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(Intro to Race for the Cure? Run for the Money!)
this ticket anywhere. You’re already in Crazyworld."
I recently read this sentence on a public service advertisement
that was printed on an oversized movie ticket. The poignancy of
the statement didn’t elude me. A few years ago I would have
found this statement amusing; today it resonates to my core.
I’ve survived 10 operations in 11 years. I’ve lost both
breasts, my thyroid, uterus and cervix. I’m living with persistent
hypertension, an enlarged heart and a 75 lb. pound weight gain.
I’m dependent on 5 pills a day whose costs are skyrocketing
at this very moment. But hey, I’m one of the lucky ones --
so I’m told.
Perhaps I’m just another unfortunate woman who didn’t
make the right lifestyle choices. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken
those birth control pills for so many years. Maybe I waited too
long to have children. Maybe I ate too much meat or not enough fish.
Or maybe our government and public health officials have filled
our heads with so much bullshit we wouldn’t know the truth
if it bit us in the ass!
What’s that you say, I sound angry? Yeah, well you haven’t
heard the really infuriating part yet. You haven’t heard the
part about the medical bureaucracy being scarier than the diseases
I’ve battled or that the medical system consistently contributed
to my pain and suffering rather than alleviate it. Of the 10 operations
I endured, only 4 were necessary. The others were overt mistakes,
corrective surgery for those mistakes, or arbitrary and often poor
decisions made by physicians while key information and options were
not made available to me.
While I was journeying through this insane parallel universe, the
message I kept getting from society in general was to pull myself
together and get on with my life. When I looked for accountability
for what I had endured, I was told to file lawsuits against those
who had caused me undue pain and injury. How does one go about suing
several doctors, a hospital and a major breast implant company while
risking financial ruin in the process, without feeling like each
day is a living hell and without going out of your freaking mind?
there’s depression. Just when you think you’ve survived
the worst, the quiet malice of depression sets in. Depression and
I frequently engage in a very dangerous dance. I allow it to creep
into my life as long as it doesn’t threaten to destroy me.
As I embrace depression, I sometimes peer into its mouth and pray
it won’t swallow me up. If depression does take its hold,
you get sent to a shrink of some sort, highly trained in the male
dominant, allopathic sciences, who will prescribe antidepressants
to help you make it through the day and to suppress any suicidal
inclinations you may have. But wait -- you pick-up your bottle of
antidepressants and written on the bottle is the following:
"Patients with major depressive disorder, both adult and pediatric,
may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence
of suicidal ideation and behavior . . . "
You’re screwed. You and I are both in Crazyworld.
RACE FOR THE CURE?
RUN FOR THE MONEY!
is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a time when there’s
an endless eruption of pink ribbons, a time when we all put on our
pink wigs, shirts, socks, running shoes, dig deep into our pockets
and run like hell for the sake of breast cancer awareness.
How many years will it take of running in pink races and throwing
money at the problem before corporate America and government health
officials are satisfied that Americans get the breast cancer message?
How dense do they think we are? We know -- we get it. We’re
the ones whose bodies and lives are being ravaged by this disease.
What we want to know is WHY women are suffering and dying from breast
cancer when more and more money and research are supposedly directed
toward finding a cure? The equation is not balanced. The numbers
don’t add up.
BREAST CANCER IS A MULTI-BILLION
I’ll tell you why breast cancer is alive and well today. It’s
because it has become a multi-billion dollar industry and finding
a cure doesn’t fit into the equation. The October fanfare
called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was carefully
constructed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. They manufacture
two of the most popular breast cancer drugs in the United States,
Nolvadex (tamoxifen) and Arimidex (anastrozole). Up until recently,
AstraZeneca was the third largest producer of pesticides in the
United States. They also have final say over any literature related
to NBCAM. Most of that messaging is limited to early detection and
reminding women to get their mammograms. There’s never any
information on why women are increasingly developing the disease
and dying from it.
The Susan G. Komen annual "Race for the Cure" is one of
AstaZeneca’s fundraising tools which generates a great deal
of money sponsored by some of the biggest polluters, Oxychem (formerly
Occidental Chemicals), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ford Motor Company,
Chevron and PG&E to name a few. The money generated by events
like Race for the Cure frequently ends up back in the coffers of
these same corporate polluters in the name of breast cancer drug
research and development.
