasons; if you get hit in the head with a softball, that’s fine. Because your life is definitely in danger.
Anyway, you can get an MRI if possible, starting in your cancer years, which can be 50, 55 years old. It means that in America you will need fancy medical coverage. Or you will pay $4,000 or something.
If you have a doctor who will play ball, or if you have aberrant blood numbers and are lucky like me, and if you have decent medical coverage, the takeaway is simply to take a look inside your body starting in middle age because you might accidentally catch something.
Up to 2/3rds of the kidney cancers caught at my stage are caught incidentally, as was mine, somebody has something unrelated or vaguely related or is getting shit checked out for giggles, and then they catch it.
Rosner: I am going to have it taken out of me. There are so many different types of cancers. My understanding of cancer is that we only use, maybe, 2% of our genome. You probably know better than me. Then a bunch is useless junk.
Jacobsen: It is a complicated question. It is late. There are questions about being junk while also not being junk.
Rosner: We have all these extra options with all this stuff that isn’t expressed as we grow and live. As you get genetic mutations, some of these – for one thing – that get expressed will act differently if mutated.
It may also instruct some of these tools that are in our tool chest to be used that aren’t normally used. So, cells are fucking up all the time. But it is a really relatively rare phenomenon that a bunch of junk will get put together like a Rube Goldberg device in one of your cells that makes it functional but bad.
It turns it into a machine that is not healthy but still is able to live and reproduce itself. It is just because so many cells fuck up over time. Because we have maybe 1 trillion cells, but that sounds like way too big of a number.
You may have hundreds of thousands of cells going bad every day. But when they go bad, they die. Occasionally, one may turn into a Rube Goldberg machine. It is one of the many cancers that you can get, but it is just a malfunctioning machine.
There are so many ways for cells to go bad that each kind of cell has its statistically more likely ways to go bad, which means that some cancers are very killable via various kinds of chemotherapy.
It turns out that kidney cancer not so killable via chemo and radiation. However, there is always stuff if you go online. There are alternative therapies, which are almost always bullshit or relatively ineffective.
But there’s this semi-new field called senolytics. They are substances that help your body kill fucked up cells, senile cells. Your body can clean them out. But as you age, your body has more trouble doing it.
They are bad. They consume resources and overly inflame your body. Your body becomes increasingly unable to clean out these senile cells. The senolytics help your body kill these fucked up cells
It seems like the most effective standalone substance is this stuff called fisetin, which is a flavonoid. I don’t know what that means. It is derived from plants. It is found in the highest concentration in strawberries. But you cannot eat enough fucking strawberries to have a therapeutic effect.
It activates or interferes with a bunch of things that act like a dull Swiss Army knife. It kills fucked up cells with limited efficacy in half of a dozen different ways. It is the most effective standalone senolytic.
There are a bunch of papers on it, written by actual doctors and researchers as opposed to a bunch of crazy bullshit that you find on the internet. It has been shown to be effective in vitro, which is that they take cells out of rats or people and put them in a test tube with this stuff.
The fisetin fucks up stuff in test tubes. It fucks up things in vivo in rats. They inject them or have them eat the stuff, and also anecdotally in people. So, I have been taking shit loads of it, which gives me brutal diarrhea.
Rosner: I shit on the floor the day before yesterday. It means that I am eating ramen, which is delicious but bad for you. I eat pastries. Because I believe this gets the food out of me before the digestion is done.
Anyway, the takeaway here is that there are a bunch of drugs that are borderline effective as senolytics, and also that have clinically been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting cancer.
In my cancer, I was taking like 5 of these things already. Then I got the cancer. So, they’re not that effective. The takeaway is to go online and look at what stuff might be helpful in reducing the probability that you get cancer like Metformin, resveratrol.
Although, resveratrol is not as effective as Metformin because your liver turns it into something else before it can get into your bloodstream, quercetin, and so on. There are a bunch of stuff – curcumin, turmeric. Same name for the orange stuff. Do not live like an asshole, on cigarettes and donuts – go online and educate yourself about preventative supplements and lifestyles, and diets.
If you can live for the next 10 years, more and more cancer is getting solved. Nixon announced the War on Cancer in something like 1973. It was 46 years ago. Progress has been slow. The reduction in the death rate from cancer gets down to 1.1% per year.
But that thing is going to hockey stick shortly, as more and more specialized gene therapies come online. So, cancer might be 40% solved now. That is, if you get cancer now, depending on how early it is caught and what kind it is, you probably have overall a 40% chance of cure or long remission.
I am guessing 10 years from now that rate will be up in the 70s, even up in the 90s 20 years from now. The longer that you can go without cancer because 1 out of 8 or 1 out of 3 will get cancer.
Anyway, that’s enough about that.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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