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Alzheimer's or cancer? It's one or the other

July 13, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
It’s no secret that scientific overstudy leads to a general fear of everything.

And now, from the Why Did I Need To Know This At Age 50 Department of a laboratory near you comes this gem: If you develop Alzheimer’s, you have less of a chance of getting cancer. If you have cancer, you have less of a chance of getting Alzheimer’s.

Why is my life better because of this?

Researchers studied 25,000 residents of Milan, Italy. Mio fratellos showed the following numbers:

Alzheimer’s patients have a 43 percent lower chance of developing cancer.

Cancer patients have a 35 percent less chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

So, now that I am of that age where AARP automatically thinks I want to pay them $16 every year so that they can lobby on Capitol Hill, I have a true dilemma:

Do I want to undergo pain and suffering?

Or just fuggedaboudit?

Because I smoked. And I’m also forgetting a lot of stuff now.

And I want to know if, despite quitting the tobacco habit a few years back for good, am I still reducing my chance of cancer further each time the stinkin' 7-ton hatch on the PT Cruiser collapses unexpectedly on my head? I also routinely bang my head on the basement steps/cabinet doors/the palm of my hand. The NFL may want to study my brain in its defense against its players. “See, this guy never played football and he has the brains of a guy who played for the Packers in the 1940s. We owe you retirees nuttin’.”

I genuinely cannot remember how to tell all those great old stories that aging reporters are supposed to tell. I do not envision myself sitting around in some bar in retirement, holding court about ESOP and Wheeling-Pitt bankruptcies.

But then again, sitting around in some bar might help me to remember by smoking a cigarette, which naturally goes so well with the glass of Jack Daniel’s, which goes so well with being a writer. Which might increase my chances of liver cancer and lung cancer but dang, my memory would be a steel trap again.

My God, what if they make us choose as part of Obamacare? Is it more cost effective for taxpayers for me to get cancer or Alzheimer’s?

Who’s going to pay for this?

I never read the rest of the study of the relationship between Alzheimer’s and cancer. I started fretting over the choice. Lots of agonizing treatments or forgetting where Trinity Medical Center is. Hmmm. Tough call.

It all reminds me of a Far Side cartoon with a guy standing in hell in front of two doors with the devil jabbing him in the back with a pitchfork. The doors were marked “Damned if you do” and, of course, “Damned if you don’t.”

The devil was saying to the beleagured soul, “C’mon. C’mon. It’s one or the other.”

Thanks to this gem of a report, my doors are now marked “Alzheimer’s” and “Cancer.”


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