Who would have thunk that the Nazis would have been the first to systematically explore the hazards in the environment as pertains to the development of human and animal cancers? In The Secret History of The War On Cancer (Perseus Books Group 2007) Dr Devra Davis, an Epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, details what was known about cancer and when it was known.
President Richard M. Nixon declared the “War” on Cancer in 1971. Aside from a drop in lung cancer due to the decline in cigarette smoking, and a slight falling off of the breast cancer rate because on a greater examination rate, the war has been a failure. Cancer deaths are now the second cause of death in the US.
Long before a conference was held in 1932, the environment factors that contributed to cancer were known. Yet, it was not until the 1960s that the Surgeon General indicted smoking as a major cause of lung cancer. Still it took another thirty years before the federal government took any action.
Davis delves into the conflicts of interests where the board members of the American Cancer Society (and it predecessors) and the national Cancer Institute were members of big business producing toxic chemicals, asbestos, cigarettes and other environmental agents that cause cancer.
The approach of Davis and other experts who have studied cancer is the realization that it much easier to prevent cancer by eliminating environmental factors than by trying to combat it medically. The three major ways that cancer is fought is to cut it out, poison it or burn it. An oncologist quoted by Davis says that a new paradigm is needed to stem the onslaught of cases. Davis offers the use of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, et cetera) has a possible help.
The toxins and waste produced in the 20th century with its various wars, incorrect disposal of pollutants and new improperly studied and investigated chemicals, produced a tidal wave of cancer, the like of which the world has never seen. Part of that was fueled by the sure inventiveness of the century where more and newer products were constantly brought to market along with manmade and newly extracted chemicals. The long term use of most chemicals and potentially dangerous products has never been studied even to this day. Over 80% of the chemicals in use today have never been checked for being possible cancer causing agents or for their environmental and ecological impact.
It seems unmitigated greed, the love of the money and the holiness of the bottom line has kept cancer causing agents on the market long after their dangers were known. The law has been no help in rectifying the situation, because by some perversity of logic, the courts demand a direct correlation of one chemical agent producing one specific type of cancer. Davis convincing demonstrates that it is impossible to prove this because it is the combination of a number of factors and various chemicals that ultimately results in cancer.
Davis uses verifiable data to show that the number of CT scans done today are generating more radiation than the Chernobyl nuclear accident. She also cites how studies funded by industry cannot be trusted, how cell phone use researched by independent investigators show marked increases in brain tumors in the hemisphere where the phone is predominantly held; whereas, the studies funded by the communications industry can find no correlation. This does not bode well for the reduction of cancer in the future.
Politics has a great deal to do with the prevalence of cancer in today’s society. Davis shows how Donald Rumsfeld was hired as Chief Executive Officer of Searle (the developers of Aspartame) after he left government. He had no experience in directing a medical or chemical company, but he had the political contacts. Aspartame had not been approved for public use because it was a dangerous cancer causing agent submitted with shoddy experiment documentation, and the FDA was well aware of this. After Rumsfeld was hired, aspartame was resubmitted with no new experimentation or documentation and was approved. Now this dangerous poison masquerading as a noxious dangerous neurotoxin known as NutriSweet is in thousands of products.
Searle was bought out by Monsanto. Monsanto’s major stockholder are the Rockefeller trusts. Monsanto is known for producing PCP’s, Agent Orange, Napalm and the current monstrosity called Genetically Modified Organisms.
The book is well written, well researched, and for a rather technical 450 page book holds the readers attention well.
Davis offers a solution to the current dangerous situation which is making everyone in the world sicker. Now when a substance is outlawed in the US, Canada or Western Europe, it’s production is shifted to a third world country where it sickens the population there. The Professor calls for an amnesty for the producers of the various dangerous toxins, financial compensation for their victims, and proper, systematic and well organized, monitored and studied cleanup and disposal of all toxic waste sites. If production of dangerous carcinogens is to continue, then the workers must be properly warned and adequately protected. She warns that if this is not done, cancer rates will continue to rise, as will the acrimony between the producers of toxins and their victims. And only a sick society can operate under this sort of venom that slowly and surely poisons the planet.