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Good News! UNC Health Textbook No Longer Claims Cancer is A “Choice”

The textbook also contained some extremely problematic assertions about the Holocaust.


The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has officially revised the only mandatory textbook for all college students at the university after it was heavily criticized for two of its more controversial opinions.

The textbook, which is called “21st Century Fitness” is part of a fitness course. According to the Associated Press, every single student — there are 5,000 of them — is required to take the course and read the textbook to graduate. The textbook is a part of an online course sold by an education company called Perceivant. Perceivant stated that they allowed universities to tailor and edit the textbook based on their needs. The textbook, written by two Brigham Young faculty members, was heavily criticized after students and readers discovered two very problematic assertions in the textbook.

The first assertion was that cancer was a “disease of choice.” While it’s true that individuals are more at risk to cancer depending on their lifestyle, their genetic history, their external environment and access to proper health care, calling the disease a “choice” is deeply misleading and, well, unscientific, which is an issue as it comes to educating college freshman in a required course.

The other assertion that caught many students eyes was the idea that had Holocaust survivors believed in themselves and worked very hard, they may have survived a genocide that wiped out an estimated six million or more Jewish people. The theory was built off of a book by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wherein he asserted that anyone can find a reason to live.

However, the book took that simple statement as an argument that the “people in the camps who did not tap into the strength that comes from recognizing their intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected. They gave up.”

Several Jewish organizations pushed back against that crass argument. Other students took issue with the lack of focus the textbook put on the genetic predispositions some people may have to certain diseases, heart conditions, diabetes, and, yes, cancer.