Medicine And Books

Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know and Don't Know about Cancer

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7010.959 (Published 07 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:959
  1. John Roberts

    Robert N Proctor Basic Books, $25, pp 356 ISBN 0 465 02756 3

    Medicine is a political science, according to an apocryphal comment by Rudolph Virchow, the father of modern pathology. But perhaps even more than medicine, cancer is a political science.

    That is the thesis of Cancer Wars, a survey of what might cause cancer, written by Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Pennsylvania State University. Proctor is well known for his excellent analyses of German doctors' role in the Holocaust.

    In Cancer Wars he sets out to describe how political arguments over a scientific issue create a debate in which each participant speaks a different language. Proctor's central question is, “How much evidence do …

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