November 04, 2005

Cancer: why no cure yet?

My wife’s friend Sylvie just lost her father to cancer. Every time I walk out of such a Shiva house, I think of how obscene it is that Science put men on the moon 30 years ago but still fails to find a cure for this terrestrial killer.

But just last month Merck cheered the world by announcing a major breakthrough. The development of a vaccine that will be 100% effective in preventing the most common cases of cervical cancer which kills 300,000 women every year.

Head of the research team is Israeli-born Dr. Eliav Barr, originally from Haifa.

This sets me thinking: What are the chances of a Jew discovering the ultimate cure for cancer?

Well, statistics would suggest it is very likely indeed.

Of all the Nobel prizes issued since 1901, Jews have bagged 28% of the world total in Physiology & Medicine, and 19% of the Chemistry prizes. Not bad for our people who make up less than one quarter of one percent of the population. And lest you say that most of the world’s population never went to school, the figures are even more impressive for the USA. Although Jews make up only 2 percent of the US population, they won 42% of the US prizes in Physiology & Medicine, and 27% of the Chemistry prizes.

Most of those prizes were awarded for breakthrough discoveries. And it would seem that if there were double the number of Jews in the world, the number of prizes and the breakthroughs they spoke for would swell exponentially.

Were it not for the Nazi holocaust, there would have been 6 million more of us in 1945. Not just ordinary Jews, but European Jews who – by educational standards – were for the most part the crème de la crème of all our people. If they had lived and their children been allowed to grow up with the same educational privileges, the Nobel prize statistics leave no doubt in my mind that one of their number would have found the cure for cancer long ago. The same could probably be said for many other of the world’s problems, including the discovery of an alternative to oil which has fuelled much of the terrorism we see today and the anti-viral solutions we need to combat the threat of a world flu pandemic.

Instead most of the world turned a blind eye to the extermination of European Jewry. And 60 years ago, in a crematorium somewhere in Poland, the cure for cancer most likely went up in smoke.


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