Who Is Accountable When Bad Things Happen?

It struck me the other day — for no apparent reason — that it is “OK” to blame smokers for contracting cancer. After all, we all know that smoking causes cancer, and they smoked anyway, so what did you expect?

It is the only serious ailment that I’ve noticed is OK to blame people for contracting.

We have a lot of control over the inception of many cancers (and many people with lung or throat cancers have never smoked or engaged in otherwise known risky behaviors), but people get downright outraged at the suggestion that they could have done anything to change their fate.

It is possible that they couldn’t have. It’s also possible that the smoker would have contracted lung cancer anyway.

My oncologist mentioned to me at almost every follow-up visit that I was one of very few healthy-weight patients who he treated.

There is a lot of research that shows the cancer risks of being overweight (close to that of smoking!), of eating refined foods, of being sedentary, of BPA in foods (canned goods, water bottles, other plastics (steam-in-bag, microwave dinners, etc.), etc.), but we don’t blame people for their breast cancer if they compulsively eat canned soup.

Why is that? Is it just that the dangers of smoking have been known longer? Or is it that smoking is not a convenience the same way that plastics and canned foods are, for example?

Living a healthy lifestyle is no guarantee for anything — especially if you started late, like I did — but the odds are better for you living a longer, healthier life if you eat good food, not too much of it, don’t smoke, drink moderately (or not at all?), exercise regularly and don’t sit too much. Smoking is just one thing on that list.

What do you think?

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