Prestigious International Award for U.S. Expert Who Advocates Emphasis on Cancer Prevention Rather Than Just on Damage Control Diagnosis and Treatment



CHICAGO and STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden:

Prof. Samuel Epstein, M.D., the world-renowned authority on the causes and prevention of cancer and critic of the U.S. cancer establishment, the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society, has been named a 1998 winner of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize."

Dr. Epstein will be presented his award at a December 9 ceremony at the Swedish Parliament, Stockholm, where he will deliver an address "LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS FOR REVERSING THE CANCER EPIDEMIC." He has been invited subsequently to meet with senior members of the European Parliament and European Commission in Brussels on December 10 and 11 to discuss his proposed legislative initiatives for cancer prevention.

Epstein, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chairman of The Cancer Prevention Coalition, will receive the award for his "exemplary life of scholarship, wedded to activism on behalf of humanity." For more than three decades, Epstein has campaigned against environmental pollution from run-away petrochemical and other industrial technologies. He has shown these to be major avoidable causes of cancer, the incidence of which has escalated to epidemic proportions over recent decades. He has argued strongly for strategies based on cancer prevention rather than on virtual exclusionary emphasis on damage control -- diagnosis and treatment -- particularly as survival rates for most common cancers have not significantly improved for decades. In incriminating environmental pollutants for much avoidable cancer and in campaigning for toxics use reduction, Epstein -- and in recent years the Cancer Prevention Coalition which he founded -- have pressured governments and corporations to take greater responsibility for product safety and environmental protection. Epstein has thereby made an incomparable contribution to the prevention of a disease that is now responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths in industrialized countries and is increasing worldwide.

Epstein has emerged as the leading international champion for cancer prevention, and for winning the losing war against cancer by preventing or reducing avoidable exposures to industrial carcinogens in air, water, consumer products -- food, cosmetics and toiletries, and household products -- and the work place.

He has conducted extensive basic and applied research on the carcinogenic and other chronic toxic effects of environmental and occupational industrial pollutants. His some 260 scientific publications date back to the early 1960s. His best known book, "The Politics of Cancer" (1978) won the Notable Book and other awards.

Epstein has played an important role as president or founder of professional societies, especially of the more activist kind and a major role in public interest groups including as president of the Rachel Carson Council. He also has acted as a consultant, including drafting legislation, to a number of congressional committees. His extensive media experience includes contributing editorials for leading newspapers and numerous appearances on major TV and radio programs.

Epstein's most recent surge of activity arose from his precedential February 4, 1992 initiative, when 65 eminent public health experts, including past directors of Federal agencies, joined with him at a Washington, D.C., press conference in releasing a statement on "Losing the War against Cancer: Need for Public Policy Reforms." The statement emphasized that the overall incidence of cancer had increased by 54% since 1950, with increases up to 200% for some cancers, including non-smoking related cancers. The statement blamed this increase on the failure of the "cancer establishment" -- the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) -- for their, not always benign, indifference to cancer prevention, and for periodic misleading and exaggerated claims for dramatic improvement in treatment for common cancers which rarely, if ever, have been substantiated. The statement also called for drastic reforms of NCI and ACS policies and priorities. The only response of the cancer establishment was a campaign of personal villification and scientific "McCarthyism."

Out of this initiative was born the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC), which pursues a comprehensive strategy of outreach, education and advocacy to establish prevention as the nation's top cancer policy. The long-term objective of CPC is to reverse modern epidemic cancer rates to their pre-1940 levels. Epstein's book (with Steinman and Levert) "The Breast Cancer Prevention Program," a second edition of which was published by Macmillan in October 1998, details a wide range of scientifically established ways by which women of any age can reduce their risks of breast cancer. This book poses a direct challenge to the NCI and ACS who maintain that there is no way of preventing breast cancer.

In an invited March 1998 submission to Congress, Epstein presented his critique of the U.S. cancer establishment whose failed policies "in no small measure have been a critical factor in escalating cancer rates over recent decades." Evidence for these and other charges, including conflicts of interest, have been fully documented in Epstein's November 1998 book, "The Politics of Cancer Revisited." As importantly, the book details practical methods for winning the losing war against cancer based on both personal initiatives for reducing avoidable carcinogenic exposures, and also on political initiatives, particularly the "right-to-know" and toxics use reduction. For more information see web site, http://www.preventcancer.com.

SOURCE The Right Livelihood Award Foundation

CO: Right Livelihood Award Foundation; University of Illinois at Chicago; Cancer Prevention Coalition

1998