Hoodwinked: how the war against cancer is being lost


by Rosita Sweetman

January 08 2006

Sunday Independent


APROFESSOR in America has just produced his eleventh book on cancer, detailing 30 years of research that claims the American government, American big business and what he terms "the Cancer Establishment" - the big cancer charities, along with their buddies in academia and industry - are hoodwinking ordinary people into thinking the war against cancer is being won when it isn't.

People also assume that the main causes of cancer are smoking and "lifestyle" and that if we just keep spending more money, the cure is just around the corner, but, according to Professor SamuelS Epstein, neither of these assumptions is true.

Further, this septuagenarian Noam Chomsky of the cancer killing fields says that the deaths from cancer suffered by millions of ordinary Americans could have been avoided, if the blindingly obvious was universally accepted: that thousands of carcinogens are being poured into the environment every year, and that until cancer prevention is made the top priority of American government, industry and "the Cancer Establishment", and carcinogenic substances are banned and phased out, the death and suffering will continue unabated.

One in two American men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lives. Some 1,400,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancer a year, of whom 600,000 will die.

In an attempt to explain the figures, Professor Epstein goes back to the origins of the US petro-chemical industry in the Forties when artificial pesticides - many of them diluted nerve gases developed for chemical warfare in the Second World War - were sold on to farmers for use on agriculture. As they became more widespread, the nuclear industry, also a 'spin-off' of the war, swung into gear.

Thus, a massively powerful, aggressive, and hugely polluting force, was unleashed, with no controls, no testing, and, from the industries' point of view, consistent trivialising of the consequences of their polluting actions, so that now, 60 years later, there are toxins everywhere, with "pervasive environmental contamination of air, water, hazardous waste sites and the workplace with carcinogenic, industrial chemicals;contamination of food with carcinogenic pesticides; carcinogenic ingredients in cosmetics andtoiletries and household products, carcinogenic prescription drugs and carcinogenic high-doseradiation".

When you think about it, of course it all makes perfect sense. If everything is laced with carcinogens then there's going to be more and more cancer. And Professor Epstein's table of the "dirty dozen" 'Author claims that everyday products sold in US, such as milk, talc, hair colour and toothpaste are laced with carcinogens'

consumer products makes alarming reading. He claims that everyday products sold in America, such as whole milk, talcum powder, toothpaste, hair colour and pet collars are laced with carcinogens.

If this is so, why aren't the big cancer charities yelling from the rooftops: "Get rid of the carcinogens. Stop killing people." Apparently, because they are mostly far too busy making millions.

Cancer is big, big business and the US cancer societies are inextricably involved. As Professor Epstein puts it: "For decades, the war on cancer has been dominated by powerful interlocking groups of professional and financial interests, with highly profitable drug development as its hub."

Or as The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the American charity watchdog, put it: "They are more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives". And their obscenely well-financed PR machine never sleeps, making sure, as one executive put it, that "the good news about cancer must be emphasised, and if need be manufactured, to keep up public spirits and support for more money . . . without public interference in the use of the money".


Even more disconcerting is "the Cancer Establishment's" involvement in, support for and huge financial gain from the mammogram industry. Every woman is now being told that she is not looking after herself if she doesn't have a mammogram. However, Professor Epstein in his book Cancer-Gate: How to Win the Losing Cancer War shows how the industry is driven by big business interests with reckless disregard for the health of women and he says there is a 20 per cent increased risk of developing cancer from the radiation of mammograms alone.

For young women, it's even more dangerous, with a Canadian study showing a 52 per cent increase in early breast cancer deaths in women aged 40/50 who had had just ten annual mammograms (as compared to women who had been given old-fashioned physical examination).

Mammograms, he claims, are not only an unnecessary, highly polluting and expensive addition to the war on cancer, for many women they will prove lethal.

The people charged with protecting ordinary folk from cancer in the US are hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical companies, the book goes on to claim. One ex-director of a leading US cancer charity goes so far as to say that the charity has become "what amounts to a government pharmaceutical company", while Leland Hartwell, Nobel laureate, says: "Most [of its] resources are spent in promoting ineffective drugs for terminal disease."

Closer to home, we've had direct evidence of the combined might of the American food and chemicals lobby in the very recent castration of the REACH initiative in the EU , a piece of legislation which was to catalogue, categorise and assist in the phasing out of, all carcinogenic, immunotoxic and mutagenic chemicals and pesticides.

It will come as no surprise either to find out that the people responsible for the pollutants are among the richest in the US. As American activist and politician Ralph Nader put it, "jail for crime in the streets. Bail for crime in the suites". Professor Epstein and a group of like-minded people have been lobbying for 30 years for tougher laws to combat white collar crime and to tackle the "preoccupations with short-term economic growth to the detriment of . . .long-term public health".


If, at this point, you're feeling sick, don't give up, there are, says Professor Epstein, lots of things to be done to get the fight back going:

First, and foremost, arm yourself with information.

        Demand full, clear and simple-to-understand labelling of all carcinogenic and/or toxic ingredients in everything you, as a human being, come into contact with - from carpets to cosmetics to garden pesticides, to everything.

        Demand full labelling of all pesticides used in the growing of the food you eat, the residues still on, and, of course, switch to organic food as soon as your energy and wallet allow.

        Demand full labelling on all prescription drugs you may have to take. (Professor Epstein says prescription drugs may pose the single most important, and unrecognised, avoidable carcinogenic risk for the US population).

        Reduce your exposure to carcinogens, immunotoxins and radiation wherever and wheneverpossible.

        In your workplace, demand full and frank disclosure of all toxic problems, skin exposure, dust hazards, radiation hazards, toxic dumps etc.

On the wider front, the professor advocates that all industries should be made to disclose toxins they are using, and be made pay the clean-up costs. Similarly, government bodies and local authorities should be made give full account of any toxin they use or release. And all so-called cancer societies should be made publicly transparent and accountable.

The hundreds upon hundreds of reports that have been suppressed and 'lost' should be dug out and made publicly available, the professor says. And all safe and green technologies funded and assisted wherever possible.

With so many families now touched by the trauma of cancer and cancer death, he believes, that once people are given simple, understandable information on the entire issue the tide will, naturally, begin to turn.

People power will determine enough is enough.

The expert on cancer, and, cancer prevention says a huge proportion of cancers are avoidable and that the proliferation and growth of cancers throughout the industrialised world is because the "run away technologies" (petro-chemical, chemical pesticide, nuclear and now GM) have polluted our planet with carcinogens and immunotoxins, and, so far, got away with it.

The Cancer War is not being won, it is being lost, with cancer rates set to double by 2050. Lung cancers are decreasing, but all other cancers are increasing, some by over 100 per cent. No silver-bullet drug, or miracle cure has emerged, despite the expenditure of millions of dollars.

In America, cancer societies are so embedded with the 'cancer industry' that their focus is on the whole business of cancer rather than actually preventing people from being exposed to carcinogens in the first place. "They are more interested in making millions than in saving lives," Professor Epstein claims.

The only way to win the cancer war is for ordinary people to fight back and to demand carcinogenic and toxic ingredient labelling on all products they come into contact with. If it's carcinogenic, don't buy it. That, more than anything, will make the big guys sit up.

While Professor Epstein has written a wonderful book, it says very little about the role of the medical profession. Where does the medical profession stand in all of this? Do they stand behind the drug companies? But even with that omission, Cancer-Gate is the work of an extraordinary man.

'Cancer-Gate: How to Win theLosing Cancer War' by

Samuel S. Epstein MD is published by Baywood


- Rosita Sweetman