Several years before German scientists linked tobacco use to cancer, an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University was fixing the blame on smoking. Joseph C. Bloodgood probably would be more famous in the annals of cancer research if he hadn’t also pointed his finger at “ragged and dirty teeth.” The Minneapolis Tribune covered his 1922 speech in Minneapolis:

Hope Extended
Cancer Victim
By Bloodgood

Early Operations Needed,
Johns Hopkins Surgeon
Tells Mass Meeting.

Use of Tobacco and Dirty
Teeth Blamed for
Many Cases.

  Dr. Joseph Bloodgood
Cancer is a disease of ignorance and, in some cases, of dirt, Dr. Joseph C. Bloodgood, associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins university told 1,200 persons at the Auditorium last night. His address officially opened the observance of Cancer week in Minneapolis.
Knowledge of the beginnings of cancer is still incomplete, Dr. Bloodgood said. He urged a campaign of education as the only method to eradicate the disease.
‘No Cure for Cancer – or Typhoid.’
“The medical profession puts its cards on the table,” he continued, “for there is no cure for cancer in its late stages. Neither is there a cure for typhoid fever nor for yellow fever, yet these are being wiped off the earth.”
The use of tobacco, and ragged teeth, were cited by Dr. Bloodgood as causes of cancer in the mouth.
“I should like to see cancer develop in a clean mouth and one which is under the care of a good dentist,” he said. “With the rarest exceptions, 95 per cent of the cases of cancer of this sort are found in the mouths of people with ragged and dirty teeth.
Danger Combination Cited.
“A person may have ragged teeth and abstain from tobacco and not have cancer or, one may have clean teeth and use tobacco and still escape the disease. But the combination of the dirty teeth and tobacco is dangerous.
“Proof of this may be found in the fact that women seldom have cancer because they do not smoke. Cancer of the mouth is preventable, and I believe we are making some progress in its eradication. At present, I’m looking into more mouths than ever before and seeing less cancer than ever before. I believe that in 10 years there will be no cancer of this sort.
Operation Declared Simple.
  Lotus Coffman
“Operation for cancer in its early stages is comparatively simple and I think the day is coming when a patient will be as willing to get on an operating table as to get on a merry-go-round.”
“There is but one treatment for cancer, and that is the same for early or late cases. The only difference is the result. The treatment generally cures early cancer but it rarely cures late cancer. People without correct information seek help from the medical profession only with late cancer. The only method of reducing the number of deaths is to treat the disease in its early stages.”
Coffman Introduces Speaker.
Slides showing the development and diagnosis of cancer were projected during the lecture. Lotus D. Coffman, president of the University of Minnesota, who introduced Dr. Bloodgood, pointed to cancer research as one of the ways in which science is helping to prolong the human life. In a clinic which he conducted at the university Dr. Bloodgood examined five women, one of whom had cancer of the breast.

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