The American Cancer Society (ACS) made news waves earlier this year when they disputed the findings of the President’s Cancer Panel on the role of toxins in causing cancer. Though the new report echoes what other experts have maintained for years, the ACS went out of its way to attack the report and downplay the role of toxins. Many critics have questioned the ACS’s motives apparent conflicts of interest due to numerous ACS ties to chemical industries influence and donations.
Critics note that the ACS condemnation of the toxins report is far from the first time the Society has taken a stance that benefits those it has ties to while disputing expert reports and studies. Indeed, the ACS dispute of the report is merely the latest in a long line of controversial stances that appear to be self-serving and against the public interest.
Another example is the ACS’s continued support of mammograms. Concerns over the safety and efficacy of mammograms have been widely reported dating all the way back to 1977, including several notable supporting studies supporting such concerns. In spite of those studies and concerns, the ACS has remained a staunch supporter of mammograms. Notably, the ACS has strong ties to the mammography industry.
Last year the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that mammograms increased "the burden of low-risk cancers without significantly reducing the burden of more aggressively growing cancers and therefore not resulting in the anticipated reduction in cancer mortality". After the JAMA paper, it was initially reported that the ACS would finally change their stance on mammograms – as they once did with tobacco after years of stonewalling. However, the pro-mammogram interests in the ACS apparently won out and such reports were later denied.
As Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society stated: "We are not redoing or rethinking our guidelines at this time, nor are we going to restate our guidelines to emphasize the inadequacies of screening."
Although the ACS annually pleads poverty, it actually takes in more money than any other US charity and has huge cash reserves, property and other assets – any pays out a relative pittance for actual research, prevention or patient services. Further, despite public promises to do everything to "wipe out cancer in your lifetime," the ACS has failed to make its voice heard in Congress and regulatory agencies. Instead, the ACS has repeatedly rejected or ignored opportunities and requests from Congressional committees and other agencies and groups to provide scientific testimony critical to legislate and regulate a wide range of occupational and environmental carcinogens.
The scope of the ACS failure to act is illustrated by increases in a wide range of cancers, including:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has increased 76 percent mostly due to phenoxy herbicides and phenylenediamine hair dyes.
- Testicular cancer has increased by 49 percent due to pesticides, harmful ingredients in personal care products and estrogen residues in meat.
- Malignant melanoma has increased by 168 percent due to the use of toxic sunscreen products that fail to block long wave ultraviolet light.
- Thyroid cancer has increased by 124 percent due in large part to ionizing radiation.
- Childhood leukemia has increased by 55 percent due to ionizing radiation; domestic pesticides, nitrite preservatives in meats and parental exposures to occupational carcinogens.
- Ovarian 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 largely to genital use of talc powder.
- Breast cancer has increased 17 percent due to a wide range of factors including birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, and mammogram and other diagnostic radiation.
The American Cancer Society has been called "the world’s wealthiest non-profit" due to the tremendous amount of money it raises every year, its huge cash reserves, land holdings and other assets and salaries that range to above a million dollars for top executives as well as company automobiles and generous benefits packages.
Almost two decades ago, the nation’s leading charity watchdog, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, warned against giving money to the American Cancer Society. The Chronicle stated that, "The ACS is more interested in accumulating wealth than saving lives."
Others have openly questioned whether the ACS serves those it has ties to more than it does the public it has pledged to serve. Due to its vast wealth as well as questionable actions such as donating to political campaigns, some have even called for the elimination of the ACS non-profit status.
Although the history of the ACS’s unresponsiveness and questionable actions has become a long and damning one, such was not always the case. The ACS was not always the "800 pound gorilla" of charities with questionable ties to industries who caused and profited from cancer. Instead, the ACS traces its roots to humble beginnings when a group of gynecologists formed the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC) in 1913. The ASCC began with a simple goal: persuade physicians to learn how to look at the cervix and persuade women to allow regular exams.
Also unlike today’s ACS, the earlier ASCC recognized the impact of environmental causes of cancer. In a report in Time magazine in 1937, ASCC head Clarence Cook Little stated:
"Investigators have at last got a glimmering of what causes cancer. Some people inherit a susceptibility to the disease. But they do not develop cancer unless some susceptible part of the body is unduly irritated by 1) carcinogenic chemicals, 2) physical agents (X-rays, strong sun light, repeated abrasions as from a jagged tooth), 3) possibly, biological products produced by parasites."
During the years of World War II, the ASCC became rebranded as the American Cancer Society and its board became increasingly infiltrated by people who were from American industry instead of doctors or scientists. By 1946, half their board members were non-scientists.
In the 1950s the leaders of the ACS included W. B. Lewis, vice president of the tobacco giant Liggett and Myers. The ACS showed little support or enthusiasm for British and American studies connecting smoking and cancer, including studies from researchers within the ACS. Even after massive studies provided compelling evidence, the ACS continued to drag their feet.
In 1954 they reluctantly adopted a resolution stating "present evidence indicates an association between smoking, particularly cigarette smoking, and lung cancers", but allowed their own researcher to publish his findings only so long as he listed numerous reservations about how the association might be tempered by air pollution, workspace dust and other things. For years afterward, the ACS stance was that more data was required before any firm conclusion could be reached.
Thus began a long history of the ACS stonewalling and taking positions counter to scientific evidence and in ways that benefited board members, donors and cancer causing industries.
Following is a list of some of the more dubious actions and inactions by the ACS which indicate a clear pattern of obstruction and indifference when it comes to the causes of cancer and unresponsiveness in taking positive actions to serve the public in preventing and curing cancer. The following list is by no means inclusive:
1971 – When studies unequivocally proved that diethylstilbestrol (DES) caused vaginal cancers in teenaged daughters of women administered the drug during pregnancy, the ACS refused an invitation to testify at Congressional hearings to require the FDA to ban its use as an animal feed additive.
1977 – The ACS called for a Congressional moratorium on the FDA’s proposed ban on saccharin and even advocated its use by nursing mothers and babies in "moderation" despite clear-cut evidence of its carcinogenicity in rodents. Such a proposal reflects the consistent rejection by the ACS of the value of animal evidence in predicting human cancer risk.
1977-78 – The ACS opposed proposed regulations for hair coloring products that contained dyes suspected of causing breast cancer despite clear evidence those chemicals were clear-cut liver and breast carcinogens.
1978 – Tony Mazzocchi, then senior representative of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Union, stated at a Washington, D.C. roundtable between public interest groups and high-ranking ACS officials: "Occupational safety standards have received no support from the ACS."
1978 – Congressman Paul Rogers censured the ACS for doing "too little, too late" in failing to support the Clean Air Act.
1982 – The ACS adopted a highly restrictive cancer policy that insisted on unequivocal human evidence of carcinogenicity before taking any position on public health hazards.
1983 – The ACS refused to join a coalition of the March of Dimes, American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association to support the Clean Air Act.
1992 – The ACS issued a joint statement with the Chlorine Institute supporting the continued global use of organochlorine pesticides despite clear evidence they caused breast cancer. VP Clark Heath dismissed evidence of risk as "preliminary and mostly based on weak and indirect association."
1992 – The ACS aggressively launched
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year. He is also a contributing author for the worldwide advocacy group S.A N.E.Vax. Inc which endeavors to uncover the truth about HPV vaccine dangers.
Mr. Isaacs is currently residing in scenic East Texas and frequently commutes to the even more scenic Texas hill country near Austin and San Antonio to give lectures and health seminars. He also hosts the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - featuring Luella May forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group Oleander Soup and he serves as a consultant to the Utopia Silver Supplement Company.
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