March 25, 2011; Source: World-Wire | A recently published report challenges the American Cancer Society’s efforts to prevent cancer. The report, “More Interested in Accumulating Wealth than Saving Lives,” was authored by Dr. Samuel Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. It has been endorsed by the chair of the House Judiciary committee and medical policy research group.
The report tracks major conflicts of interest within the organization. Over half of the national board of directors is medical professionals who obtain funding from ACS, as well as the National Cancer Institute, the Federal Government’s principal agency for research and training.
Conflicts of interest are also evident in the ACS program priorities, according to the report. Its breast cancer prevention initiative encourages women to have regular mammograms; ACS claims this is their best hope to prevent this form of cancer. ACS advertisements in Massachusetts recently featured two women in their twenties; the ads promised that early detection results in a cure nearly “100 percent of the time.”
The national organization lists five radiologists on its board and has strong ties with major manufacturers of mammography equipment like Eastman Kodak and General Electric.
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Other health organizations question the need and risk of annual mammograms. The National Academy of Science warns the breast is highly sensitive to radiation and annual checkups can increase breast cancer risk by 10 percent. Additionally, The U.S. Prevention Task Force has recently recommended that routine mammograms should be delayed until the age of 50 and practiced every two years until the age of 75.
But ACS dismisses minimally, non-toxic alternatives as “unproven.” The report also lists ACS major business donors who manufacture and sell products containing carcinogenetic ingredients.
From 1998 to 2002, ACS hired two public relation firms whose clients list also included several tobacco and fast food industry leaders. The contracts of both firms were dismissed when this relationship was revealed by the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
In a December 2009 article published in the New York Times, the ACS claimed to adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. But, the report refutes the accomplishments of the organization and outlines a “reckless record” in cancer prevention over four decades. Cancer will continue to affect the lives of millions individuals while the actions of the ACS appear to be eroding years of public support and confidence.—Nancy Knoche