Offices of the Cancer Prevention Coalition
June 2, 2002
American Cancer Society Indicted by the Cancer
Prevention Coalition for Losing The Winnable War Against Cancer
In response to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other Cancer Fundraiser newspaper articles seen around the state, I request
equal time to present another side of the story, and call for prevention education, and a Boycott of the ACS until funding is
properly spent, conflicts of interest, and other deficiencies and issues are corrected.
An article, "American Cancer Society: The World's Wealthiest 'Non- Profit' Institution," by Dr. Samuel Epstein M.D., published in the
International Journal of Health Services, the leading international public health and policy journal, charges that the
American Cancer Society (ACS) "is fixated on damage control ... diagnosis and treatment ... and basic molecular biology, with
indifference or even hostility to cancer prevention." ACS also trivializes the escalating incidence of cancer which has reached
epidemic proportions and makes grossly misleading claims on dramatic progress in the treatment and cure of cancer. This myopic
mindset and derelict policy is compounded by interlocking conflicts of interests with the cancer drug,
The following is illustrative: ---Since 1982, the ACS has adopted a highly restrictive policy insisting on
unequivocal human evidence on carcinogenicity before taking any position on cancer risks. Accordingly, the ACS has actively
campaigned against the 1958 Delaney law banning the deliberate addition to food of any amount of chemical additive shown to
induce cancer, even in well-validated federal animal tests. ---
In a joint 1992 statement with the Chlorine Institute, the ACS supported the continued use of organochlorine pesticides in spite
of their recognized environmental persistence and carcinogenicity. ---
1993, just before PBS Frontline aired the special entitled "In Our Children's Food," the ACS sent a
memorandum in support of the pesticide industry to some 48 regional divisions which preemptively trivialized pesticides as a
cause of childhood cancer and reassured the public that residues of carcinogenic pesticide in food are safe, even for babies. ---
In Cancer Facts & Figures, the ACS annual publication designed to provide the public with "basic facts" on cancer, there is little
or no mention of prevention. Examples include no mention of: dusting the genital area with talc as a known cause of ovarian cancer; parental exposure to occupational carcinogens, domestic
use of pesticides, or frequent consumption of nitrite colored hot dogs (resulting in
contamination with carcinogenic nitrosamines) as major causes of childhood cancer; and prolonged use of oral
contraceptives or hormonal replacement therapy as major causes of breast cancer.
Facts & Figures, 1997, also misrepresented
that "since women may not be able to alter their personal risk factors, the best opportunity for reducing mortality is early
detection." This statement ignores overwhelming evidence on a wide range of ways by which women of all ages can reduce their risks of
breast cancer, including regular use of the cheap non-prescription and safe drug aspirin. ---
The ACS, together with the National
Cancer Institute, has strongly promoted the use of Tamoxifen, the world's top-selling cancer drug, ($400 million annually)
manufactured by Zeneca, for allegedly preventing breast cancer in healthy women, evidence for which is highly arguable at best. More
seriously, ACS has trivialized the dangerous and sometimes lethal complications of Tamoxifen including blood clots, lung embolism,
and aggressive uterine cancer, and fails to warn that the drug is a highly potent liver carcinogen.
Conflicts of interest are further reflected in the ACS Foundation Board of Trustees which includes corporate executives from the
pharmaceutical, cancer drug, investment, and media industries. They include David R. Bethume, president of Lederle Laboratories, Gordon Binder, CEO of Amgen (a leading biotech cancer drug
company), and Sumner M. Redstone, chairman of the Board of Viacom, Inc.
Other concerns relate to the "non-profit status" of the ACS whose annual budget is some $500 million. Most funds raised go to pay
high overhead, salaries, fringe benefits, and travel expenses of national executives in Atlanta, CEO's who earn six-figure salaries in several states, and hundreds of other employees working in some
3,000 regional offices. Less than 16% of all monies raised are spent on direct patient services; salaries and overhead for most ACS affiliates exceed
50%, although most direct community services
are handled by unpaid volunteers. While ACS cash assets and reserves approach $1 billion, it continues to plead poverty and lament the lack of funds for cancer research.
the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the leading U.S. charity watchdog, has concluded that the ACS is "more interested in accumulating
wealth than saving lives." It should further be noted that the ACS uses 10 employees and spends $1 million a year on direct lobbying,
and is the only known charity that makes contributions to political parties.
Based on these considerations the International Journal of Heath Services article urged that, in the absence of drastic reforms,
contributions to the ACS should be diverted to public interest and environmental groups directly involved in cancer prevention. This
is the only message that this "charity" can no longer ignore.
Email to: Shelley Kramer or
call 310 457 5176