Tall people live shorter lives. One of the reasons is the higher risk of getting cancer. Tall people have more cells that divide more often making them more susceptible for genetic mistakes. Also the higher concentration of growth hormone in taller people encourages abnormal cells to grow quicker making it more difficult to control the cancer. If we look at the scale of the body, cancer is a warning that we should stop growing so tall.
If we look at our planet perhaps there are similar warning signs. The Incredible Shrinking Man has become increasingly interested in the relationship between cancer and our and societies’ obsession with growth. Not only is there a direct physical link. We may also learn something from a closer investigation of how malignant growth of cancer relates to economic growth. Shrink researcher Arne Hendriks is participating in a project initiated by the Department of Search that aims to create a zero footprint campus at the Utrecht Science Park, home among many other research institutes to the renowned Hubrecht Institute for stem cell research. To connect the desire for less with the necessity to overcome our desire for more Hendriks is developing KankerCel (CancerCell). Cancer is not only a disease, but a symbol for an even bigger challenge mankind is facing, namely finding a balance between our craving for growth and the strength of our ecological system. If we regard the ecology as a body, man in this body is his own primary threat. We’re simply not succeeding to find a balance between what we want, or what we think we have a right to, and what is good for us and Earth. KankerCel wants to unravel our craving for growth from the idea that nothing symbolises the destructive human submission to growth more powerfully than its embodiment in cancer. To do so we will set up dialogues between cancer researchers and specialists from the fields of economics, politics, business and psychology, among others. Hopefully such an interdisciplinary approach will open up space for the alternatives of less and teach us a thing or two about how to fight cancer.