One of the key sponsors of Race for the Cure for several years was General Mills, Yoplait yogurt. Until August 2009, Yoplait used dairy products containing the genetically engineered growth hormone, Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST). Studies have found an increased risk of both prostate and breast cancer with the ingestion of milk from rBST treated cows. Yet, Yoplait, for many years, proudly displayed a pink ribbon on each of their sleekly designed containers advertising the promise of proceeds being directed toward eradicating breast cancer. It was only due to consumer pressure through grassroots organizations like Breast Cancer Action (BCA) that General Mills finally conceded to use milk from cows not treated with rBST in the production of Yoplait yogurt.
Then there’s the standardized public messaging collaboratively
crafted between industry and government which very carefully and
pointedly dumps all responsibility of cancer risks squarely onto
the shoulders of each individual. There’s never a finger that
points to environmental pollution which would then point a finger
at industry and public health agencies. Let’s examine the
major risk factors generated by public health institutions.
RISK FACTORS GENERATED BY PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTIONS
Aging - This is usually at the top of the list of
breast cancer risk factors. This gives you an idea of how little
our experts really know about the disease. Think about it. Doesn’t
the risk for most diseases increase with age? This hardly seems
to be based on rigid science.
Family history of breast
cancer - Public health officials would have you
believe that a family history of breast cancer points to genetics
as a major contributor to your risk factors. The truth is, a family
history points more to environmental factors than genetics. Only
about 5 - 10% of all breast cancers can be associated with heredity.
This means that 90 - 95% of all breast cancers are connected to
environmental factors shared by other family members living together.
As indicated previously, up to 10% of all breast cancers are associated
with heredity. The primary genetic link found so far is in the BRCA1
and BRCA2 genetic mutation found in about 5% of breast cancer patients.
But even a genetic predisposition for the disease does not guarantee
you will ever develop breast cancer. The disease is still triggered
by environmental factors.
Early menstruation or late
menopause - This implies that the longer you have
increased estrogen and hormonal fluctuations surging through you,
the more likely you are to develop breast cancer. This may be true
but it doesn’t make clear "where" these hormones
are coming from. It defies logic to assume the estrogen produced
by our own bodies has suddenly turned deadly. Our bodies appear
to be over producing estrogen. So where is this extra estrogen coming
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreign estrogens (xenoestrogens)
in the environment caused by man-made chemicals that are binding
to our own estrogen receptors and fooling the body into responding
to it as a natural hormone (e.g., plastics, cosmetics, pesticides,
etc.). What’s more likely to be harmful, your body’s
own natural estrogen that has evolved over hundreds of thousands
of years or a man-made chemical developed within the last hundred
replacement therapy is another source of xenoestrogen exposure.
Doctors tell us our own body's natural estrogen may increase our
risk for breast cancer. Then they turn around and routinely prescribe
There is definitely a correlation between estrogen levels and body
fat. Obese women do tend to have higher estrogen levels than their
leaner counterparts. Obesity, however, is not the only estrogen
determinant. Women who are physically active have higher estrogen
levels as well as women with greater muscle mass.
As mentioned previously, women are also exposed to many synthetic
hormones. One example is the hormones given to the animals we eat
such as cattle. Hormones are given to cattle to fatten them up.
We then eat the beef and ingest these hormones. What is to prevent
us from being fattened-up as well?
Toxins are also stored in fat. A significant amount of the breast
is composed of fat. More breast fat also corresponds with larger
amounts of stored toxins. It’s also important to remember
that many toxins stored in breast tissue may not only be toxic,
but estrogenic as well.
Delayed childbirth (after
age 30) - This risk factor seems to also implicate
estrogen as a sinister agent. There’s actually much more going
on here. Information known to the scientific community has been
intentionally withheld from the American public concerning breast
development and breast cancer risk. The female breast is not fully
matured until after the first full-term pregnancy. Immature breasts
are more vulnerable to breast cancer. In line with this fact, research
has shown that women having a first child before age 20 have a lower
than average breast cancer risk. To avoid promoting teen pregnancy,
30 became the arbitrary age cut-off to have a first child before
a woman’s breast cancer risk increased significantly. This
ignores data indicating it has been increasing since age 20.
Smoking has only been recently added to the list of breast cancer
risks. Frankly, I don’t know why it hasn’t always been
on the list. It’s a known carcinogen and smoking is associated
with early menopause and is known to promote the aging process.
