Born in 1963, Marc Simoncini is a French entrepreneur and founder of several companies including iFrance and Meetic. In 2020, he took part in the programme ‘Who wants to be my associate?’ (adapted from the British ‘Dragon’s Den’).
Following one candidate’s pitch (for a medical project), Simoncini recalled his troubling meeting with a pharmaceutical industry director :
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Here’s a summary of what Marc Simoncini said:
You put me in a difficult position. I need to tell you a story … Twenty years ago, we wanted to find out whether giving vitamins and dietary supplements to children would reduce their risk of developing cancer in later years. For eight years, the children were given capsules – half received vitamins and the other half a placebo, in order to identify whether one group would go on to be less healthy than the other.
The chief executive goes on:
And I remember going to see the top director of the biggest laboratory in France to ask him for 150,000 francs (that’s around €23,000) to develop this study. He received me in his office in his pink silk socks – I’ll never forget it – and said to me “but why do you want me to prevent cancer in children when my job is to sell drugs once they’ve got it?"
Marc Simoncini concludes:
I never really got over that comment and I guess there’s a bunch of kids who’ve had cancer because they didn’t receive any vitamins.
This video clip has been widely shared on Facebook and other social media. The laboratory chief’s cynicism revealed by Simoncini has sparked outrage among many web-users.
Let’s take this opportunity to remember that numerous studies have shown that how we eat affects our risk of developing cancer: they include the many expert studies conducted by the National Institute of Cancer (INCa) in France, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). (1-3)
The main causes of avoidable cancer include those related to nutrition: alcohol, an unbalanced diet and obesity, (to which smoking and a lack of physical activity should be added). So it’s vitally important to watch what you put on your plate!
The golden rule is well-known: eat a balanced diet.
In particular, make sure you eat plant-source foods such as fruits and vegetables (4-7). They are generally high in vitamins, antioxidants and fibre and are thus a key part of the healthy, varied diet you need to help prevent cancer (8-9).
In addition, try to avoid processed foods (ready meals, tinned food ...) as well as eating too much red meat, cooked meats and sugar.
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