Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Breast Cancer Awareness Month" : Are Supporters REALLY Aware?

As we've entered "Breast Cancer Awareness Month", pink has been all the rage: pink footwear on NFL players (as well as wrist wear), a pink Empire State bldg. (shown on one evening's ABC News broadcast) and even pink newspapers (Denver Post).  As I noted earlier in my post on the "ice bucket challenge" I am not into schmaltzy gimmicks especially to promote charities. It also - in my opinion- detracts and distracts from the awareness people ought to have of the genesis of the particular disease or disorder.

"Awareness" itself  implies a deep level of perceiving reality, not how reality is portrayed in the media, or how it is defined,  say by shrinks in the American Psychiatric Association. Bear in mind this is the same bunch of brainiacs who proposed a new definition for depression  in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual that would eliminate any exceptions for grief or bereavement. See also:

Bottom line: If any of these guys proposes to test your "grasp of reality" you had better run for the hills, because assuredly their measure or standard will be what they've been conditioned to accept in their limited educations, infused by the orthodoxy of the establishment or medical-industrial complex.  But I'll have more to write on this in a future post. Right now I want to deal with the level of awareness supporters of breast cancer awareness ought to have of the genesis of the disease and the connections to the charities they might support. Let's say it's a wake up call.

Under the radar even now is a 240-page study prepared in 2009 by the President's Cancer Panel. Released in May of that year, the paper,  Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk,  asserted it was "better to prevent cancer than to treat it."  This was in marked contrast to previous reports that always focused on individual lifestyle choices - including eating the wrong (e.g. fatty) foods, smoking and sun exposure. But almost unanimously, these reports omitted any exposure to environmental toxins or factors, including: agricultural pesticides,  industrial chemicals, medical radiation, and hazardous waste - including from fracking operations with the waste getting into ground water.

The Panel stated in its report:

"The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated."

It then went on to urge President Obama to take action:

"To use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water and air that needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity and devastate American lives."

So there, in one fell swoop, the awareness of a cancer reality altered - it changed from blaming citizens for their cancers to laying the blame on the real culprits, the industrial toxic cancer establishment.   Dr. Samuel Epstein, professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, put the value of the Panel's report this way:

"In my experience, this is the single greatest contribution ever to cancer prevention."

He elaborated by correctly noting that most charities' and organizations' narrow focus on lifestyle factors implied that when people got cancer - of any kind - it was their own fault. So when I got prostate cancer - diagnosed two years ago - it was my fault contingent on my choice of diet or not exercising enough or whatever. It had nothing to do with external factors in the environment including the weedicide my neighbor across the street regularly used (to keep his lawn the best on the block)  and which wafted into my home. Of course, I only accepted I might have been partly responsible and I blamed most of the genesis on the toxins from weedicides, pesticides.

But blaming the person has its advantages to the medical-industrial cancer complex which sees little money in prevention, much bigger profits in the diagnosis (e.g. prostate biopsies alone ring up $1 billion a year, and mammography runs into the multi-billions) and the treatments.

In addition, the  adopted approach shifts responsibility from the governmental institutions and corporations that are releasing carcinogens into the human and physical environment to the victims. Less well known is that it's not just the polluters themselves that promote the 'blame the lifestyle' approach but also the cancer establishment. No surprise then that the American Cancer Society (the world's largest nonreligious charity) focuses overwhelmingly on diagnosis and treatment, and has challenged the report's findings.

Indeed, the ACS pro-industry stance has been well known for decades - which is why I don't give them a dime.  Thus, Devra Davis in her 'Secret History of the War on Cancer' correctly exposed the PR underbelly of the American "Cancer wars" and their beneficiaries (see. e.g. Chapters 1-4), while also naming the American Cancer Society as having conflicts of interest and mixed motives (Chapter 5, 'Fear Sells). 

Davis accurately noted that people get told over and over (by the likes of the ACS and their physician enablers, apologists) that "too much fat" is causing their cancers - whether of lungs, bladders, prostate gland or breasts - and hence they bear greatest responsibility.  But  Lauretta Schwarz-Nobel ('The Breast Cancer Industry' in Poisoned Nation, St. Martin's Press, 2007) not only names environmental toxins and the chemical industry as the biggest culprits in the cancer explosion (she notes breast cancers have increased 300% since the 1960s) but shows in Chapter 6 that one of the biggest cancer drug producers (Astra Zeneca) ALSO produces one of the most toxic herbicides around, acetochlor.

Schwarz -Nobel asks, as every thinking American ought to, how it is that a multinational that manufactures one of the worst known carcinogens (p. 107) can also be manufacturing cancer treatment drugs. How can you basically be causing cancers and treating them at the same time?

In her book, Schwarz -Nobel also quotes Dr. Epstein (ibid.):

"This is a conflict of interest unparalleled in the history of American medicine. You've got a company that's a spinoff of one of the world's biggest manufacturers of carcinogenic chemicals and they've got control of breast cancer treatment. They've got control of chemoprevention studies, and now they have control of cancer treatment in eleven centers - which are clearly going to provide the drugs they manufacture."

Anyone paying attention? Is there really 'breast cancer awareness'? It doesn't appear so since so many are still brainwashed into blaming themselves and most of this month's PR is aimed at people making "lifestyle changes."    To those who still subscribe to the fundamental attribution error, Schwarz -Nobel next drags in the ACS for reprimand. She cites an article  by the same Dr. Epstein, appearing in Tikkun magazine ('The High Stakes of Cancer Prevention', Nov. -Dec. 2000):

"Since 1982, the American Cancer Society has insisted on 'unequivocal' proof that a substance causes cancer in humans before taking a position on limiting it. They are largely indifferent to cancer prevention."

Schwarz -Nobel continues (p. 108):

"After analyzing the American Cancer Society's budget and programs in 1998, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a watchdog organization that monitors major charities, concluded that the agency was 'more interested in accumulating wealth than saving lives".

She goes on to note that "though genetics and early diagnosis are stressed by the cancer industry, the truth is that '85 to 90 percent of breast cancers cannot be explained by inherited genetic disposition". (The Breast Cancer Epidemic 2005, at Breast Cancer fund:
What is the "cancer industry"? According to Breast Cancer Action, quoted by Schwarz -Nobel (ibid.):

"The Cancer industry consists of corporations, organizations, and agencies that diminish or mask the extent of the cancer problem, fail to protect our health or divert attention away from finding the causes of breast cancer...this includes drug companies that, in addition to profiting from cancer treatment drugs, also produce toxic chemicals that may be contributing to the high rates of cancer in this country and increasing rates throughout the world. It also includes the polluting industries that continue to release substances we know or suspect are dangerous to our health, and the public relations firms and public agencies who protect these polluters.

The Cancer industry includes organizations like the ACS that downplay the risk of cancer from pesticides and other environmental factors and which have historically refused to take a stand on environmental regulation".

That's quite a lot to digest for sure, but if people invested in this month's activities are REALLY serious about "breast cancer awareness" and not just playing at it, they need to learn more about who the real enemies of that awareness are.

Oh, and what the actual causes are!

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