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Thursday, 1 January 2015

CANCER: The Best Way to Die

A leading doctor and former editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) has claimed cancer is the best way to die.

Richard Smith believes the opportunity to reflect on life before it ends is important and urges charities and the medical world to "stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer".

In a blog published in The BMJ, the doctor wrote that while most people tell him they would prefer a sudden death, he thinks that is very hard on the families of the deceased.

"The long, slow death from dementia may be the most awful as you are slowly erased, but then again when death comes it may be just a light kiss," he wrote.

"Death from organ failure - respiratory, cardiac, or kidney - will have you far too much in hospital and in the hands of doctors.

Lifestyle Factors: Around 134,000 cases diagnosed each year are preventable. This is almost half of cases diagnosed in the UK annually. Forty percent of cancers are down to factors we have the power to change

Smoking: The most important lifestyle factor, it accounts for 23% of cancers in men and 15.6% in women, which is nearly one in five cancers

Occupation And Environment: Overall, one in 25 cancers are linked to occupation. Working with substances like asbestos is especially risky. Excessive sun exposure is another high-risk factor

Diet: Lack of fruit and vegetables. Too much alcohol, Red and processed meat and too much salt

Other Causes: Infections and radiation, over-exposure to the sun or sunbeds, a lack of exercise and hormones

Lifestyle Factors: Around 134,000 cases diagnosed each year are preventable. This is almost half of cases diagnosed in the UK annually. Forty percent of cancers are down to factors we have the power to change

"So death from cancer is the best... You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.

"This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky."

The 62-year-old, who is chairman of the board of directors of medical smartphone app Patients Know Best, continued: "But stay away from overambitious oncologists.

"And let's stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death."

His comments were criticised by the charity Cancer Research.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Of course we are all going to die, but cancer takes far too many people far too young.

"It's only by being ambitious in our research that we can give people a measure of choice, and the more we know about cancer the more we can give people options.

"My patients are very clear about when they do and when they don't want treatment, and they would much prefer me to be ambitious than nihilistic."

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