October; month of pumpkins and changing leaves, Halloween , my birthday,
and the nearly ubiquitous Breast Cancer Awareness. By now you've been
inundated with pink ribbons, pink T-shirts, pink coffee mugs and pink
Cadillacs. No wait, those are Mary Kay
. You've maybe shelled
out some sponsorship money for runs, hikes, walks, three-legged races
out pink may be the color of Evil.
Cancer Awareness Month was launched in 1985 by Zeneca Pharmaceuticals.
Zeneca is the company that manufactures the widely prescribed breast
cancer drug Nolvadex (generic name tamoxifen), and operates a chain
of cancer care centers. No conflict of interest there! All TV, radio,
and print media regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month are paid for
and must be approved by Zeneca. But wait; there's more.
is also a major manufacturer of herbicides and fungicides. One of
their products, an organo-chlorine herbicide called acetochlor, is
implicated as a causal factor in breast cancer. Maybe this isn't such
a big deal. It's just one product. Except that it's used to grow corn.
It's mixed with another chemical and used to prevent weed growth in
corn fields. Production seed corn, field corn, silage corn, and popcorn.
Corn, in turn, is fed to chickens, cows, pigs, it's made into syrup
which is used as a sweetener, hell it's the first ingredient in most
pet foods. Corn is like Elvis, it's everywhere. And the persistent
nature of organochlorides means acetochlor is everywhere, too.
brilliant is that? You poison their food, get them sick, then you
sell them the cure! All behind a smokescreen of concern and compassion
that has roped in multi-million dollar sponsors like Avon, Lee Denim,
the USPS (remember those postage stamps?) and LA City of Hope Hospital.
the US boasts one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world,
and it only increases. Fifty years ago a woman's lifetime risk was
cited as one in twenty. Today, it has skyrocketed to one in eight.
It's been found that women with breast cancer have four times the
levels of DDE (an organo-chlorine pesticide) found in non-carcinogenic
tumors. New York State denied registration of acetochlor in 1997 in
part due to two rare tumor types found in their rat studies. Researchers
of increased breast cancer rates among upper class women in Massachusetts
(as compared with their lower economic counterparts) attributed the
increase to greater use of professional lawn care service and dry
the motto of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is "Early Detection
is Your Best Protection." The National Cancer Institute stated
in 1995 that "Breast cancer is simply not a preventable disease,"
and in 1997 the American Cancer Society's announced that "there
are no practical ways to prevent breast cancer." All the focus
is on damage control--screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Cancer
prevention manifests as a "blame-the-victim" approach, emphasizing
poor lifestyle habits while downplaying the role of avoidable exposures.
You know, like air and water and food.
aversion to prevention is doubtless driven by the cancer establishment's
intimate connections with corporate America. The American Cancer Society
was founded with the support of the Rockefellers in 1913, and board
members have always included affiliates of the chemical and pharmaceutical
industries. High-ranking officials in the National Cancer Institute
routinely accept lucrative posts in the cancer-drug industry. The
fox guarding the chickens? More like the farmer making fried chicken
for the fox, after stealing the chickens' wallets to pay the check.
on the "cure," of course, conveniently ignores the cause.
When it comes to the environmental carcinogens found in pesticides,
herbicides, and other chemical sources, there is a deafening silence
from all Breast Cancer Awareness Month programs. Why? Refer to paragraph
three, sentence four.
case you have a modicum of hope regarding Zeneca's motives, consider
that their drug to fight breast cancer is itself a carcinogen. Go
ahead, read that again, I'll wait
.. The FDA approval included
the following text: "The agency notes that caution must be used
in prescribing the drug because of its potentially serious side effects
including endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus),
deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in major veins), and pulmonary embolism
(serious blood clots in the lungs)."
is a small population of women for whom this drug is helpful and appropriate.
For most, it represents disease substitution at best, and at worst
the ultimate ugly irony: The journal Science published a study from
Duke University Medical Center in 1999 showing that after 2 - 5 years,
tamoxifen actually initiated the growth of breast cancer. Apparently,
some breast cancers adapt to use tamoxifen to stimulate their growth.
absurdity of a chemical manufacturer sponsoring a health event should
have raised some eyebrows, but no major news outlet seems to have
picked up this story, though all the evidence is available in publicly
accessible documents from the EPA, NIH, FDA, and state government
archives. Anyway, you can save your pink ribbon money and maybe buy
a water purifier. And some wheat bread. Me, I'm excited. I've got
the best, scariest Halloween costume ever: I'm going as an ear of