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Sat May 24 03:02:11 2003 Pacific Time
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      American Cancer Society Misleads Public in May 26 Discovery Health Channel Program, Warns Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman

       CHICAGO, May 24 (AScribe Newswire) -- In a one-hour special on the "Top 10 Cancer Myths," the American Cancer Society (ACS) will claim to set the record straight. However, these claims are seriously flawed.

       While admitting that number of people diagnosed with cancer is increasing, the ACS explains this away as due to aging of the population, and the frequency of cancer in the elderly. However, federal statistics adjusted for aging show a 24 percent increased incidence rate over the last three decades. What's more, most major increases have involved non-smoking related cancers. These cancers include: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, 87 percent; thyroid, 71 percent; testis, 67 percent; post-menopausal breast, 54 percent; and brain, 28 percent. More disturbing is the escalating incidence of childhood cancers: acute lymphocytic leukemia, 62 percent; brain, 50 percent; bone, 40 percent; and kidney, 14 percent. Of related interest is an analysis of leading causes of death from 1973 to 1999. Cancer has increased by 30 percent, while mortality from heart disease decreased by 21 percent.

       Worse still, the ACS has failed to inform the public about scientifically well-documented causes of a wide range of non-smoking related cancers. The ACS goes further by dismissing evidence on risks from domestic use of pesticides, although several studies have clearly shown a strong relationship with childhood cancers. In its recommendation for high vegetable, fruit, and grain diets, ACS ignores the fact that these, including baby foods, are highly contaminated with carcinogenic pesticides, while ignoring the availability of safe organic products. The ACS goes even further in dismissing such concerns. In its Cancer Facts and Figures 2002, ACS reassured that cancer risks from dietary pesticides, besides hazardous waste sites, and ionizing radiation from "closely controlled" nuclear plants, are at such low levels as to be "negligible."

       The "Cancer Myths" are consistent with its long-standing track record on prevention, policies, and conflicts of interest.

       In 1978, the ACS refused a Congressional request to support the Clean Air Act.

       In 1992, the ACS supported the Chlorine Institute by defending the continued use of carcinogenic chlorinated pesticides.

       In 1993, just before PBS aired the Frontline special, "In Our Children's Food," the ACS came out in support of the pesticide industry. In a damage-control memorandum, sent to some 48 regional divisions and their 3,000 local offices, the ACS trivialized pesticides as a cause of childhood cancer. ACS also reassured the public that food contaminated with carcinogenic pesticides is safe, even for babies.

       In 1994, the ACS published a highly flawed study designed to reassure women on the safety of dark permanent hair dyes, and to trivialize the risks of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast, and other cancers as documented in over six prior reports.

       Analysis of the 1998 ACS budget revealed that it allocated less than 0.1 percent of its $700 million revenues to "Environmental Carcinogenesis."

       In 2000, it was discovered that the ACS had close ties to PR firms for the tobacco industry Shandwick International, representing R.J. Reynolds Holdings, and Edelman, representing Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. These firms were promptly dismissed once the embarrassing news leaked out.

       This indifference or hostility of the ACS to cancer prevention is less surprising in view of its pervasive conflicts of interest with the cancer drug, petrochemical, power plants, and other industries.

       Not surprisingly, the authoritative U.S. charity watchdog, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, has warned against the transfer of money from the public purse to private hands. "The ACS is more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives."

       For a detailed critique of the ACS track record and policies, see the Cancer Prevention Coalition February 2003 "Stop Cancer Before It Starts Campaign" report at www.preventcancer.com; the report has been endorsed by some 100 leading experts in cancer prevention, and representatives of consumer, environmental, and activist groups.

       Web Site: www.preventcancer.com

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      Media Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, 2121 West Taylor St., M/C 922, Chicago, IL 60612; 312-996-2297; www.preventcancer.com; epstein@uic.edu.

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