National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Cancer Society (ACS)—Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of Interest (Xlibris Corporation 2011) by Samuel S. Epstein. MD contains startling, disturbing and important information for anyone trying to understand and make some sense of the current dysfunctional medical situation in the United States. In 1971 President Richard M Nixon embraced the National Cancer Act promoted by the American Cancer Society, the world’s wealthiest nonprofit and supported by the National Cancer Institute, and declared “War” on cancer and promising to win the war and find a cure. The only two types of cancer that have become less common in the forty years since are lung cancer because more and more people have quit smoking and fewer have started and breast and ovarian cancer because women have stopped taking hormone replacement therapy. These two preventive measures are the only two real bright spots in cancer in the last 40 years despite the promotion of false “breakthroughs” in the alleged fight against cancer put out by the NCI and ACS.
Doctor Epstein, a professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, is an internationally recognized authority on avoidable causes of cancer, particularly unknowing exposures to industrial carcinogens in air, water, the workplace and consumer products—food, cosmetics and toiletries and household products including pesticides—besides carcinogenic prescription drugs.
The research policies and priorities of the NCI remain dominated by professional mind-sets fixated on damage control—screening, diagnosis, chemo-prevention, treatment—and treatment related research. High priority for screening persists despite long-standing challenges as to its questionable effectiveness for cancer such as prostate, lung, pre-menopausal, breast and childhood neuroblastoma. Minimal emphasis , and even indifference, remains directed to the prevention of a wide range of a voidable causes of cancer—other than lifestyle factors, smoking, inactivity, and fatty diets, while ignoring the home and the workplace.
The above paragraph summarizes the the important emphasis of this book. Epstein throws out a lot of facts, such as the American Cancer Society controls almost a billion dollars in assets, funding research in conventional cancer treatments while maintaining executives from the pharmaceutical industry on its board. He notes that the National Cancer Institute has received over 50 billion in Federal funding over the years, has underwritten and conducted research on cancer medicines and then given the rights to what was discovered to pharmaceutical giants who the directors of NCI happened to have worked for, or will go on to work for. These are clear conflicts of interest which led a former Director to say the NCI was simply a federally funded research institution for the pharmaceutical industry.
The America Cancer Society is a nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service. With more than two million volunteers nationwide, the American Cancer Society is the one of the oldest and largest voluntary health agencies in the United States.
In 1993, the Chronicle of Philanthropy published a statement that the ACS was “more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives.” Funding-raising appeals routinely state the ACS needs more funds to support its cancer programs, while maintaining close to a billion dollars in cash and real estate assets. Only 16% of the money raised directly gets spent on cancer victims, and over 54% gets spent on overhead and administrative costs with little to almost non-existent funds spent on the cancer prevention in its mission statement.
This book goes on for 182 pages, unfortunately, it could cover what it presents in less than a quarter of the space. The repetitions are tiring and monotonous. The book is poorly organized and loses its impact. Epstein does not present his material as a prosecutor trying a case which is what needs to be done in a book of this nature, arguing an easily proved case with a wealth of facts and pertinent data, letting one set of circumstances act as a foundation for what follows, building up an unquestioning and overpowering evidence. Epstein does not use graphs showing the overwhelming conflicts of interest between the pharmaceutical industry, the American Cancer Society and the national Cancer Institution. He mentions alternative cancer treatments, however, he does not list them or discuss their effectiveness.
He rattles on and on about cancer prevention, but does not give a list of preventive measures one can take to avoid getting cancer.
Epstein states that the American Cancer Society was incorporated in 1923 by a number of “wealthy businessmen:” however he does not go into the fact that two of them were John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, both of whom had vested interests in the pharmaceutical industry. He does not mention that Rockefeller interests went on to found the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute which is intimately tied to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
Even with these shortcomings, and at times a very annoying read, this book is still a must read which underscores the corruption in the United States medical establishment and their close ties with pharmaceutical and governmental corruption.