Has the human species become a cancer on the planet? A theoretical view of population growth as a sign of pathology

Curr World Lead. 1993 Dec;36(6):1,089-124.


The author describes current global population trends as being similar to the development of a cancer in the living body. "The human species, through the instrument of culture, has become the dominant force of planetary ecological change. Our adaptations have become maladaptive. Moreover, the human species as a whole now displays all four major characteristics of a malignant process: rapid, uncontrolled growth; invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues (ecosystems); metastasis (distant colonization); and dedifferentiation (loss of distinctiveness in individual components). We have become a malignant ecopathologic process. If this diagnosis is true, what is the prognosis? The difference between us and most forms of cancer is that we can think, and we can decide not to be a cancer."

MeSH terms

  • Demography
  • Disease
  • Environment*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Population Growth*