The stigma of lung cancer — do smokers “deserve” lung cancer? (No!)


A very interesting opinion piece that I can personally relate to, about the continuing stigma of lung cancer.

I have on a number of occasions no matter how incredibly hard I try to bend over backward to not attack smokers or act superior to smokers either online or in real life, been accused of being down on smokers. I think part of this is because many smokers deep down inside put up with constant stigma over their smoking and frankly, get understandably defensive about it, because hey, we all have some bad habits and none of us are perfect.

Anyway, that stigma also applies to lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most deadly form of cancer; more people die of lung cancer in the U.S. than the next four types of cancer — combined. Smoking is in fact the primary cause of lung cancer — about 85 percent of the people who get lung cancer are either smokers or former smokers.

But, that also means that 15 percent of those people with lung cancer are nonsmokers (20 percent of women who get lung cancer are nonsmokers). Lung cancer not only has an environmental component, it has a genetic component. There is a reason why only 10 percent of smokers die of lung cancer. It’s bad luck+a bad habit.

Dr. Lecia V. Sequist, (a medical oncologist at  Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, an associate professor of medicine Harvard Medical School. and a member of the LUNGevity Foundation Scientific Advisory Board), writes on, about the stigma of lung cancer and the mentality of that people who die of lung cancer “did it to themselves.” The stigma has resulted in a lot of grant monies and donations going toward finding cures for cancers other than lung cancer.

It’s something I can relate to because I have been very guilty of hearing about someone dying of lung cancer, and then immediately blurting out, “were they a smoker?” I really, really try not to do that anymore.

Dr. Sequist writes:

Tell a friend or colleague that your aunt just found out she has lung cancer. Almost always the response will be, “Did she smoke?” Then tell someone else that your aunt just found out she has breast cancer, or colon cancer, or any other type of cancer you can think of. This time the response will be pure sympathy, without any blame attached.

I don’t think people necessarily do this for a bad reason. I think it’s a normal reaction of “well it couldn’t happen to me … I don’t smoke.”

This is interesting, according to to Dr. Sequist, (and I have never seen these numbers before and am still digesting them) 60 percent of new lung cancer cases are among nonsmokers and former smokers — not current smokers. Wow, that a high number (remember that 15 percent number I quoted earlier). What that tells me is a lot of people are acknowledging that smoking is really bad for them, quitting, and then 10 years later being diagnosed with lung cancer. That is one of the cruelties of lung cancer. Even if you do the right thing and quit, your risk of lung cancer decreases … but it is still higher than a person who never smoked.

And as far as how smoking is affecting funding, this paragraph from Dr. Sequist:

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with lung cancer has translated to a massive inequality in research funding. When analyzing the combined 2012 cancer research dollars granted by federal organizations, for every woman who dies of breast cancer, more than $26,000 in federal research funding is devoted to breast cancer research. But for every woman who dies of lung cancer, just over $1,000 federal dollars are invested. The difference is staggering.

So, basically breast cancer is receiving 26 times more funding per cancer case than lung cancer among women. Wow.

As far as the attitude that people who smoke and die and lung cancer getting what they deserve, all I can say is how is your glass house? Are you overweight? Do you drink? Smoke pot? Take prescription drugs? Last perfect person died 2,000 years ago. (Even on this article, there is some snot-nosed troll spending hours pissing on smokers with lung cancer. One of the reasons I don’t comment on CNN stories.)

I watched my dad slowly drown in his own bodily fluids at the age of 49. I can’t imagine a worse way to go, honestly. No one deserves that. No one. Not Adolph Hitler, not anyone. So, no, no one “deserves” lung cancer.

Another reason to quit smoking? It really does make you look older

8C9523350-131028-smoking-twins-02-hmed-1030a.blocks_desktop_medium Twins study shows the aging effects of smoking.

This is really interesting. A remarkable study looking at smoking and non-smoking twin graphically displays how smoking makes people look older. 79 twins were studied as part of this project, one of whom had smoked at least 5 years longer than the other.

The photos (non-smoking twins on the left, smoking twins on the right) show how the smoking twins are more wrinkled. Some of these images are really startling.


Why does this happen? Simply, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen going to the skin.

So if lung cancer, COPD and heart disease (and impotence) aren’t enough reasons to quit smoking … think about this … you will be more wrinkled.


Jesus, dude, lighten up — man brandishes gun after being told he can’t smoke

pissed off smoker

Jesus, dude, is that cigarette really worth sitting in a jail cell? Chill out!

Some guy standing in front of the Atascadero State Hospital was told he couldn’t smoke and he responded by brandishing a gun in his belt. He’s now cooling his ass in a jail cell on a $50,000 bond. Smart move.

