Been seeing a lot of pink ribbons lately? It’s a sure sign that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has rolled around again, an annual event recognized every October (since 1985) celebrating what I like to call – the pink fraud.
According to the U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. Unfortunately, these statistics are not only at epidemic proportion, but also create a vast market opportunity.
Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (prescribing synthecit estrogen only with progesterone) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk. In recent years, incidence rates have increased slightly by 0.5% per year.
This market opportunity is a definite monopoly created by some of the world’s largest corporations which, in fact, also produce and release the toxic organochlorine chemicals suspected of being a very real cause of breast cancer. All of these corporations, in one way or another, have a vested financial interest focused on the profitable businesses of cancer detection and treatment rather than promoting and advancing non-toxic prevention.
The sponsors of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month are the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and over a dozen other medical, governmental, and professional organizations.
The coalition’s trademark slogan is: “Early Detection is Your Best Protection.” Over the years there have been many slogans by different people/organizations including “Get Your Pink On” and “Helping At Every Step In The Journey”. Who can argue with those? Cancer bad. Protection good. It’s a no-brainer, right? Well, maybe we’d better take a closer look before we decide.
Perhaps the place to begin is to learn a bit about the history of this organization. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), or Breast Cancer Awareness Month as it was originally called, was the brainchild of a British chemical conglomerate called Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), which became Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, and today is known as AstraZeneca.
By their own admission, AstraZeneca has spent several million dollars on the NBCAM project.
The Pink Fraud: What’s Behind Their Interest in Breast Cancer?
For over 20 years, AstraZeneca was the manufacturer of one of the largest selling breast cancer drugs in the world: Nolvadex (tamoxifen citrate). However, AstraZeneca decided to stop making brand-name Nolvadex in 2006. Several other companies have chosen to make generic versions of tamoxifen. Sseveral manufacturers, including Mylan Laboratories, Treva Pharmaceuticals and Roxane Laboratories create these generic products.
Tamoxifen is not a cure for cancer. It has been heavily prescribed as a drug to lessen the risk of recurrence in women who have previously received treatment for breast cancer. It is also approved for use as a “risk reduction” drug (the FDA would not allow the term “prevention”), and prescribed to women with no presence of breast cancer, but are at elevated risk.
This drug was very profitable for AstraZeneca, with sales of over $400 million annually. However, tamoxifen is also a very controversial drug. It has significant side effects linked to uterine cancer, liver cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, eye damage, blood clots, and even breast cancer–the very condition it was created to treat!
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The Pink Fraud: But the Story Doesn’t Stop There.
AstraZeneca (ICI) is a chemical giant, and is one of the world’s top producers of organochlorides, which are chlorine-based industrial chemicals. The use of organochlorides is in the manufacture of a wide variety of compounds, including Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT.
Estrogens and organochlorine xenoestrogens are also known carcinogens, and studies have found they are specifically associated with increased incidence of breast cancer.
So here we have a corporation–a very large and profitable corporation with sales of $14 billion in 1998– that makes its money from industrial chemicals that cause cancer and drugs that treat (and potentially cause) cancer. Incidentally, they also have a large financial stake in cancer treatment centers.
This brings us to another major criticism of NBCAM: the focus of their efforts is almost exclusively on detection and treatment of breast cancer, not on prevention.
This only makes sense since their main financial backer is a huge corporation that makes a fortune off the treatment of a disease they contribute to causing.
But beyond that, breast cancer and cancers in general are best prevented through changes in diet and lifestyle, such as staying away from chemicals and drugs that cause cancer. The concern with this is that prevention is very inexpensive and, of course, not very profitable.
Another interesting thing about AstraZeneca’s relationship with NBCAM is that part of the arrangement allowed AstraZeneca to approve and/or veto any marketing materials related to NBCAM.
Thus, you will not find anything related to environmental causes of breast cancer or how to prevent it by avoiding exposure to them. The American Cancer Society minimizes the cancer risks from industrial chemicals and pesticides, and will not take a stand on environmental regulation. It is a very carefully controlled Public Relations ploy.
The Pink Fraud: Cancer Treatment – Big Business.
Cancer treatment is big business in the United States. Some have called it “The Cancer Industry” or “Cancer, Inc.” The corporate and financial connections form a long and winding road that goes far beyond the AstraZeneca saga, and include such giants as DuPont and General Electric. Mammograms are the big buzz word as of late, and the push is on for women to get them at a younger and younger age.
The threshold has now dropped to 40 years of age, even though there is no scientific evidence to show the need for or benefit of a routine mammogram for any woman under 50. In fact, some researchers believe that mammograms increase risk for breast cancer.
But the powers that be, such as the American Cancer Society, continue to feed this misinformation to the media. “Early Detection” is the war-cry, with next to nothing about breast cancer prevention so that there is nothing to detect.
Meanwhile, this mammogram frenzy creates a ton of money. One study estimated that there are two to three times more mammogram machines installed in the U.S. than are necessary.
General Electric sells more than $100 million worth of mammogram machines annually, and DuPont provides much of the film for these machines. Both of these companies aggressively market mammograms to younger women, and both are also financial supporters of the American Cancer Society.
So knowing what we know about NBCAM and Big Cancer, what is the best way to respond to the media and advertising onslaught of the “Pink Ribbon” campaign?
Is buying a vacuum cleaner or a box of crackers with a pink ribbon in it going to help at all in the fight against breast cancer? Actually, many consider it nothing more than free advertising and good PR for companies who come on-board.
The Pink Fraud: Three Fundamental Concerns.
First, any money donated is most likely going to be used to support organizations such as those discussed earlier in this article. The focus of the efforts is on detection and treatment, not on education that can help women to prevent the onset of breast cancer in the first place through healthy diet and lifestyle and avoidance of carcinogens.
Secondly, in many cases the amount of donations from these sponsors is very minimal. One study showed that while Clinique donated $10 from every $14 in sales during their “In the Pink” lipstick sales, many others gave next to nothing. American Express donated only one penny per transaction of any amount during “Charge for the Cure.”
Thirdly, the funds collected are poorly accounted for, and the way the campaigns advertise are very ambiguous. Confusing terms such as “net profits to charity” does not clearly explain that the donations are only promised for a limited time. Some sponsors have it set up so that the monies would be donated only after a certain sales quota is reached. Most of the time consumers are not aware of this.
The bottom line is that you should “Think Before You Pink.” Medicine has a long history of practices, drugs, and procedures that later turned as being not very smart and even very harmful. There was Thalidomide, Rezulin, Serzone, and Phlebotomy (bloodletting), just to list a few. The cancer industry is a multi-billion dollar business and admitting mistakes or treatments that cause more harm than good doesn’t bring in money. So don’t allow the media or anyone else to put you on a guilt trip if you don’t jump on the pink fraud bandwagon. Your time and energies are much better spent spreading the truth about non-toxic prevention and healthy lifestyle choices that can truly make an impact on this disease.
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