Chemical Manufacturer Zeneca
- profits on drugs for treating cancer
- produces carcinogenic
- funds misinformation on mammography,
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Since 1985, Zeneca Pharmaceuticals has been the sole funder of
October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). Zeneca has promoted a blame-the-victim strategy to explain away escalating
breast cancer rates, which ignores the role of avoidable carcinogens.
Zeneca's parent company, Imperial Chemical Industries
(ICI), is one of the world's largest manufacturers of petrochemical
organic products -- including the plastic ingredient, vinyl chloride
-- which has been directly linked to breast cancer, and the pesticide
In addition, Zeneca is the sole
manufacturer of Tamoxifen, the world's top-selling cancer drug
used for breast cancer. In
for funding the "awareness" campaign, ICI/Zeneca has
control and veto power over every poster, pamphlet and commercial
produced by NBCAM.
A decade-old multi-million dollar deal between National Breast
Cancer Awareness Month sponsors and Imperial Chemical Industries
(ICI) has produced reckless misinformation on breast cancer," said
This is the 10th year of NBCAM. The Board
of Sponsors for the "Awareness
Month" include the National Cancer Institute (NCI), American
Cancer Society (ACS), and American College of Radiology.
More than 40,000 women a year die of breast cancer. The public
relations campaign for NBCAM promotes a blame-the-victim strategy
by telling women that the causes of breast cancer are their own
heredity, fatty diets, and hormones. These factors, however, account
for only about 20 percent of breast cancers, and cannot be responsible
for the high increase in breast cancer rate over the last few decades. "The
ICI/NBCAM public relations campaign has kept information on avoidable
causes of breast cancer from the public," said Dr. Epstein.
Avoidable environmental and industrial causes of breast cancer
include: carcinogenic chlorinated pesticides; contamination of
meat with carcinogenic estrogens from growth promoting hormonal
cattle feed additives; working in the petrochemical and electrical
industries; residence close to hazardous waste sites; and residence
close to nuclear facilities.
Additionally, silicone breast implants pose unrecognized risks
to nearly 2 million women. Particularly vulnerable are women who
have implants wrapped in polyurethane foam. These risks are clearly
recognized in confidential documents of the implant industry and
the Food and Drug Administration.
NBCAM's promotional materials are almost entirely devoted to
the benefits of early detection. The cornerstone of NBCAM is National
Mammogram Day, which was held on October 19.
But CPC Board Member Judy Brady, charged
that NBCAM "is a
public relations invention by a major polluter which puts women
in the position of being unwitting allies of the very people who
are making them sick."
While recognizing the benefits of screening for post-menopausal
women, there are a number of serious problems with mammography,
particularly in pre-menopausal women. Currently, there is no
scientific evidence of any benefits of mammography in pre-menopausal
As importantly, increases in breast cancer mortality have been
consistently reported following repeated mammograms in younger
women in a series of U.S. and international clinical trials over
the last decade. Based on this evidence, NCI has recently withdrawn
recommendations for pre-menopausal mammography.
Still, NBCAM claims that for mammography, "the level of radiation
used today is quite low and is not harmful."
CPC charged that National Mammography Day is riddled with conflicts
of interest. National Mammography Day is sponsored primarily by
the American College of Radiology, and ACS, which is strongly supported
by giant industries. These include General Electric, which makes
mammography machines, and DuPont Corporation, which produces the
film for the mammography screening. These companies have specifically
targeted pre-menopausal women with high-pressured advertisements.
ACS has distributed its own information
on breast cancer awareness to help "inform" women.
But all 10 questions of its informational quiz designed to educate
the public are limited to issues of early
detection and mammography. Not one question discusses avoidable
cancer risks and breast cancer prevention.
Tamoxifen "Prevention" Travesty
The only effort at cancer prevention by NBCAM is its Tamoxifen
prevention trial. Zeneca Pharmaceuticals is the sole manufacturer
of Tamoxifen. Since 1992, the cancer establishment has recruited
16,000 healthy women for the trial. NCI and ACS claimed in their
patient consent forms that Tamoxifen could substantially reduce
breast cancer risks, while trivializing risks of drug complications.
The evidence that Tamoxifen can prevent breast cancer is wildly
optimistic and scientifically tenuous. There is also strong evidence
of Tamoxifen's toxicity, including high risks of uterine, gastrointestinal
and fatal liver cancer.
"This trial is scientifically and ethically reckless,
and participating institutions and clinicians are at serious
risk of future malpractice
claims," warned Dr. Epstein.
Radiates Doubt, Los Angeles Times
keeps women perilously unaware Chicago Tribune
“Awareness Month” is
Misinformation on Breast Cancer, press release
avoid breast cancer
For information about the first annual National Cancer Industry
Awareness Month events, contact
847 W. Jackson,
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Voice your opinion directly to National Breast Cancer Awareness
Month's sponsors about their lack of information on avoidable causes
of breast cancer. They can be reached at the following locations:
American Cancer Society
1180 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
National Cancer Institute
9000 Rockville Pike, Bldg. 31, Room 10A03
Bethesda, MD 20892; 301-496-6667
American College of Radiology
1891 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20091
1800 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19897
Cancer Prevention Coalition
University of Illinois at Chicago
School of Public Health
2121 W. Taylor St., MC 922
Chicago, IL 60612