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Samuel S. Epstein

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Reckless Indifference Of The American Cancer Society To Cancer Prevention

Posted: 12/16/09 03:55 PM ET

Early this month, top Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley sent letters to the American Cancer Society (ACS), besides the American Medical Association (AMA) and 31 other medical advocacy groups, asking them to provide detailed information on tax-deductible funds that they have received from drug and device makers. Such funds have encouraged these organizations to lobby on behalf of a wide range of industries and strongly influence public policy.

Senator Grassley also invited involvement of "whistleblowers interested in establishing communication regarding wrongdoing or misuse of public dollars." However, this wrongdoing still remains unrecognized by policy makers, let alone by the public. As a result, the incidence of a wide range of avoidable cancers has continued to escalate. Meanwhile, well-documented scientific information on their well-documented causes remains undisclosed or ignored by the ACS. (Epstein, S.S. Cancer Gate: How To Win The Losing Cancer War, 2005).

1971 The ACS refused to testify at Congressional hearings requiring FDA to ban the intramuscular injection of diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogenic hormone, to fatten cattle, despite unequivocal evidence of its carcinogenicity, and the cancer risks of eating hormonal meat. Not surprisingly, U.S. meat is banned by other nations worldwide.
1977 The ACS opposed regulating black or dark brown hair dyes, based on paraphenylenediamine in spite of clear evidence of its risks of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, besides other cancers.
1978 Tony Mazzocchi, then senior international union labor representative, protested that "Occupational safety standards have received no support from the ACS." This has resulted in the increasing incidence of a wide range of avoidable cancers.
1978 Cong. Paul Rogers censured ACS for its failure to support the Clean Air Act in order to protect interests of the automobile industry
1982 The ACS adopted restrictive cancer policies, rejecting evidence based on standard rodent tests, which are widely accepted by governmental agencies worldwide and also by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
1984 The ACS created the industry-funded October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to falsely assure women that "early (mammography) detection results in a cure nearly 100 percent of the time." Responding to question, ACS admitted: "Mammography today is a lucrative [and] highly competitive business." Also, the Awareness Month ignores substantial information on avoidable causes of breast cancer.
1992 The ACS supported the Chlorine Institute in defending the continued use of carcinogenic chlorinated pesticides, despite their environmental persistence and carcinogenicity.
1993 Anticipating the Public Broadcast Service (PBS) Frontline special "In Our Children's Food," the ACS trivialized pesticides as a cause of childhood cancer and charged PBS with "junk science." The ACS went further by questioning, "Can we afford the PBS?"
1994 The ACS published a highly flawed study designed to trivialize cancer risks from the use of dark hair dyes.
1998 The ACS allocated $330,000, under 1 percent of its then $680 million budget, to claimed research on environmental cancer.
1999 The ACS trivialized risks of breast, colon and prostate cancers from consumption of rBGH genetically modified milk. Not surprisingly, U.S. milk is banned by other nations worldwide.
2002 The ACS announced its active participation in the "Look Good...Feel Better Program," launched in 1989 by the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, to "help women cancer patients restore their appearance and self-image during chemotherapy and radiation treatment." This program was partnered by a wide range of leading cosmetics industries, which failed to disclose information on the carcinogenic, and other toxic ingredients in their products donated to unsuspecting women.
2002 The ACS reassured the nation that carcinogenicity exposures from dietary pesticides, "toxic waste in dump sites, "ionizing radiation from "closely controlled" nuclear power plants, and non-ionizing radiation, are all "at such low levels that cancer risks are negligible." ACS indifference to cancer prevention became embedded in national cancer policy, following the appointment of Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, ACS Past President-Elect, as National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director.
2005 The ACS indifference to cancer prevention other than smoking, remains unchanged, despite the escalating incidence of cancer, and its $ billion budget.

Some of the more startling realities in the failure to prevent cancers are illustrated by their soaring increases from 1975 to 2005, when the latest NCI epidemiological data are available. These include:

•Malignant melanoma of the skin in adults has increased by 168 percent due to the use of sunscreens in childhood that fail to block long wave ultraviolet light;
•Thyroid cancer has increased by 124 percent due in large part to ionizing radiation;
•Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has increased 76 percent due mostly to phenoxy herbicides; and phenylenediamine hair dyes;
•Testicular cancer has increased by 49 percent due to pesticides; hormonal ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products; and estrogen residues in meat;
•Childhood leukemia has increased by 55 percent due to ionizing radiation; domestic pesticides; nitrite preservatives in meats, particularly hot dogs; and parental exposures to occupational carcinogens;
•Ovary cancer (mortality) for women over the age of 65 has increased by 47 percent in African American women and 13 percent in Caucasian women due to genital use of talc powder;
•Breast cancer has increased 17 percent due to a wide range of factors. These include: birth control pills; estrogen replacement therapy; toxic hormonal ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products; diagnostic radiation; and routine premenopausal mammography, with a cumulative breast dose exposure of up to about five rads over ten years.

MAJOR CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Public Relations
•1998-2000: PR for the ACS was handled by Shandwick International, whose major clients included R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings.
•2000-2002: PR for the ACS was handled by Edelman Public Relations, whose major clients included Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, and the Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris, Kraft, and fast food and soft drink beverage companies. All these companies were promptly dismissed once this information was revealed by the Cancer Prevention Coalition.

Industry FundingACS has received contributions in excess of $100,000 from a wide range of "Excalibur Donors," many of whom continue to manufacture carcinogenic products. These include:

•Petrochemical companies (DuPont; BP; and Pennzoil)
•Industrial waste companies (BFI Waste Systems)
•Junk food companies (Wendy's International; McDonalds's; Unilever/Best Foods; and Coca-Cola)
•Big Pharma (AstraZenceca; Bristol Myers Squibb; GlaxoSmithKline; Merck & Company; and Novartis)
•Biotech companies (Amgen; and Genentech)
•Cosmetic companies (Christian Dior; Avon; Revlon; Elizabeth Arden; and Estee Lauder)
•Auto companies (Nissan; General Motors)

Nevertheless, as reported in the December 8, 2009 New York Times, the ACS responded that it "holds itself to the highest standards of transparency and public accountability, and we look forward to working with Senator Grassley to provide the information he requested."

THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY
As the nation's leading charity watch dog, the Chronicle has warned against the transfer of money from the public purse to private hands. It also warned that "The ACS is more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives."

A copy of this release has been sent to Senator Charles E. Grassley, of Iowa.