It’s only been three weeks, and I feel like I’m only biding my time until I get cancer. (And I haven’t even _touched_ Pathology yet). It’s probably the beginnings of my med student syndrome, but it’s occurring slightly different than I had thought.
Clearly I’m aware of the percentages of people who are affected with Chronic myelogenous leukemia or a lung carcinoma, but we talk about the causes so much that I’m amazed that it doesn’t happen to all of us. We’re fortunate that our bodies have developed tumor suppressor genes, and it’s probably a sign of how common tumors are in the body, but I think the average person would be surprised at how seemingly common DNA errors are (but usually repaired by a repair enzyme).
If it’s not sunlight that causes thymine dimers, it’s a chromosomal cross linkage in a stem cell, or some bacteria or virus that gets into our system and poisons us from the inside out. Or inserts its DNA into *our* DNA. Or this. Or that. There’s so many ways that we can go, and I know I’ve probably only learned about .01% of them. I’m beginning to think we’re all just biding our time until something gets us, and we all just take a certain number of calculated risks to try to maximize the “Living” part of life, while avoiding the “Death” part of life at the same time.
But we’re not completely negative in molecular biology; if it weren’t for the heaps of bacteria, we wouldn’t have the antibiotics and treatments we have today. According to Pat Brown, *human* Weapons of Mass Destruction are pretty weak and trivial compared to the bacterial arsenal. It’s a “kill or be killed” all out battlefield in the bacterial universe, fighting cell-to-cell for limited resources. And when you think about it, half of what doctors do is basically targeted killing. In oncology (cancer), you try to selective kill the cancer cells while leaving the others. Antibiotics get rid of bacteria that are making us sick; even the “fluids and rest” regimen is done in hopes of helping the body’s own natural killer cells. (In a similar vein, my other professor Gil Chu thinks we’re all just gigantic, walking universes for bacteria to sit on. Which then begs the question, is the Earth just a marble in some Higher Being’s pocket?)