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Avoidable Exposures: Patients

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Drug Manufacturers Avoid Scrutiny of Chemical Causes of Cancer by Promoting Mammography and Tamoxifen.


Press Release, October 14, 1996-- Commenting on the anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness month (NBCAM), Dr. Samuel Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) stated, "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." Dr. Epstein, a leading international authority on cancer causing effects of environmental pollutants, will be speaking on breast cancer prevention at a conference, "Women, Health, & the Environment" in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 14-15. It is sponsored by CPC, in conjunction with Greenpeace and Women’s Environmental and Development Organization (WEDO).

Zeneca Pharmaceutical, a U.S. subsidiary and recent spinoff of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), has been the sole funder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month since 1984. ICI is one of the largest manufacturers of petrochemical and chlorinated organic products, such as acetochlor and vinyl chloride, and the sole manufacturer of Tamoxifen, the world’s top-selling cancer drug used for breast cancer. Financial sponsorship by Zeneca/ICI gives them editorial control over every leaflet, poster, publication, and commercial produced by NBCAM. NBCAM is promoted by the cancer establishment, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) with their corporate sponsors.

ICI has supported the NCI/ACS blame-the-victim theory of the causes of breast and other cancers. This theory attributes escalating cancer rates to heredity and faulty lifestyle, rather than avoidable exposures to industrial carcinogens contaminating air, water, food, consumer products, and the workplace.

Dr. Epstein will summarize the evidence on avoidable environmental and other causes of breast cancer ignored in NBCAM promotional materials:

  • Since the 1950’s scientific evidence has incriminated chlorinated organic pesticides as breast cancer risk factors because of their carcinogenicity, estrogenic effects, and accumulation in body fat, particularly the breast.

  • The unregulated use of growth promoting hormonal cattle feed additives has resulted in near universal contamination of meat products. This results in life-long exposure to carcinogenic estrogens, and poses a major avoidable risk of breast cancer.

  • Where you work increases your breast cancer risks. Excess breast cancers were found in the 1970’s in women working with vinyl chloride. There is similar evidence among petrochemical and electrical workers. In spite of more women working in such industries, NCI recently admitted that it has still not investigated these risks among working women.

  • Where you live increases risks of breast cancer. Based on a review of 21 New Jersey counties, and more recently 339 nationwide counties, statistically significant associations were found between excess breast cancer mortality and residence in counties where hazardous waste sites are located.

  • Living near a nuclear facility increases your chances of dying from breast cancer. Based on a nationwide survey of 268 counties within 50 miles of 51 military and civilian nuclear reactors, CPC member Dr. Jay Gould, showed that breast cancer mortality in these "nuclear counties" has increased at 10 times the national rate from 1950 to 1989. Counties near military reactors, such as Hanford, Oak Ridge and Savannah River, have registered the greatest increases, ranging from 27 to 200%. Dr. Gould charged NCI with "misrepresentation of such findings."

  • Premenopausal mammography increases your risk of breast cancer. Increases in breast cancer mortality have been consistently reported following repeated mammograms in younger women in six randomized controlled clinical trials over the last decade. Based on this evidence, NCI has recently withdrawn recommendations for pre-menopausal mammography. ACS, with financial support from Dupont and General Electric (both heavily invested in mammography equipment), and self-interested radiologists are still promoting this dangerous practice.

  • Participation in the 1972 NCI/ACS reckless, high dose mammography experiments has increased breast cancer risks for the 400,000 women involved.

  • Breast implants, particularly polyurethane foam, pose serious risks of breast cancer. Evidence on the carcinogenicity of polyurethane foam dates back to the early 1960’s. One breakdown product of polyurethane is 2,4-toluenediamine which was removed from hair dyes in 1971 following discovery of its carcinogenicity. Frank admission of these risks are found in internal NCI, FDA and industry documents.

  • The Tamoxifen "chemoprevention" trial is a travesty! Since 1992, the cancer establishment recruited 16,000 healthy women in a Tamoxifen "chemoprevention" trial. NCI and ACS claimed in their patient consent forms that Tamoxifen could substantially reduce breast cancer risks, while trivializing risks of drug complications. There is 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.

" The ICI/NBCAM public relations campaign has prevented women from knowing of avoidable causes of breast cancer," concluded Dr. Epstein.

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Chicago, IL 60612

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