Monday, October 5, 2015

Distinguished Gentlemen? Maybe. But not discriminating. The motorcycle industry has its head up its ass. Again.

Hey, Australia!
This post really touched a nerve with you guys. For the record, your health care system is nowhere near as massively fucked up as the U.S. system. That's where I live, and that's the audience I write for. I probably would not have felt compelled to write this, if I lived in Oz. (Curiously, I do live in Kansas City, near where the Wizard of Oz was written, but that's another story.) 

While an Australian is probably somewhat less likely to be overdiagnosed and overtreated for prostate cancer—and so the first part of this rant is less applicable to you guys—the big point, which is that motorcyclists support all kinds of charities that have nothing to do with us, while keeping our heads firmly in the sand when it comes to the medical research we should support.

Feel free to hate on my all you want, I'm all out of fucks to give, when it comes to pissing people off. 

Executive summary: The fact that motorcyclists just spent a precious weekend day raising money for prostate cancer research, instead of spinal cord injury research, is bullshit.  

Wasn’t the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride charming, on September 27? Think of all the money they raised for prostate screening. The thing is, the motorcycle industry could’ve just looked for prostate problems instead of funding high-tech screening apparatuses, because the motorcycle industry already has its head up its ass when it comes to choosing which 'charitable' causes it supports.

Don’t even get me started on the way prostate screening is part of a giant medical fraud, largely promulgated by the insane American for-profit “health care” industry (with assistance from drug companies in some places with otherwise-rational health care delivery systems, like the UK and Australia.)

According to the NIH: 
We can find microscopic evidence of prostate cancer in around half of 60-year-old men if we look hard enough. Yet only 3 in 1,000 will die from prostate cancer over the next 10 years. How can this be? Because prostate cancer isn’t just one disease: it’s a spectrum of disorders. Some forms of prostate cancer grow very rapidly and kill the men who have them. Some grow so slowly that, even without treatment, men die of something else before the cancer causes symptoms. And other forms look like cancer under the microscope but never grow at all or may regress spontaneously.

According to Dr. Otis Webb Brawley (Chief Medical and Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society):
A number of studies in the U.S. and Europe have shown that there is a type of prostate cancer that is localized to the prostate and of good prognosis, meaning it rarely progresses or causes harm if left alone.All of the organizations that set treatment guidelines based on the scientific evidence recommend that men diagnosed with this type of cancer be carefully observed. These cancers can almost always be effectively treated if found to be progressing. With careful observation, the majority of men will never need treatment and can be spared the burdens of unnecessary therapy.These low-risk forms of prostate cancer are commonly diagnosed through screening and commonly overtreated in the U.S. Indeed, the massive problem of overtreatment and the resultant large number of harms to the population is part of the reason that a number of respected organizations such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Family Physicians now recommend against routine prostate cancer screening.
So if you’re one of the dandies who took part in the DGR last month, I hope you love your motorcycle, because to be clear: Encouraging screening in the U.S. equals encouraging unnecessary and overaggressive treatment in literally hundreds of thousands of cases per year. This wastes billions of dollars that would be better spent in other ways, not to mention this: The #1 complication associated with all aggressive prostate cancer treatment is loss of sexual function. 

It's possible that these 30-something hipsters think, "Oh, by the time you're 50 or 60 you don't want to have any more sex, anyway." But I'm here to tell you that you fucking do. In fact, most 50- and 60-something guys would rather have another decade or three of sex, even if it meant risking the remote chance they'd die from prostate cancer at 70, or 80, or 90... a year or two before they died of something else. 
Thousands and thousands of American men are treated for harmless cancers—and no, ‘harmless cancer’ is not an oxymoron—every year, generating $8,000,000,000 in revenue for hospitals, which is why the for-profit health care industry loves you Distinguished Gentlemen. Of the quarter-million men who’ll be treated for prostate cancer in the U.S. this year, roughly half—whether treated surgically or with hormone therapy—will never have another orgasm. The majority of them would have lived their entire natural lives happily fucking their wives and/or girlfriends (both if they were lucky) or their boyfriends, or at least the occasional hooker. Whatever! Then they'd've died of other causes, while their prostate cancer was asymptomatic.

Like I said, I hope you really love riding your motorcycle, because if the prostate cancer business—and that’s what it is, a business, that you provided a bunch of free advertising for—has its way, your motorcycle is all you're gonna' ride.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2015 from TinMen on Vimeo.
I love this sexy video, but how ironic is it that all this is in promotion of prostate screening, which is one of the worst things that has ever happened to sex.

To be clear: I don’t really give a fuck whether you believe me, or you think I pulled these figures out of my ass. Because that long preamble was to get to a point that no motorcyclist can seriously argue against, and it’s this:

The only medical research the motorcycle industry and motorcycle community should be funding is spinal cord research. But we won’t fund it or talk about it because we’re terrified of admitting that a spinal cord injury can happen to any of us, any time we get on a motorcycle. 

Ask Wayne Rainey or Joan Lascorz, or Doug Henry or David Bailey if they worried about prostate cancer when they were racing. No way. But all of them wondered if they’d walk away from their careers when they were over, because every pro rider ponders the risks from time to time. 

So should recreational riders; almost 7% of all spinal paralysis is the result of motorcycle crashes. Considering the relatively small number of riders in total, it’s clear that being a motorcyclist dramatically increases your risk of paralysis. And here’s the thing: There’s a ton of promising research on spinal injury treatment; stem cells, electro-stimulation... we may well live to see the day when a spinal lesion doesn’t mean you’ll spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. And the three million bucks raised by you Distinguished Gentlemen could have made a real difference.

I’ve been arguing this for years now, and I’m so fucking tired of it that, at this point, I’ll just refer you to an older post if you want to read more, here.

Triumph got a ton of great PR by leveraging their involvement with the Distinguished Genitalmen’s Ride, and I get it, they’ll never put that effort into spinal cord research because it unsells bikes by reminding us all of the inherent risk and the worst-case-scenario. But I’m going to keep making this case until someone, somewhere, decides they’re going to look out for motorcyclists, instead of profits.

UPDATE: January 16, 2017

Guy Martin agrees with me.