Discussion in 'Science, Math, History and Language Studies' started by BIV, Jan 24, 2013.
Somewhat of a tangent, but what happens to world population if they cure cancer? Is that how it all ends? Not with a superflu, but a seemingly life saving discovery?
Not really. I think most cancer hits people after reproductive age, so that's not a major issue. People just live longer. Yes, that creates population pressure, but not nearly as much as something that would save lives in reproductive age people, like stopping drinking and dumbass shit that young people do.
People will still die of old age.
OTOH, the really tricky thing about cancer is that to "cure" it, we need to really understand it. If we understand it, then we also have the key to true long age. Some (all?) cancer cells are immortal. For at least some of them, the telomeres that shorten with each cell division and therefore cause senescence in cells (why we get old) simply don't shorten. Now THAT will cause a population problem, eventually. But it'll happen slowly enough that we have a decent chance of getting ahold of it, societally.
"Curing" cancers kind of a tricky thing, though. I mean, we know what cancer is. We know what causes it, at a certain level. Cancer is just a transcription error when your cells divide that the body's proofreaders miss and destroys you. Viruses can cause cancer, chemicals can cause cancer, sunlight can cause cancer, and just pure random chance when your body's trillions of cells reproduce millions of genes dozens of times a year. A computer copying files can fuck up if there's something wrong with the hard drive, wrong with the copying medium, the computer gets bumped while copying the files, there's a surge in the power line, you bring a powerful magnet close by, and just pure random chance as millions of bits are copied. Same concept. We might be able to eliminate the outside agencies that cause cancer, like viruses, chemicals, sunlight, radiation, etc. But random chance will still cause it. Until we truly develop reliable nanobots to sweep our bodies for cancer cells (which isn't really a "cure", per se), cancer will be with us.