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
"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% 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 Mothers & Others for
a Livable Planet.
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, "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
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, is 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 2 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 begs 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
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% higher at the time she is taking oral contraceptives or HRT and for five
years after she stops, at which point the risk is 3% 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
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 freelance journalist specializing in environmental issues.
She writes a weekly column which is published on her website www.EcoTalk.org
and reports environmental news for DUTV in Philadelphia, PA. Lynn's been a radio
show host and a regular commentator for a BBC radio program.