The Breast Cancer Money-Go-Round
They're good girls and boys. Racing for the cure. Crying for the cameras. Sharing their pain. Wearing that crown of thorns like a halo. Nice folks. And aren't they "better people" for just having "survived" breast cancer?
Or ... are they being played for suckers? Conned by a clever marketing strategy that makes heroes out of victims, and saints out of sinners. Racing for the cure, but running from the cause.
Most of the well-financed breast cancer organizations make little or no mention of the non-genetic causes of breast cancer. Go to their websites. Read their literature. These organizations don't focus on the environmental and pharmacological causes of this epidemic because it's a dank dark alley that leads right to their corporate sponsors.
"National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was established by Zeneca, a bioscience company with sales of $8.62 billion in 1997. Forty-nine percent of Zeneca's 1997 profits came from pesticides and other industrial chemicals, and 49 percent were from pharmaceutical sales, one-third (about $1.4 billion's worth) of which were cancer treatment drugs," says the Green Guide, a publication of the Green Guide Institute.
Zeneca also makes Tamoxifen, "a known carcinogen" according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After only a few years of exposure, Tamoxifen can actually cause breast cancer, says a 1999 study from Duke University. "There is strong evidence of Tamoxifen's toxicity, including high risks of uterine, gastrointestinal and fatal liver cancer," reports The Cancer Information Network, adding that The Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT) conducted by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) "found that women taking Tamoxifen had more than twice the chance of developing uterine cancer compared with women on placebo."
General Electric is a huge global conglomerate that provides all kinds of products and services. GE also owns health clinics that use GE equipment that can expose patients to different types of radiation. GE makes ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and mammography machines -- a known cause of breast cancer in younger women. In addition, there are 91 nuclear power plants based on the GE design operating in 11 countries, says GE on its website. Nuclear power plants are a known source of radiation leakage.
Radiation is a "complete carcinogen" says Dr. Peter Montegue, in his 1997 5-part series, "The Truth About Breast Cancer." Montegue writes, "Very few things have the ability to initiate cancer AND promote it AND make it progress. Things that can do this are called "complete carcinogens." By analyzing 50 years of U.S. National Cancer Institute data, Dr. Jay Gould, director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, Inc., says, "of the 3,000-odd counties in the United States, women living in about 1,300 nuclear counties (located within 100 miles of a reactor) are at the greatest risk of dying of breast cancer." GE is also a contributor to many efforts to "battle" breast cancer.
Other corporations, such as Rhone-Poulec, Rohm & Hass, Eli Lilly Novartis, American Cyanamid and Dupont, have also profiteered from both sides of this manufactured epidemic.
In addition to these duplicitous industries and their heavily financed non-profit partners-in-deception, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its cozy relationship to (and increasing financial reliance on) business and industry through organizations like the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, are a blatant conflict of interest. Not surprisingly, the NIH website for breast cancer research is very similar to research funded by the top breast cancer organizations... it's all about detection, cures, and genetics. Of the 14 areas of research listed, only two studies relate to the links between breast cancer and non-genetic influences. And those studies dismiss the notion of any connection.
The NIH studies are grossly misleading.
On June 26, 2002, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, part of NIH) issued a news release that said, "Study Finds No Association Between Oral Contraceptive Use and Breast Cancer For Women 35 and Over." Actually the study did not include women older than 65 or younger than 35, which raises the question, "Why not?" What also makes this study hard to swallow are the results of the study on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) two weeks later. On July 9, 2002 (and after more than forty years of widespread use) the NIH announced that HRT (low dose estrogen plus progestin), can cause an increase in heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and ... breast cancer.
So, are we to believe that the low dose estrogen-progestin combination is okay for contraception, but not for menopause?
Actually, there was no difference between the outcome of those two studies, admitted Dr. Bob Spirtas, of the National Institute of Child Health and Development (part of NIH), in a conversation with this writer. A woman's risk for breast cancer is 16 percent higher at the time she is taking oral contraceptives or HRT and for five years after she stops, at which point the risk is three percent or "statistically insignificant," said Dr. Spirtas.
Well, that certainly wasn't the message conveyed by the NIH, which seemed to give oral contraceptives a clean bill of health.
The NIH has also come to the rescue of the chemical industry. On May 15, 2001, the NIH announced, "DDT, PCBs Not Linked to Higher Rates of Breast Cancer, an Analysis of Five Northeast Studies Concludes." However, the highly regarded authors of Our Stolen Future point out that most studies are flawed, "The problem is that DDE and the commonly-studied most persistent PCBs act as an anti-androgen and anti-estrogens, respectively, not estrogens. Findings that indicate these contaminants are not associated with breast cancer risk are completely irrelevant to the hypothesis that xenoestrogens may induce breast cancer."
It's pretty clear. We're firing blanks in this "war against breast cancer." While industries release toxic chemicals, unsafe drugs, and radiation, they also fund government agencies and large non-profits who provide effective "cover" for their devastating activities.
I call it the Breast Cancer Money-Go-Round.
Lynn Landes is a syndicated columnist based in Philadelphia. See an archive of her previous columns at EcoTalk.org.