How to Win the Losing War on Cancer
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
a Foreword by Congressman David Obey and Introduction by Congressman John
author, Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., whose 1978 book The Politics of Cancer shook
the political establishment by showing how the federal government had been
corrupted by industrial polluters, has written a book that is sure to be of
equal consequence. Cancer-Gate: How to Win The Losing Cancer War is a
groundbreaking new book. It warns that, contrary to three decades of promises,
we are losing the winnable war against cancer, and that the hand-in-glove
generals of the federal National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the private
“nonprofit” American Cancer Society (ACS) have betrayed us. These
institutions, Epstein alleges, have spent tens of billions of taxpayer and
charity dollars primarily targeting silver-bullet cures, strategies that have
largely failed, while virtually ignoring strategies for preventing cancer in the
first place. As a result, cancer rates have escalated to epidemic proportions,
now striking nearly one in every two men, and more than one in every three
women. This translates into approximately 50 percent more cancer in men, and 20
percent more cancer in women over the course of just one generation.
to Epstein, these failed strategies are largely due to institutional malaise and
outdated mindsets fixated on treatment, to the virtual exclusion of prevention,
other than quitting smoking. But, Epstein says, there is much more. In
particular, the book shows how the NCI and ACS are corroded with major
institutional and personal conflicts of interest with cancer drug companies
(“Big Pharma”). As candidly admitted by a recent NCI director, the NCI has
become a “government pharmaceutical company.” For the ACS, these conflicts
extend to environmental polluters in the chemical industry, and connivance in
white collar crime. Not surprisingly, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has
charged that “the ACS is more interested in accumulating wealth than saving
lives.” These close ties to industry have transformed the NCI and ACS into
cheerleaders for special interests rather than stewards of the public interest.
and for the first time, Epstein chronicles how the NCI and ACS are sitting on
mountains of information about avoidable environmental causes of cancer rather
than making this available to the public in any systematic and understandable
way. This silence has even extended to frank suppression of such information,
denial of the public’s right to know, and violation of human rights. Following
a detailed indictment of these public betrayals, Epstein explains how we can
“take back” the war against cancer with a wide range of strategies. These
include “right-to-know” laws, ensuring public dissemination of critical
information on environmental carcinogens and avoidable causes of cancer, and
legislative reforms and oversight to ensure that the NCI protects the public
rather than special interests.
searing exposé of the NCI and ACS, and the proposed reforms of public policy
have been endorsed by over a hundred leading independent experts in cancer
prevention and public health, as well as by activist citizen groups.
President Nixon launched the 1971 cancer war, cancer incidence rates
(adjusted for the aging population) have escalated to epidemic proportions.
to NCI and ACS claims, the escalating incidence of cancer cannot be
explained away by smoking, but is due to avoidable exposures to a
multiplicity of environmental carcinogens. And, while lung cancer rates have
declined steadily, rates for a wide range of cancers unrelated to smoking
have increased sharply.
alarming statistics do not reflect a lack of resources. Since 1971, NCI’s
budget has increased 30-fold, from $150 million to $4.6 billion; annual
revenues of ACS have now reached $800 million. Paradoxically, it seems that
the more money we spend on cancer, the more cancer we get.
and in spite of the NCI/ACS’s overwhelming expenditures on an ongoing
series of claimed miracle cancer drugs, overall cancer mortality rates have
remained essentially unchanged for more than three decades. In fact, as
recently admitted by a Nobel Laureate director of an NCI Comprehensive
Cancer Center, most of NCI’s resources are spent on promoting ineffective
drugs for terminal disease.
statistics are also in striking contrast to three decades of highly
publicized and frankly misleading promises by the NCI and ACS of drastic
reductions in cancer incidence, “turning the corner in the cancer war,”
and dramatic breakthroughs in treatment.
