Breast Cancer Awareness Month Misleads Women

On October 16 (AScribe Newswire), Chicago Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., and Samuel Epstein, M.D., provide the commentary that follows.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) launched National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in 1984, with its centerpiece National Mammography Day on October 17. Imperial Chemical Industries, a major global producer of petrochemicals, and its American subsidiary Zeneca Pharmaceuticals came up with the idea for and provided funding for the NBCAM. Despite being poisonous and carcinogenic, Tamoxifen is only produced by Zeneca and is said to lower the incidence of breast cancer.

“Early (mammography) detection results in a cure nearly 100% of the time,” the NBCAM reassured ladies. The NBCAM is specifically focused on claims that routine mammograms beginning at age 40 will help reduce the incidence and mortality of breast cancer.

Strong evidence that mammography raises high risks of breast cancer is still ignored by the ACS and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Four breast films taken annually as part of standard practice expose patients to about 1 rad (radiation absorbed dose), or 1,000 times the dosage from a single chest X-ray. With a cumulative 10% increased risk for each breast over ten years of screening, the risks of breast cancer rise by around 1% for every rad exposure. Additionally, the premenopausal breast is extremely radiation sensitive. Unsurprisingly, only the United States uses premenopausal mammography screening.

For the one to two percent of women who carry the A-T gene (ataxia telangiectasia) and are extremely sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation, the risks of premenopausal mammography are about four times higher. According to some estimates, this may be the cause of up to 20% of all breast cancer cases identified each year.

In addition to these issues, premenopausal women frequently overlook malignancies because of the density of their breasts.

The ACS acknowledged that most breast tumors are discovered by women in 1985. We need to remember that at least 90% of women with breast cancer find the tumors on their own. In addition, a review of numerous studies from 1993 revealed that women who routinely performed breast self-examination (BSE) found their tumors more earlier than women who did not. However, the effectiveness of BSE depends on instruction from knowledgeable experts, strengthened by a yearly professional clinical breast check. The ACS and radiologists reject BSE despite this data, saying that “no research have clearly proved the benefit of employing BSE.”

In an ACS advertising that claimed early detection by mammography results in a cure “almost 100% of the time,” a prominent Massachusetts newspaper published a picture of two women in their twenties. Journalist Kate Dempsey questioned an ACS spokesperson, and the response appeared in the journal Cancer of the Massachusetts Women’s Community. The advertisement isn’t based on a study. You only say what you can in an advertisement to entice ladies to your business. You overstate a point… Today, the mammography industry is successful [and] fiercely competitive. She is simply unquestionably correct.

Given this context, it is not unexpected that the NBCAM fails to tell women about ways to lower their chance of developing breast cancer. In reality, the ACS trivializes or ignores many of its preventable causes, which we are well aware of. Long-term usage of the Pill or estrogen replacement therapy are two examples.

high consumption of meat that has been heavily contaminated with strong natural or synthetic estrogens, or other sex hormones, which are implanted in cattle in feedlots prior to slaughter to increase muscle mass, and prolonged consumption of milk from cows that have been injected with a genetically modified growth hormone to increase milk production. This milk is tainted with high concentrations of a natural growth factor, which up to seven-fold increases the risk of breast cancer.

– Prolonged contact with a variety of hormonal substances that are not indicated in cosmetics and personal care items.

– Residing close to nuclear power facilities, petrochemical plants, power lines, and hazardous waste sites.

– Over a million women were exposed to carcinogens at work. These include DDT residues, phenylenediamine hair dyes, benzene, ethylene oxide, methylene chloride, and agricultural pesticides like ethylene oxide.

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AUTHORS/CONTACT: \s– Dr. Samuel S. Epstein is the chairman of the Chicago, Illinois-based Cancer Prevention Coalition and an emeritus professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. He may be reached at or by calling 312-996-2297.

– Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., Regent of the International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland;; Former President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Toronto, Canada

WARNING TO EDITORS The aforementioned commentary is immediately and freely usable. As a favor to the contributors, if used, please get in touch with Samuel Epstein, M.D.

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