The Rousseau theory of cancer

Simply stated, it is that

in a virtuous state of nature, man would never get it.

This, says Dalrymple,

raises the question of what man would die from in such a state.

While we’re on the subject of cancer, Dalrymple remembers that when his mother had it,

she demanded that after her operation she be told everything. She had a poor prognosis (the likelihood of recurrence and death within a year was great), and the surgeon, sizing her up, advised against a full disclosure of the facts.

She lived another 20 years, and

I have little doubt that the surgeon was absolutely right and humane in his advice, which was to mislead, if not actually to deceive, her.

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