Win the War
calling for an end to the “cancer plutocracy” and a return to public health
democracy, Epstein outlines a wide range of reforms that could save hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, of lives. These include:
the NCI and ACS : Cancer-Gate lays out systematic reforms,
including a requirement that NCI’s cancer prevention programs be placed on
an equal budgetary footing with all its other programs combined. Cancer-Gate
also proposes the creation of a National Cancer Prevention Registry—a
clearing-house freely available to the public in print and on-line—for all
known chemical and radioactive carcinogens (similar to NCI’s freely
available registry of cancer drugs and treatment), as NCI has already
pledged the U.S. Congress. Cancer-Gate also argues that the
“nonprofit” ACS must end its corrupting dependency on special interest
“soft-money” financial contributions, or risk public boycott of its
Right-to-Know : Cancer-Gate insists that the public’s
right-to-know be validated by requiring the NCI to disseminate information
about known carcinogens in the environment and consumer products, as
required by the 1971 National Cancer Act. Epstein also argues that consumers
have the basic right-to- know, through explicit labeling, of known
carcinogens in consumer products—food, cosmetics and personal care
products, and household products. Additionally, patients have the basic
right to be informed by their health care professionals of the carcinogenic
risks of prescription drugs (and the availability of safe alternatives), and
of screening and diagnostic medical procedures, particularly high X-ray dose
CAT scans. Cancer-Gate also calls on state and local governments to
utilize public databases to inform local citizenries about carcinogenic
hazards posed by chemical industries in their communities. State and local
governments should also be required to develop ordinances to obtain such
information, and should develop remedial initiatives to prevent hazardous
exposures to industrial carcinogens.
Wake-up Call for Congress : Cancer-Gate charges that Congress
has been asleep at the wheel in the cancer war and has shirked oversight of
the cancer establishment. Cancer-Gate proposes that Congress should
use the budget process to ensure that cancer prevention, particularly from
environmental causes, be given the highest priority, and that NCI is reigned
in from its current independent “rogue status” and is made directly
accountable to the director of the National Institutes of Health, as are
some 25 other National Health Institutes. The book also urges Congress to
schedule regular oversight hearings to monitor NCI’s progress in
preventing environmental cancers, and its related belated implementation of
a comprehensive registry of environmental carcinogens.
Matters Into Your Own Hands : Finally, Cancer-Gate tells
you—the reader—how you can fight back by arming yourself with
information that you need to protect yourself from everyday carcinogens by
shopping for safe organic foods, cosmetics, and other consumer products, and
how to become an activist in the war against cancer.
the author: Dr. Epstein is Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational
Medicine at the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, and
Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. He is an internationally recognized
authority on the causes and prevention of cancer, and has published some 270
scientific articles and 11 books, including the prize-winning The Politics
of Cancer (1978), The Safe Shopper’s Bible (1995), The
Breast Cancer Prevention Program and The Politics of Cancer Revisited (both
1998). Dr. Epstein is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including the
2005 Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for Humanitarianism, and a member of the
National Writers Union, AFL-CIO, and the National Association of Science
book is the latest in Baywood’s highly regarded Policy, Politics, Health and
Medicine Series, edited by Dr. Vicente Navarro.
Information: 6” x 9”, 396 pages
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Epstein penetrates the facades of the huge cancer institutions and
organizations, and explodes the myth that they are protecting us from
cancer causing agents. In
Cancer-Gate, he demonstrates that he is a fearless fighter in the battle
against environmental carcinogens.
- - Ruth Winter,
Past President of the American Society of Journalists and Authors
and with meticulous documentation, Dr. Epstein updates us on the
unresponsiveness of the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer
Society to avoidable causes of cancer. His urgent message--stop
cancer before it starts--is daily more imperative and must be heeded.
A must for every public health student and professional.
- -Quentin D.
Young, M.D., Chairman, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Chicago,
and Past President, American Public Health Association
is a legend in the field of cancer prevention. From his
prize-winning 1978 The Politics of Cancer through his latest brilliant
work Cancer-Gate, Epstein demonstrates a clear understanding of the cancer
crisis and the only real solution--cancer prevention. This year,
1,400,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and 600,000 will die.
