In view of this discovery it is quite possible that arsenic may be quietly removed from the lists of "deadly poisons" in tobacco smoke that antismoking propaganda shoves in our face on a daily basis. According to a report in Nature Cell Biology, patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia can be treated with arsenic. Now scientists have solved the mystery of how arsenic can treat cancer, more treatments with fewer side effects are likely to be developed. Cancer Research UK’s Professor Ronald Hay compiled the report. He said: "Our discovery is key to understanding how we can enhance the anti-cancer properties of this poison."
After the subtitle “complex paradox” we read:
They found that arsenic helped molecules called SUMO stick onto proteins involved in leukaemia. An enzyme called RNF4 hunts down SUMO and breaks down the cancer-causing proteins. Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer information, Dr Lesley Walker, said: "Discovering which molecules are involved in this process is an exciting step forward in understanding this complex paradox how can a chemical that causes cancer also cure it?"
The mysteries of science … or those of prejudice? Arsenic, indeed most anything, can poison in sufficient dose. When he defines arsenic (an essential component of our body in small amounts) as “poison,” Professor Ronald Hay seems to forget the fundamental principle of toxicology: “There are no poisons. It’s the dose that makes the poison.”
On the other hand, Dr Lesley Walker should remember that the first definition of paradox according to Webster’s Dictionary is: “A tenet contrary to received opinion” — where “received” is the key word. Real science is not based on “received” opinions, but on the attitude of keeping the mind open to any evidence and possibility — and closed to prejudice.
We should remember this article the next time we read the endless list of the 2,500/3,000/4,000 “chemicals” in tobacco smoke (common amongst all organic substances that burn — and that we inhale — by the way) that is meant to scare us into quitting and embracing the healthist religion.
It’s the dose that makes the poison. Are the “chemicals” in active or passive tobacco smoke in ordinary circumstances of use and exposure "poisonous"? The answer is no. The empirical proof that transcends all beliefs and "authoritative" opinions is that you are alive, are reading this piece, and that you probably have smoked for the last several decades.
If all “poisons” were like tobacco smoke, the world would be a safe place indeed.