Aging, you’ll remember, is usually the first risk factor listed
for breast cancer.
Alcohol is another new addition to the list of breast cancer risk
factors. This is based on several large studies including a new
study involving 61,463 Swedish women. The Swedish study divided
women’s dietary habits into three categories, Western Diet,
Healthy Diet, and the Drinker Diet. As implied by the title, women
categorized under the Drinker Diet were heavy drinkers. We already
know that large amounts of alcohol is very unhealthy. Blood estrogen
levels appear to increase with regular, heavy alcohol consumption
and may contribute to breast cancer risks. Again, I don’t
see this as breakthrough information. When I was growing up I noticed
that some of the male friends and family members I encountered who
were alcoholics often had overdeveloped breasts once they hit middle-age.
At the age of 10 I figured out there was probably a connection.
History of breast biopsies
revealing pre-cancerous conditions - If you already
have a diagnosed pre-cancerous breast condition then you are obviously
at greater risk for breast cancer in the future.
DIRECT RISK FACTOR THAT IS OFTEN
NOT ON THE LIST...
Ionizing radiation is the only known cause of breast cancer yet it is often not on the list of risk factors.
the direct link between radiation and breast cancer, we certainly
know that any exposure to radiation increases your chances of developing
the disease. So why isn’t it included as a risk factor? Perhaps
the powers-that-be are afraid women would start asking too many
questions, like, "Why is radiation used as a screening tool
and as a breast cancer treatment if it is a direct cause of the
disease?" Women might begin questioning the frequency of dental
and chest x-rays and other risks to which they are unnecessarily
being subjected. If women finally woke up to the deceit and environmental
oppression being perpetuated upon them and their children, they
might take to the streets in large numbers and demand accountability
and justice. "Big Brother" certainly wouldn’t like
TIME magazine came out with a breast cancer story in October 2005
that followed a woman through the first year and a half recovery
after being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was more of a photo
story than a narrative. The woman is young, slender and attractive.
The photo of her bald chemo profile is almost glamorous. The article
begins by saying the woman was 39 years old when he was diagnosed
and was the picture of perfect health. She’s a non-smoker,
a marathon runner, had her children in her 20’s, checked her
breasts every month and guess what? She still got breast cancer
in both breasts.
You turn the page and there’s a series of black and white
photos of her receiving loving support from her family. In another
shot she’s being examined for, what appears to be, the perfect
breast reconstruction. The only photo of her in any pain or "discomfort"
(I hate that word) is a photo of her grimacing while her breast
expander is being filled with saline -- a preliminary procedure
necessary to stretch the chest wall in preparation for an implant.
As a breast cancer veteran myself, I can say with certainty that
increasing the breast expander was the least of my painful breast
The last photo in the series is a touching one of the breast cancer
veteran, now with hair, displaying a wide-open smile while her daughter
gently cups her mother’s chin in her hand. The series ends
with a quote from the now recovered breast cancer patient, "It’s
been the worst and the greatest year and a half of my life. I wouldn’t
trade It." I wonder if she’d feel the same way if she
knew her daughter would have to face the same fate. Statistics indicate
it would probably be even worse for her daughter. She’s at
greater risk for developing the disease at an earlier age while
quality medical care is declining. I wouldn’t wish these circumstances
on my worst enemy.
Don’t get me wrong; I truly feel for this woman. I too have
lost both breasts because of this disease. But we both have been
sold a bill of goods. She is under the delusion that all that can
be done is being done for her health and welfare. Nothing could
be further from the truth.
Many women who initially win the breast cancer battle run a significant
risk of having a reoccurrence within 5 years of their diagnosis.
In addition, if they have had chemo, radiation and hormonal therapy,
each treatment increases the risk of having a secondary cancer.
All three treatments are carcinogenic. Even if a woman manages to
survive all this, she often suffers from depression and even Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Then there are husbands who leave,
children who are traumatized, and the loss of jobs and health insurance.
Why didn’t TIME cover this story?
TREATMENTS TO TREAT, BUT NOT
CURE, THE SAME DISEASES
CHEMICAL COMPANIES HELPED TO CREATE...
Chemical companies create poisons that perpetuate disease. Then
their pharmaceutical subsidiaries develop overpriced treatments
to treat, but not cure, the same diseases they helped to create.
