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Vitamin C and Cancer: Medicine or Politics?

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Vitamin C and Cancer: Medicine or Politics?

English | 1991 | ISBN: 0312052421 | PDF | 277 pages | 33.52 MB

The history of the development of vitamin C as a treatment for cancer, its championing by Linus Pauling, America's most famous living scientist, and its rebuttal by the American medical establishment makes an interesting story and one which affects the lives of millions. It provides an example and model of the way in which the scientific assessment of therapies can never be neutral and objective, but is inevitably an implicitly political process. "Vitamin C and Cancer" draws on the prolific and far-flung correspondence of Linus Pauling, manuscripts, newspaper reports and journal articles to paint a vivid picture of the politics of therapeutic evaluation. By comparing the medical assessments of vitamin C with those of two other conventional cancer treatments, the highly toxic 5-fluorouacil and interferon, the wonder drug of the 80s, Evellen Richards goes on to show that the clinical trial, no matter how tightly it is organized and evaluated, can neither guarantee objectivity nor definitively resolve disputes over contentious treatments. Richards' account calls into question the heavy economic and social investment in ever more tightly organized and rigorously controlled clinical trials. Rather than pursue the unattainable goal of neutral and objective assessment, Richards contends that it would be better to learn to live with the reality of the political and social assessment of treatments. "Vitamin C and Cancer" concludes by indicating some of the ways in which this might be done. This book offers an original and controversial approach to the analysis of the production and evaluation of contemporary medical knowledge.

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