FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Risks of Mammography: Hidden Role of the American Cancer Society
CHICAGO, IL, November 24, 2009 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The series of recent articles on mammography which report the harm done by overscreening, written by New York Times columnist Gina Kolata, as well as in other newspapers, have made no reference to the critical role of the American Cancer Society, warns Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
Five radiologists have served as presidents of the American Cancer Society (ACS). In its every move, the ACS promotes the interests of the major manufacturers of mammogram machines and films, including Siemens, DuPont, General Electric, Eastman Kodak, and Piker.
This bias hypes mammography, which Dr. Epstein and Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D. of the International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine emphasize is an avoidable cause of breast cancer.
"The mammography industry conducts research for the ACS and its grantees, serves on its advisory boards, and donates considerable funds," they warn. "DuPont also is a substantial backer of the ACS Breast Health Awareness Program; sponsors television shows and other media productions touting ACS literature for hospitals, clinics, medical organization, and doctors; produces educational films; and aggressively lobbies Congress for legislation promoting the nationwide availability of mammography services."
In virtually all its actions, the ACS has been and remains strongly linked with the mammography industry. Meanwhile, it ignores or attacks breast self examination (BSE), following training by expert nurses or clinicians, which is the safe and effective alternative, say Drs. Epstein and Bertell.
ACS promotion continues to lure women of all ages into mammography centers, leading them to believe that mammography is their best hope against breast cancer. A leading Massachusetts newspaper featured a photograph of two women in their twenties in an ACS advertisement that promised early detection results in a cure "nearly 100 percent of the time."
An ACS communications director, questioned by journalist Kate Dempsey, admitted in an article published by the Massachusetts Women's Community's journal Cancer, "The ad isn't based on a study. When you make an advertisement, you just say what you can to get women in the door. You exaggerate a point...Mammography today is a lucrative [and] highly competitive business."
Not surprisingly, the prestigious Chronicle of Philanthropy, the leading charity watch dog, has warned that the ACS "is more interested in accumulating wealth than saving lives."
This evidence on the complicity of the ACS was made available to Gina Kolata at her request on October 20th, Dr. Epstein says. However, in her subsequent series of articles, she made no reference to the role of the ACS in concealing the dangers of mammography from the nation's women.
Routine mammography delivers an unrecognized high dose of radiation, warn Drs. Epstein and Bertell. If a woman follows the current guidelines for premenopausal screening, over a 10 year period she would receive a total dosage of about 5 rads. This approximates the level of exposure to radiation of a Japanese woman one mile from the epicenter of atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
“Mammography is a striking paradigm of the capture of unsuspecting women by run-away powerful technological and global pharmaceutical industries, with the complicity of the cancer establishment, particularly the ACS, and the rollover mainstream media," they warn.
Drs. Epstein and Bertell emphasize, "Promotion of the multibillion dollar mammography screening industry has also become a diversionary flag around which legislators and women's product corporations can rally, protesting how much they care about women, while studiously avoiding any reference to avoidable risks of breast cancer.
Screening mammography should be phased out in favor of annual clinical breast examination, (CBE), by a trained nurse and monthly breast self examination (BSE), also following training by a trained nurse. This is an effective, safe, and low-cost alternative, to diagnostic mammography, the two experts advise.
"Such action is all the more critical and overdue in view of the still poorly recognized evidence that mammography does not lead to decreased breast cancer mortality," they say.
Drs. Epstein and Bertell envision nationwide networks of BSE and CBE clinics, staffed by trained nurses, saying, "These low-cost clinics would also empower women by providing them with scientific evidence on the risks of breast cancer, and also on its prevention."
This information is of particular importance, they say, in view of the high incidence of breast cancer, which has increased by 18% from 1975, in spite of the multi-billion dollar U.S. insurance and Medicare costs of mammography. Such funds should be diverted to establishing BSE clinics nationwide and providing public information on the wide range of avoidable causes of breast cancer.
This information was detailed in 2001 in a scientific article on "The Dangers and Unreliability of Mammography: Breast Examination As A Safe Effective and Practical Alternative," published in the prestigious International Journal of Health Services as long ago as 2001. This was co-authored by Dr. Epstein, Dr. Bertell, a leading international expert on radiation hazards, and the late Barbara Seaman, the leader and founder of the women's breast cancer movement.
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; and a former President of the Rachel Carson Trust. His awards include the 1989 Right Livelihood Award and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention. Dr. Epstein has authored 20 scientific articles and 15 books on cancer prevention, including the groundbreaking The Politics of Cancer (1979), and most recently Toxic Beauty (2009, Benbella Books: www.benbellabooks.com) about carcinogens in cosmetics and personal care products.
Rosalie Bertell, Ph. D. is an expert in Radiation Epidemiology. She is the retired President of International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Member of the Board of Regents of the International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine; Member of the European Committee on Radiation Risk and the Cancer Prevention Coalition (U.S.). Dr. Bertell is a recipient of many awards, including the United Nations Environment Program, Global Five Hundred Award and the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize). She is author of five books and has published more than 100 professional papers and articles.
Samuel S. Epstein, MD
Environmental & Occupational Medicine
University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition,
Chicago, Illinois 60612
Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D.
Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine
Founding Member European Committee on Radiation Risk
Yardley, Pennsylvania 19067