Then again, Atascadero IS a state hospital, so it might have its share of nuts hanging out in front.

This is why most smokers don’t get hassled. You never know if there’s a real asshole standing behind that cigarette.

(I’ve twice seen people throw hissy fits for being asked not to smoke. Many years ago. One, in a bar clearly marked as nonsmoking, she was told, “sorry, no smoking,” and she screamed “FUCK YOU” at the bartender and stomped out. That was about 10 years ago. Ahhh, the good ol’ days before people got used to smoking bans …)


Study: Yeah, right, tobacco industry, candy-flavoured cigars aren’t geared toward kids


The Centers for Disease Control just released a report, the first of its kind, on these little candy-flavoured cigars (candy flavoured cigarettes are now illegal, but candy-flavoured cigars are perfectly legal — that makes sense.)

“They’re really cheap, and they’re really sweet, and they have an obvious appeal to kids,” says Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “They’re not your grandfather’s cigar.”

Many of these cigars have flavours like cherry, strawberry, chocolate, apple and even bubble gum. Yeah, some 50-year-old 30-year smoker is really going to buy bubble gum flavoured cigars. These are all about appealing to kids, make no mistake about it.


According to this 2011 study, just released this week, by the CDC, one in 10 teens say they have smoked these “flavoured cigars.”

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the new data “disturbing.”

“Flavored little cigars are basically a deception,” Frieden says. “They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke.”

“We know if they were cigarettes, what they’re doing now would be banned,” Frieden says. “If they were cigarettes, there would be a much greater awareness of their harm. But because they’re seen as somehow different, they’re getting another generation of kids hooked on tobacco.”

What’s interesting is that there is virtually no difference between a cigarette and a “little cigar.”

“What makes a cigar a cigar is that it has some tobacco in the paper. Little cigars — there’s just enough tobacco in that paper to make them cigars,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association. “They really are cigarettes in cigar clothing.”

So just a bit of tobacco leaf in the paper makes a cigarette a cigar, that’s all it takes. So candy-flavoured cigarettes: illegal. Candy-flavoured cigarettes with a tiny bit of tobacco leaf in the paper: legal. Go figure.

dick nixon
Not actually cigars. Just thought it was funny

He’s the truly bothersome part. Little cigar sales have more than tripled since 1997. Again, the tobacco industry is extremely skilled at finding ways around federal regulations and little cigars are their latest little trick to get around the ban on candy-flavoured cigarettes.

Now, the FDA banned candy-flavoured cigarettes a few years ago. They need the next step to ban these little sugary kid magnets. This one is a no-brainer.


Haruko’s baseball extravaganza 2!

Fear the Beards

AP Red Sox Beards

Hah, OK, now that I’ve written this, I’m sure to have put the jinx on the Scruffy Sox. I always do. I’m bad luck.

It won’t be the Red Sox’s scruffy beards that will get them deep into the postseason, though they are cute, sort of. Well, most of the beard are kind of ugly. I think Mike Napoli looks a little bit like Leonidis in “300.” The only one who really has an attractive beard is Shane Victorino, I think.

The Red Sox weren’t supposed to be any good this year; they were supposed to be in a rebuilding year. In fact, this team was built on a bunch of one-year free agent contracts, so next year’s Red Sox won’t look anything like this team, especially considering that Jacoby Ellsbury will likely leave as a free agent. Victorino is the only guy signed for more than 2 years (and he was signed for just three years).

Looking at this year’s team and why they were so much better than last year’s team. Obviously, their pitching was a lot better. The Red Sox really took off when they got Jake Peavy, who went 4-1 down the stretch. Clay Buchholz also had a remarkable year at 12-1 (.923 winning percentage) and Jon Lester bounced back after an awful season to go 15-8. Even Ryan Dempster and John Lackey, who had losing records both had good ERAs.


And the Red Sox weren’t lucky, either. David Ortiz, Ellsbury and Victorino all got hurt at various times of the year. And they lost their No.1  closer, then lost their No. 2 closer and were looking at a total disaster in their bullpen, but they found a diamond in the rough by making Koji Uehera into a closer. He went 4-1 and had an ERA of 1.09 with 21 saves.

But, I think it was a lot of scary balance up and down the lineup. The Red Sox force pitchers to throw a lot of pitches, draw a lot of walks and usually get into other team’s bullpens by the fifth or sixth inning — even if the opposing pitcher is having a good game. And most team’s bullpens are just not that good, and that’s where the Red Sox have been doing a lot of their damage this year.


Here is an interesting and scary statistic about the Scruffy Sox. The Red Sox are not a particularly powerful team — they hit 178 home runs, but they had 8 guys who hit 10 or more home runs and 11 guys who hit 9 or more home runs. 11. There’s only 9 players on the field at a time!

