by Nicholas Stehle
April 13, 2015


If you think we’re probably far away from a cure for cancer, you’re very likely wrong. An article (warning: paywall) published in the Wall Street Journal shows that we are winning the fight against cancer.

According to the Cato Institute, we’ve made tremendous progress against the top four deadliest cancers: lung cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. Cato’s Chelsea German wrote about this in detail on April 3.

While the decline is global, the greatest gains can be seen in wealthy, developed countries like the United States. This is in part because, as advisory board member Matt Ridley notes, “In the western world we’ve conquered most of the causes of premature death that used to kill our ancestors,” and with old age comes an increased incidence of cancer, making gains against cancer more notable.

In other words, because we’ve cured so many diseases that once killed people, they’re now living long enough to actually get cancer and die from it.

Innovation and the free market are helping to propel the medical advancements leading to falling cancer death rates. Some people believe that the modern lifestyle (e.g., drinking soda) causes cancer, but those claims are uninformed–most cancer is the result of bad luck. Instead of killing us, innovation is actually saving lives.

Despite criticisms that private insurance is inherently unfair, it’s hard to argue with the high tech cures that the private sector affords. Indeed, it’s paralyzing to consider the chilling effect of government-control on medical advancements and life expectancy. The free market, coupled with innovation, is drastically reducing the death rate from many forms of cancer and is making life better for all of humanity as a result.

If the FDA gets out of the way, there are very few restraints on human progress and the human mind. As President Ronald Reagan said, “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” Well said, Mr. President.