Leading Doctor: Curing Cancer Is A Waste Of Money – It’s The Best Way To Die

Richard Smith, a doctor who spent 13 years as former editor of the British Medical Journal, has recently published a controversial piece encouraging people to ‘stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer’ – because it’s an ideal way to end someone’s life.

In a post for BMJ, Smith starts by quoting filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Buñuel had written about death in 1982, a year before he died. He wrote:

“An even more horrible death is one that’s kept at bay by the miracles of modern medicine, a death that never ends. In the name of Hippocrates, doctors have invented the most exquisite form of torture ever known to man: survival.”

Using the above statement to support his thoughts, Smith explains why he doesn’t think further cancer research or cures should be invested in. According to Smith, cancer is superior to other causes of death because it allows people time to say goodbye to their loved ones and make peace with their time on earth. Smith also asserted that by allowing the medical community to cure diseases and cancers, people die of slower, more painful causes.

Smith wrote that death can happen four ways, excluding suicide:

“Sudden death; the long, slow death of dementia; the up and down death of organ failure, where it’s hard to identify the final going down, tempting doctors to go on treating too long; and death from cancer, where you may bang along for a long time but go down usually in weeks.”

Photo Credit: Calleamanecer / Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Calleamanecer / Wikimedia Commons

Smith’s argument for death by cancer is that while most people say they believe sudden death is ideal, it’s very difficult for the families afterward. As for the other alternatives, Smith says:

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

Here’s why Smith favors cancer:

“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 favorite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.

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

If Smith had said this to cancer patients, the majority of them would likely disagree. Since Smith’s post was published, several cancer specialists have come forward in objection, stating that cancer patients suffer tremendously. Professor Peter Johnson, the chief clinician for Cancer Research UK, 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.”

Many others outside the medical community have been outraged and offended by Smith’s post. One reader wrote:

“Watching my mother rapidly ravaged by cancer a few years ago, never ever did I think it was the best way for her or us. A chance to say goodbye? Her final weeks were made up of endless nurses visits, her anxiety and fear of how it would end, deterioration and paranoia.”

Anyone who has been affected by cancer can see that Smith’s statements are ignorant and insensitive. It’s extremely irresponsible for someone within the medical community to say cancer shouldn’t be cured and that spending money on research to extend patients’ lives isn’t worth it.

Feature image courtesy of Calleamanecer / Wikimedia Commons.