Jews As Race Neither Immune nor Prone to Cancer Diseases

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

There is no truth whatever in the suggestion that Jews as a race are immune to cancer. The opposite view, that Jews are especially prone to cancer diseases finds but little support.

These opinions were expressed by Dr. M. Sourasky before the International Cancer Congress in session here, in a paper read by the London Jewish physician today.

The paper is the result of a study concerning cancer diseases among Jews carried on by Dr. Sourasky in six European capitals.

The incidence of cancer among Jews of any city follows closely that obtaining among their fellow-citizens. There is a closer relationship between the Jews and non-Jews of any particular city than between the Jews of different cities in their relation to these diseases. Jews as a race neither enjoy immunity nor suffer from predisposition to cancer. They show the same tendencies towards a higher or lower incidence of cancer as the larger communities in which they reside, Dr. Sourasky concluded on the basis of his investigation.

The study made by Dr. Sourasky however discloses that Jewish groups in European cities have different tendencies with regard to the various cancer diseases. The incidence of cancer in the sex organs appears to be less frequent among Jews, while gastro-intestinal cancer shows a greater frequency among Jews than among non-Jews. This difference however is not to be ascribed to a racial character but to the specific conditions, some of them emanating from the religious observances under which the Jewish groups live, Dr. Sourasky stated.

Cancer of the tongue among Jews has a few incidence. This is due to the fact that this disease is often of syphilitic origin and syphilis is decidedly less common and was still less common in the past among Jews than among non-Jews. While cancer of the sex organs among males amounts to between one and two percent of all cancer diseases among non-Jewish men, not a single case of this kind has been recorded for Jews. In the opinion of Dr. Sourasky this is due not to the racial characteristics of the Jews but to the ancient rite of circumcision which the Jews have in common with the Mohammedans. Circumcized Mohammedans similarly show a low incidence or complete absence of cancer of the sex organs.

The Jewish religious laws concerning the purity of feminine life are viewed as a beneficial factor in reducing to a low number the cases of cancer diseases among Jewish women. An interesting study of this situation is presented in the paper on the basis of figures secured in the principal European cities. Dr. Sourasky concluded that “whatever might have been the origin or the philosophy underlying the Mosaic code, we have to recognize the fact that in its operation it supplies a highly satisfactory sexual hygiene.”

It is seen that the Mosaic code, with its insistence on sexual hygiene cannot but be beneficial to the local organs and it is possible that it results in a lesser disposition to chronic infections and chronic irritation among Jewish women, he declared.

As to the higher incidence of gastro-intestinal cancer among Jews, no explanation can be advanced, Dr. Sourasky being of the opinion that the supposition that there is among Jews a racial predisposition to such disease is not warranted.

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