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Cancer Awareness

An important resource for reducing the chances of cancer.


The Secret History of the War on Cancer
By Devra Davis
(Basic Books; October 2007; Hardcover)

As early as 1936, the world’s leading cancer scientists understood that tobacco,
diagnostic and solar radiation, benzene, and hormones caused cancer. The preparation and conduct of World War II with its focus on immediate survival effectively sidetracked these early findings of cancer hazards.

Many more young people (those under 40 years of age) are getting cancer. One of the reasons may be the excessive use of x-rays in infants and children, and our failures to reduce exposures to other cancer hazards like those in urban air agents that can leach from some plastics. Earlier this year, the American College of Radiology advised against unnecessary and excessive use of CT and other and other forms if diagnostic radiation in children, warning that this will further add to the growing cancer burden in young people today.

Some of the first modern studies on workplace causes of cancer, the dangers of medical and environmental radiation and hormones, and the cancer-causing properties of tobacco and sunlight were carried out and published by scientists of Nazi-Germany. In June of 1945, Robert R. Kehoe, an Army captain who was a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), traveled throughout Germany gathering materials on this research for the U.S. Army and the British Secret Service. The chief of Section E from the Nazi war machine---the group responsible for developing and testing poison gas warfare---was released to Kehoe’s custody right after the war and never prosecuted. Sixty years later, the files about these facts remain unpublished.

When first reports emerged that coke oven workers had higher rates of lung cancer in the 1970’s, some suggested that this was because most of them were black. Not until similar findings showed up in white Mormon workers five years later, was the link between coke oven work and lung cancer established. While one in eight Americans today is black, one in three works in a blue collar job, and one in five lives within two miles of a hazardous waste site. This increased environmental burden has never been considered when trying to understand why rates of prostate, breast and colo-rectal cancer are so much higher in blacks than whites.

Aspartame, cell phone use, and Ritalin are all so far ”presumed innocent” in the War on Cancer because---say their defenders---there isn’t enough evidence to prove that they cause the disease. While some cancers(such as brain cancer) take 20 to 40 years to develop, there are deeply disturbing signs of the poor health in people who use these products and services. But the biggest problem remains that no one is collecting data on cancer cases in a way that will definitely reveal whether there is a direct link.

The life-saving test for cervix cancer, called the Pap smear, was not put into use for more than a decade after it was shown to save lives, because of fears that it would undermine the private practice of medicine. These delays led to the deaths or unnecessary surgery of millions of women, who succumbed to an illness that could have been avoided.

In 1954, the first director of the American Cancer Society, Clarence Cook Little, one of America’s leading geneticists, became the director of the Tobacco Industry Research Council. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter fired his health secretary, because Joe Califano dared target smoking and workplace cancer causes. With bi-partisan support, more than 40 million U.S. taxpayer dollars were spent trying to develop a safe cigarette until 1979. In 1992, the chief lobbyist for Pennsylvania’s American Cancer Society, resigned to work directly for the tobacco industry after securing passage of an arcane air pollution law that even today keeps that state the embarrassing ashtray of the northeast.

Though compelling evidence of the connection between smoking and cancer was
developed by the staff of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in the early 1950’s, the
industry-backed board of the ACS forbid release of this work for several years and only began serious efforts to curtail smoking after the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report came out in 1964. The American Medical Association continued working with the tobacco industry for more than two decades.

In the first six years of the 21st century, America has tripled the amount of some asbestos products it imports from Mexico, taking two-thirds of the world supplies for asbestos sheet cement. The EU has banned asbestos, along with Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Japan, Argentina, and Gabon. As of this writing, America has not. Today half of all women and a third of all men with mesothelioma—a rare tumor thought to be caused solely by asbestos--- have never worked with the material.

Major chemical companies bought up and moved the small, mostly African-American,
contaminated Louisiana delta towns of Mossville and Reveilletown without admitting any responsibility for their pollution, pointing to the absence of information on alleged hazards as proof that no such damage occurred. Both the land and the residents’ bodies bear the scar of this, leaving children born without faces and massive environmental poisoning in small desolate rural areas. These same firms have also mounted sophisticated public relations campaigns (masquerading as cutting edge science) to case doubt about environmental hazards by undermining reports in the dangers of vinyl chloride, asbestos and other petrochemical residues for workers, their families and communities---a technique borrowed from the tobacco industry that remains vitally alive.

From 1929 until the late 1960’s, the founder of modern industrial hygiene in America, Robert R. Kehoe, Medical Director of Ethyl, and regular advisor to American Cyanamid and many major chemical companies, including lead in gasoline, chemicals used to fireproof pots and pans, cancerous residues in paraffin wax as used in milk cartons, the manufacturer of rubber and coke, and many other industrial hazards. Like most contact research on worker health and safety---then as now---results of this work remained hidden from the workers and the public.

Some distinguished academic leaders in the efforts against cancer in the U.S., England, Sweden and France (including Sir Richard Doll of Oxford University, Hans-Olav Adami of the Karolinska Institute, and Dmitri Trichopoulos of Harvard School of Public Health) secretly worked for the chemical industry for years, and didn’t disclose these ties when publishing research or providing government advice on subjects of direct interest to their employers. It is reasonable to ask whether the stringent criteria they established for proving harm with human evidence---now the standard for public health research---reflect the generous secret support they received over the years to cast doubt on many major industrial hazards.

Novartis, ICI, and a number of highly profitable multi-national firms have played it both ways, making billions from the production of agents known to cause breast and other cancers and from drugs that treat the disease.

The punishments meted out to war criminals after World War II did not extend to
German rocket scientists or to senior officials of some U.S. German shell chemical firms, Such as EthylGemeinschaft, (Ethyl Corporation was owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey and General Motors), which operated with some slave labor. Contrary to the U.S. War Department orders, American companies gave firms in Germany, Italy and Japan, the know-how to produce leaded gasoline and synthetic rubber, without which they would have been unable to go to war against America. Nazi scientists devised cruel methods for studying the cancer-causing properties of these and other compounds in their workers, many of whom lived and died in concentration camps that were joint production facilities.

Related Links

Learn more about Devra Davis, go to her website www.devradavis.com

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute - Center for Environmental Oncology

Order the Book " The Secret History of the War on Cancer Order Book

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Baughman Chiropractic Clinic and Nutritional Services
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724.836.5408 + Email: askingdrjim@gmail.com