What an ingenious self perpetuating system. Representatives from
these corporations often end-up working for the EPA, FDA or other
government overseeing agencies. Representatives from major pharmaceutical
companies sit on grant review boards on any given day at the National
Cancer Institute (NCI) and decide who gets money to develop new
cancer drugs without any question of overall conflict of interest.
I have sat on these panels where a clear conflict of interest not
only goes unchallenged but has become part of the modus operandi.
Monsanto Corporation has managed to single-handedly ensure that
most of us are unknowingly eating genetically modified food. Did
you know that the popular sweetener, aspartame, is a genetically
engineered product developed by Monsanto biotechnology? Probably
not. It’s certainly not mentioned in any ad campaign I’ve
So the next time someone asks you to "Race for the Cure,"
run the "Relay for Life," or donate money to a worthy
breast cancer cause, ask who the sponsors are and follow the money
trail. Too often it ends up right back in the corporate coffers.
Try to find organizations that direct their funding to promote effective
public education, environmental research, and policy change based
on the Precautionary Principle.*
BLOG TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE
The next time someone says you can reduce your risk for breast cancer
by changing your lifestyle, tell them you choose to eliminate pollution
from the air, water and soil.
Tell them you choose to get rid of the harmful additives, hormones
and antibiotics in foods.
Tell them you choose not to be sold GM and nanotech products
without your knowledge and consent.
The next time someone says, "We’re winning the war on
ask them why the incident rate is now 1 in 7.
Ask them why the words "carcinogen" and "environment"
are rarely used when referring to any form of cancer when we know
they contribute to most forms of cancer.
Ask them why state and federal agencies established to protect the
have become mindless puppets of the multi-billion dollar corporations.
Then try to set a course that promises to lead to some real answers.
Educate, legislate and perpetuate the truth.
Stop the madness!
* Precautionary Principle - This principle simply states that any
activity that threatens human health and the environment should
be prevented through precautionary measures even if that threat
is not proven through scientific research.
Communities for a Better Environment
1440 Broadway Suite 701
Oakland CA 94612
Breast Cancer Action
55 New Montgomery St. Suite 323
San Francisco CA 94105
(415)243-9301 Toll Free: 877-2STOPBC
Breast Cancer Fund
1388 Sutter St. Suite 400
San Francisco CA 94109
(415)346-8223 Toll Free: 877-760-TBCF
National Women’s Health Network
514 10th St., N.W. Suite 400
Washington D.C. 20004
Environmental Defense Fund
1616 P St. N.W.
Washington D.C. 2003
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer
The Food Revolution, Ask John
Is rBST the same as rBGH?
Flawed Safety Assessment of Genetically Engineered Hormone
Cancer Industry Tour
By Judy Brady
Imaginis Breast Health News
Escape From Breast Cancer
Regular Alcohol Intake Ups Breast Cancer risk
Smoking-Breast Cancer Link Appears Stronger
Breast Cancer Action
Newsletter #75 - January/February 2003
From the Executive Director: The Crazy Days of Autumn
By Barbara A. Brenner
Life’s Delicate Balance
Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer
Janette D. Sherman, M.D.
Taylor & Francis, 2000
TIME, October 3, 2005
A Diary of Healing
BLOG TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE
CLINIC & AYURVEDA SCHOOL
- Integrated Medical Clinic &
Ayurveda School is a unique healthcare facility, combining the strengths
and knowledge of both traditional western and alternative medicine
in a holistic manner.
Originally from Hawaii, Marleen was also raised in Japan and Guam.
Her background is extremely eclectic and ranges from working in
the field of cartography to performing as a singer, dancer and actress.
In 1990, Marleen was diagnosed with thyroid
disease followed by breast cancer less than two years later. She
lost both breasts and her thyroid with no family history that would
predispose her to either disease. After much research, Marleen is
convinced that environmental pollution played a significant role
in the development of her life-threatening diseases.
Since 1995, Marleen has dedicated herself as a women's health advocate.
She has served as a consultant for several health organizations
including the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC and UCSF
Mt. Zion Cancer Center in San Francisco.
Marleen has combined her skills to develop a women's health presentation
which delves into the connections between the politics of gender
bias and the level of morbidity suffered by women. Marleen is an
active speaker in the San Francisco Bay Area.