And on top of 11 guys with 9 or more home runs, they had 11 guys with 40 or more RBIs and 7 guys who hit between .294 and .309. Talk about balance. Even back in the steroid days, teams didn’t have 11 guys with 9 or more home runs. And a couple of these guys — Mike Carp and Daniel Nava — were career minor leaguers who never got a chance before to play in the Majors. That’s team baseball.

Look at these remarkable stats. Other than Ortiz, none of these stats are great, but incredibly consistent:

David Ortiz          .309 30 103

Daniel Nava         .303 12 66

Dustin Pedroia      .301 9 84

Jacoby Ellsbury    .298 9 53

Michael Carp        .296 9 43

Shane Victorino    .294 15 61

Jarrod Saltalamacchia .273 14 65

Mike Napoli           .259 23 92

Stephen Drew        .253 13 67

Johnny Gomes       .247 13 52

Will Middlebrooks  .227 17 49

300-game winner update

Well, unfortunately, no 300-game candidate came out of the blue to make me look good this year. It looks like Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon might be right. (Remember, I took offence to Kenheiser and Wilbon saying there would NEVER be a 300-game winner again). All the 300-game candidates had bad seasons this year and are making Wilbon and Kornheiser look good and make me look bad.

Here are the candidates:

.                                            2013                  ERA        Total wins           Age

CC Sabathia                       14-13                    4.78       205                       33

Tim Hudson                        8-7                        3.97       205                       38

Roy Halladay                     4-5                        6.82       203                       36

Mark Beurhle                     12-10                    4.15       186                       35

Justin Verlander                13-12                    3.46       137                       31

Felix Hernandez                12-10                    3.04       110                       28

So, out of that group, Sabathia still has a very valid chance of getting to 300. He is still only 33, and if he stays healthy, could pitch another 8 seasons. He would only have to average 12 wins a year over 8 years to get to 300. But, look at Sabathia’s ERA — 4.78. He might be losing his stuff.

Hudson was having a good year and probably would have won 13-14 games, but he broke his ankle, and I think that ends his chances to get to 300. Halladay had his second straight injury-plagued year and might be near the end of his career. Beurhle is too mediocre of a pitcher to get to 300. He hasn’t won more than 13 games since 2008.

Verlander had an off-year for him, but at 31, he is still young enough to do it. He’d have to pitch another 11 injury-free years and average exactly 15 wins a year. The same with Hernandez, he’s still young. But, look at his numbers last year. He went 12-10 and 9 no-decisions and had a very solid ERA of 3.04. Why? Because he was pitching for a terrible team that went 71-91 (and let’s face it, the only reason Seattle won 71 games is because they got to play 19 games against 51-111 Houston). For a lot of teams, he would have won 15-20 games. I said at the beginning of the year, Hernandez will never get anywhere near 300 wins pitching for a bad team like Seattle his whole career.

Todd Helton a Hall of Famer?

Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all retired this year. What are their chances for the Hall of Fame?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Colorado RockiesWell, Mariano will get in on his first ballot and might get in unanimously. He was simply the best closer in the history of baseball, and his record of 652 saves might never be broken — you’d have to average 42 saves a year for 16 years to get there (even though we think saves are a vastly overrated stat).

Pettitte is a little tougher. He won 20 games twice, won more than 10 games 16 times, won 256 games and has the all-time record of 19 wins in the postseason. I would say he probably gets in the Hall of Fame except for one thing — his admission of doing HGH. That’s usually a dealbreaker with HOF voters. I think that will hurt him a lot in the balloting.

Now, Helton is someone I’ve heard very little buzz about for the Hall of Fame, but he put together some remarkable numbers over the course of his career. Helton batted .316 for his career, had an outstanding on-base percentage of .414 and OPS of .953. He hit 367 home runs and drove in 1,406 runs, and had 2,519 hits. Six times he hit more than 30 home runs and 8 times he had more than 90 RBIs, and he batted over. 300 12 times. He also won one batting title (.372) and three gold gloves. Add to that 11 times with 37 or more doubles and 592 doubles all time.

Helton is 26th all-time in on-base percentage, 20th all time in OPS and 16th all-time in doubles.

Wow, that is all a pretty darn good argument for the Hall of Fame. But one thing that will hurt him is he played during the steroid era, and that will cost him votes. Just playing during the steroid era will cost players votes (ask Craig Biggio). Plus, he played in Colorado, which has a tendency to inflate statistics. (He did have an embarrassing DUI arrest this year. But, DUIs don’t keep guys out of the HofF.)

Helton won’t get in on the first ballot, but I think short of direct evidence of steroid use, he deserves to go into the Hall of Fame, as does Biggio. You can’t keep guys out purely because of the era in which they played.