- Misreports Funding
- Inaccurate claims of research on cancer
prevention are uncovered.
In 1998, the ACS claimed that it funded
nineteen large research grants on"
Environmental Carcinogenesis," at a cost of $2.6 million— 0.4
percent of its
$678 million revenues, apart from $873 million assets. However,
majority of these grants were in molecular biology; only three,
funded for a total
of $330,000 (less than 0.1 percent of revenues), reasonably
qualified as environ-mental
cancer research. The American Cancer Society (ACS) also claimed
that it funded 92 "Prevention" grants,
with $23 million. Again, these largely dealt with molecular
with $2.4 million allocated to tobacco and diet, excluding
any consideration of
contamination with carcinogenic (besides other toxic) pesticides.
A recent report
has confirmed that concentrations of toxic and carcinogenic
including DDT, are three times higher in conventional foods
than in organic foods
(26). The ACS is even more dismissive than the NCI in its understanding
and priorities on primary cancer prevention. In Cancer Facts
and Figures 2002,
the ACS blandly reassures readers that cancer risks from ditary
hazardous waste sites, ionizing radiation from "closely controlled" nuclear
and nonionizing radiation are all at such low levels as to
be "negligible" (27).
In striking contrast to the ACS's indifference to cancer prevention,
2002, the Canadian Cancer Society unequivocally affirmed the
principle "to develop our cancer prevention and risk reduction
However, in its September 2001 "Discussion Document," the
effectively rejected this principle, as recently criticized
by the Canadian
Environmental Law Association, in favor of a cost-benefit and
The Canadian Cancer Society has also joined with the Sierra Club
of Canada in
demanding a ban on the "cosmetic" use of carcinogenic
pesticides for the home,
garden, lawn, and recreational facilities (30). The Minister of
MacLellan, promptly rejected this demand, claiming that "there
is no evidence
to support such a case. Pesticides are registered only if their
risks have been
determined to be acceptable when used according to instructions" (31).
such pesticide uses are being withdrawn in the United States, in
part because of
requirements of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act and, in considerable
because Canada has no U. S.-type legal liability deterrents.
The ACS track record raises grave concerns
about special interests and conflicts
of interest, in sharp opposition to the public interest (Appendix
I). Dr. John Durant,
former ASCO (American Society for Clinical Oncology) executive,
president (awarded the 2002 ASCO Presidential U. S. Cancer Fighter
of the Year award), charged: "It has always seemed to me that
was an issue of control by the ACS over the cancer agenda. They
their own fundraising capacity" from competition by survivor
groups (quoted in
43). These conflicts of interest extend to the personal. The NDC
Committee cochair, Dr. DeVita, is board chair of CancerSource.
com, a Web site
promoting the ACS Consumers' Guide to Cancer Drugs; other Legislative
Committee members also serve on the board. These members have thus
their own special interests in a publicly funded forum.
An increasing proportion of ACS revenues come
from the pharmaceutical, cancer drug, mammography film and machine,
and biotechnology industries.
This is reflected in generous ACS allocations for research on highly
patented cancer drugs and aggressive promotion of pre-menopausal
In striking contrast, less than 0.1 percent of revenues are allocated
to environmental, occupational, and other avoidable causes of
surprisingly, and unambiguously, the authoritative U. S. charity
Chronicle of Philanthropy, warned against the transfer of money
from the public
purse to private hands: "The ACS is more interested in accumulating
than saving lives" (quoted in 44, p. 566).
More seriously, ACS policies on primary cancer
prevention extend from
a decades-long track record of indifference to frank hostility,
by pro-industry bias (Appendix I). This even extends to the tobacco
Shandwick International, representing R. J. Reynolds, and Edelman
representing Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, have been
relations firms for the NDC Legislative Committee in rewriting
Cancer Act (45).
The highly politicized and nontransparent agenda
of the ACS is troubling.
This is further exemplified by its direct governmental lobbying.
are questionably legal donations to Democratic and Republican governors'
We wanted to look like players and be players," an ACS representative
admitted (quoted in 44, p. 568).
The ACS has clearly disqualified itself from
any future leadership role in
the National Cancer Program, which should remain under NCI control.
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Excerpted from THE CRISIS IN U. S. AND INTERNATIONAL
by Samuel S. Epstein, Nicholas A. Ashford, Brent Blackwelder,
Barry Castleman, Gary Cohen, Edward Goldsmith, Anthony Mazzocchi,
and Quentin D. Young, International Journal of Health Services
Volume 32, No. 4, 2002
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
Cancer Prevention Coalition
University of Illinois at Chicago
School of Public Health
2121 W. Taylor St., MC 922
Chicago, IL 60612