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Chemical Industry Funds Breast Cancer Campaign

Chemical Manufacturer Zeneca

  • profits on drugs for treating cancer
  • produces carcinogenic pollutants
  • 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 and chlorinated organic products -- including the plastic ingredient, vinyl chloride -- which has been directly linked to breast cancer, and the pesticide Acetochlor.

In addition, Zeneca is the sole manufacturer of Tamoxifen, the world's top-selling cancer drug used for breast cancer. In return 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 Dr. Epstein.

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 women.

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.

The 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.


Mammography Radiates Doubt, Los Angeles Times

Awareness month keeps women perilously unaware Chicago Tribune

“Awareness Month” is Misinformation on Breast Cancer, press release

How to avoid breast cancer

For information about the first annual National Cancer Industry Awareness Month events, contact
Ayanna Young
847 W. Jackson,
Chicago, Illinois 60607

Take Action:
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

Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
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


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