If we had taken Epstein's advice on cancer prevention 30 years ago we
would not be facing this tragedy today.
- - Frank D. Wiewel,
Founder, People Against Cancer
surpassed heart disease as America's #1 killer, but the National Cancer
Institute and American Cancer Society continue to hope that "magic
bullet" drugs will save us. For over three decades, Prof.
Samuel Epstein has shown that many kinds of cancer can be prevented by
simply phasing out or eliminating carcinogens in the air, food, water and
workplace. Vested interests have blocked this strategy.
Epstein is a national treasure and his Cancer-Gate is simply
magnificent--a battle cry for activists to reclaim the failing war against
- - Ralph W. Moss,
PhD, Director, The Moss Reports, and author The Cancer Industry, 2000
Epstein’s scientifically-accurate, yet highly-readable, book is an
extraordinarily important depiction of the failure of President Nixon’s
1971 “War on Cancer.” This has been due
to concentration on highly questionable treatment, and monumental neglect
of preventing environmental and other avoidable causes of cancer.
Like the “War on Terrorism,” which has been sidetracked into a war on
Iraq and on human rights, the “War on Cancer” has enriched powerful
special interests, and stifled the free flow of public information.
This book provides recommendations and inspiration for at-long-last
transforming the largely futile, and inflationary, cancer war into
realistic strategies to prevent the nation’s leading cause of suffering
and premature death.
W. Sidel, M.D.
University Professor of Social Medicine
Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, and Past
President, American Public Health Association
is less and less effort to inform workers and their families, and the
public about avoidable environmental and occupational causes of cancer. This
book will make you pause and think—especially if you or a loved one has
Bingham, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Environmental Health,
of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Former Assistant
Secretary of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Cancer-Gate details, the National Cancer Institute and American
Society have narrowly focused their policies and resources on promoting
highly profitable Big Pharma "miracle" drugs in largely
unsuccessful efforts to cure cancer. What's more, in
defiance of the Human Rights Covenants, they have denied the public of its
right to know of available information on the causes and prevention of
Rosalie Bertell, Former President of the International Institute of
Concern for Public Health, and Member of the National Association for
Public Health Policy, International Science Oversight Committee
Epstein is a scientist/scholar/activist who devotes his life 24/7 to
informing the public about what really causes cancer, and how we can
protect ourselves. In his brilliant and compelling book, in spite
of the silence of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and attacks by
industry, he has established guidelines on the public’s undeniable
right-to-know of avoidable causes of cancer in the environment, workplace,
hormone replacement therapy and other prescription drugs, and consumer
Seaman, Co-Founder, National Women’s Health Network, and author The
Doctor’s Case Against the Pill
Epstein's factual exposé of the National Cancer Institute and American
Cancer Society—their conflicts of interest, co-option by the
pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries, and indifference to cancer
prevention—is riveting. Dr. Epstein reaches for the law to turn the
issue of public health into one of human rights. This book
belongs on the bookshelf of every lawyer and teacher of environmental law
or public health, in every law library, and on the reading lists of all
related law school classes.
S. Grossman, Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library
of California, Davis
is Dr. Epstein's heroic efforts to show us how to reduce our
risks of cancer. Motivated by compassion and concern, he does not
fail to deeply impress. In both print and film, he is as remarkable in
command of scientific data as ability to present them in a way that is
both convincing to the public health community and accessible to the
general public. He has shared these powerful insights in my recent
documentary, The Corporation.
Achbar, Executive Producer, and Co-Director, The Corporation,
of 22 international awards
Epstein's new masterpiece Cancer-Gate takes the onus from
industry that tries to keep us in the dark about the war on cancer
and puts the information right into our hands. This well
researched book acts as a roadmap showing what is being done and what can
be done regarding the war on cancer. The importance of becoming proactive
becomes even more personal as Dr. Epstein reveals the role that the
cosmetics industry plays in the cancer epidemic in my forthcoming
documentary "America the Beautiful.”
Roberts, Producer, Sensory Overload Productions.