Is This Better than Spending Money on Cures?

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Scott: When you talk about all the money and energy that goes into finding that one cure for cancer, doesn't it seem to make more sense to put more energy into prevention in the first place?

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez: It's always better to prevent a disease than to treat it.  For example, when I was growing up, polio was this great, terrible thing, you'd end up in inon lungs and you'd be paralyzed the rest of your life.  Well they found out the best way to deal with polio is just to keep the... it was fecal, oral transmission, basically.  If you had polluted water and drank it, that's how you could get polio.  And if you had clean water supplies, polio would go away.  It's a simple way of getting rid of polio.  You didin't have to spend billions on vaccines... well that's what they did anyway.  But having clean water would've been simpler.  

And a lot of public health problems from the 19th century, when cities became really big and they didn't have good sewer systems, really were preventable by bringing in simple public health measures.

You know, scurvy, you could spend a trillion dollars trying to figure out the molecular mechanisms of scurvy.  It's much easier, you know, take some vitamin c, you don't have to worry about it.  It's easier to prevent scurvy, well it's easy to treat with vitamin c, but you can develop all kinds of drugs and you can develop whole schools of thought on the molecular mechanisms of scurvy... why bother?  Just take some vitamin c, you don't have to worry about scurvy.  It's always easier to prevent something.  I mean scurvy was like cancer in the 16th, 17th centuries, I mean tens of thousands of sailors were dying from scurvy.  It was a major public health problem.  And there were researchers at universities trying to figure out you know the basic science of scurvy.  And they'd say all you have to do is take some oranges.  And everyone thought that was too simple.  It took the British Admiralty 40 years before they would finally accept James Lind's work on scurvy.  He did the first work showing you could reverse scurvy with vitamin, they didn't know vitamin c but with citrus fruit.  

So, yes, prevention is always easier than treatment.  In fact if people at well, I'd be out of business, great!  Then I could do something else. 


Dr. Nick Gonzalez in this 2012 interview, discusses the time and money that often ultimately gets wasted while searching for cures when something that's often more simple can be done. Find out what that is and why he says it's often easier than finding cures.

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