Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Yes, Truth Is A Casualty In The "War On Cancer"

nice map image.jpg
Prostate image yielded as part of 3D staging biopsy with cancerous lesions in mud yellow, urethra in green. This is completed prior to focal cryotherapy treatment  - where a cryo-probe at -90C is inserted into the perineum to freeze cancer cells.  The procedure can last from an hour to an hour and forty five minutes. But no promises are made to rid the cancer entirely.

Steve Salerno, in his WSJ article ('In The War On Cancer Truth Becomes The Casualty',  p. A13, April 21-22) is adamant that cancer patients are being sold a bill of goods via phony TV ads where "the multimillion dollar industry appeals to emotion".  He wrote this after seeing an M.D. Anderson ad proclaiming:  "Come to us and you will beat  cancer "  i.e. rendered in red strike through to reinforce the point.

Salerno emphasized there were "no asterisks" and "no disclaimers" - viewing the ad as exaggeration to prey on false hopes.  After all, those with cancer are often desperate to get rid of it, get the proverbial "cure", so if a promise (by a reputable medical center)  is made to "beat cancer" that's interpreted as getting the job done. And why not, given "Cancer Inc's denizens will compete for an estimated $207 billion in 2020.."  So "it is less a war on cancer than a war on truth - and on vulnerable consumers."

Salerno continues:

"The most comprehensive study of such advertising, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2014, notes that cancer treatment ads as a class rely on emotional appeals evoking hope or fear, while pointedly eliding useful information. Eighty -eight percent tout treatments and only 18 percent mention screening even though early diagnosis is more critical to survival than the interventions romanticized on TV"

Which is absolutely true.   For example, by the time my youngest brother Mike was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer in early May he'd already run out of time for any useful treatments. The  most discriminating screening test - the liver biopsy -   was just too late.   His oncologist informed him-  soon after the grim  diagnosis -  that he could provide "palliative" treatment and  keep him alive an "extra few months" by use of radiation plus chemo, "but there would be side effects."  Mike wanted nothing of it, and said flatly 'No!'   He could not be moved to struggle for a further month or two,  expending a lot of money for useless treatments,  knowing his time was up anyway.

In my case, with prostate cancer, I also know the clock is ticking but I am not sure how fast. Having had high dose radiation in September, 2012 as a first treatment then focal cryotherapy as a salvage treatment last June, all I know is what the further screening tests have disclosed: that is a PSA of 2.7 at the end of April, and free PSA of 4.1 % - which indicates a more than 70 percent probability the cancer is still there - in other words it hasn't been "beaten" yet.

When I  asked the UCHealth NP, Kristen. : "Why has it seemed to come back?" She replied, "Well, it happens!"  Perhaps, but perhaps you guys never had it as much  under control - or treatable (especially with a focal therapy) -  as you assumed! After all, prostate cancer is a multifocal disease.

Even if we adhere to the most judicious diets and avoid all meats, alcohol, smokes etc. there is absolutely no assurance of continued wellness to the point of escaping all diseases such as cancer. Nor, I will add, is there any assurance that ANY prostate cancer treatment - even the "gold standard" radical prostatectomy - can ultimately beat it.  When one reads the litany of complaints on the Team Inspire prostate forum it is totally disheartening.  Forum members have referred to treatment after treatment:   RP, EBRT, HIFU, HDR brachytherapy, focal cryotherapy, proton beam - but none  working with finality. Well, let's amend that a bit:  maybe there is a 0.5% success rate, i.e. 0.5 % of guys who come away from said treatment and find no recurrence afterward.  That includes no more rising PSA, no more low free % PSA, no more need for invasive biopsies.

In other words, in the "war on cancer' there are very few ultimate victors, at least with prostate cancer and I suspect with many others.  One Team Inspire member actually insisted that "with so many different treatments it's obvious the oncologists and urologists know little or nothing."  An extreme take but it illustrates the level of frustration after getting a professed "excellent treatment" then having it come back.

Thus, all the ads bleating  about "beating it" are mostly fulsome rubbish fed to people desperate to be rid of it.  The ads then are more inundated with false hopes than realistic expectations, and cancer patients - at least those with prostate cancer - are starting to figure that out.

At the center of the hopelessness of fighting the disease is Barbara  Ehrenreich's research on immune cells as a Ph. D. student in the 1960s, specifically on  “macrophages".  Her research led her to drop the  rose tinted glasses of hope and finally grasp these cells originally viewed as friends – frontline defenders against microbial invaders-  had been exposed as traitors. They were "biological double agents" for their role in cancer and autoimmune diseases. Hence, one of her basic "wellness" beliefs was shattered early and with it all the associated hokum and delusionary twaddle. . If one's body can attack itself, then why bother trying to look after it? At least to any assiduous, extreme extent?
Much of this was exposed in her new book, Natural Causes: An Epidemic Of Wellness, The Certainty Of Dying, And Killing Ourselves to Live Longer')   Such discoveries led Ehrenreich to conclude once one reaches the mid-70s, then extraordinary life preserving measures as well as screenings ought to be off the table. Let it go already! 
As even Salerno puts it (ibid.):

"The war on cancer is not the place for pep talks and poetic license. We could do with more disclosure, less delusion. "

But the other side that needs less delusion has to do with the covert nexus of the "cancer industry" and its components, agenda.  What is the "cancer industry"? According to Breast Cancer Action, quoted by Lauretta Schwarz -Nobel in her book,  Poisoned Nation, St. Martin's Press, 2007:

"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

This take on concealing the extent of the cancer problem, especially in terms of chemical toxins and their effects, was first broached by Devra Davis in her 'Secret History of the War on Cancer'.  She courageously 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 notes that people get told over and over (by the likes of the ACS and their physician apologists) that "too much fat" is causing their cancers - whether of lungs, bladders, prostate gland or breasts - and hence they bear greatest responsibility.  Never mind the evidence from more than 80 years of cumulative data which discloses it's chemicals in the environment that contribute more than fifty times as much.  

By contrast,  Ms. Schwarz -Nobel pulls no similar punches. She 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 her (named) Chapter 6 that one of the biggest cancer drug producers (Astra Zeneca) ALSO produces one of the most toxic herbicides around, acetochlor. See also my earlier blog on Toxic America:

I point all this out because this is the major delusion in terms of the cancer wars, imho, not the TV ads blabbering false hope and bunkum.  If we don't know the extent of the agents that are connected to cancer then there is little chance of proactively avoiding them, and the necessity of getting so many screening tests (at the cost of tens of billions of dollars a year) in the first place.

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?

Referring to AstraZeneca, the author points out:

"According to Sierra Magazine, 'Its Perry, Ohio chemical plant is the third largest source of potential cancer-causing pollution in the United States releasing 53,000 pounds of recognized carcinogens into the air in 1996". AstraZeneca is also the world's third largest drug concern, valued at $67 billion."

She then goes on to quote a Dr. Samuel Epstein from the same Sierra piece (ibid.):

"This is a conflict of interest unparalleled in the history of American medicine."

And further:

"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."

Clearly, the exposure of these hidden connections is the truth that needs to come out in the ongoing cancer battle, including the funding of treatments. At the end, we should not be funding companies if they are causing cancers at the same time as offering treatments. 

See also:

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