Breast cancer: The good, the bad and the ugly

There are companies making products that cause breast cancer then donate huge sums of money for prevention or cure. Photo: wikicommons

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2013 —  Although breast cancer is one of the most funded areas of cancer research, it is also one of the most confusing. It benefits from very high charitable donations, but suffers from overlapping research, over and underfunding of programs, uneven disbursement and duplicate research funded programs that do not interact or interface.

Approximately one third of all monies allocated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for research go to breast cancer, with $631 billion dollars allocated in 2010 alone. The American Cancer Society commits close to 40 percent of its budget on breast cancer, $391 million dollars between 1992 and 2010, Avon Breast Cancer Crusade has donated $700 million and the Susan Komen for the Cure has donated $420 million.

Many other programs also provide funding, raising the annual breast cancer budget to about one billion dollars annually. Despite this huge investment, however, 59,000 women will die from breast cancer in North America alone this year.

Research so far has failed to understand what causes the five or six different types of breast cancer. They know about the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, but otherwise lack information on the causes.  

Many breast cancer programs emphasize education. The Susan Komen Crusade, for example, allocates only five percent of its total budget on treatment, while 43 percent goes to education.

If the cause of breast cancer is unknown, what is the purpose of education other than trumpeting mammograms as a means of early detection?

SEE RELATED: 50,000 unnecessary breast cancer deaths from study

Over one half of women with breast cancer had no history of risk factors.

Ironically, cancer treatment itself can cause harm. In some cases, women undergo treatment for a relatively benign cancer, enduring treatment than could kill them.

In other cases, the cancer is so aggressive there is not way to stop its growth. The cut, burn and poison technique will not stop these types of cancer, but can extend the life of the patient.

Often, with standard treatment, the cancer goes in remission for a time but if it returns, it is often untreatable.

Without a central database to track research projects, there is a large overlap of research.  The different researchers do not communicate, and may not even be aware a duplicate study is taking place. Even if researchers are aware of similar programs, they are likely to remain silent in an effort to preserve their own programs rather than speak up and allocate monies to different research projects. 

Research facilities linked with pharmaceutical companies search for a cure they can sell.  They jealously guard their programs and their research until they have developed their product. Curative medications and new treatment medications are a source of perpetual income, and discovering that treatment is the goal.

Many researchers speculate that the cosmetics women use may contribute to cancer development.

Many lipsticks, make-up, hair products, skin creams and other beauty products contain carcinogens, and what goes on the skin goes in the bloodstream. Most women use 12 personal care products daily which contain dozens of chemicals. Interestingly, many of the companies that produce these products promote programs to fight breast cancer.

There are no federal laws requiring the beauty products to research potential cancer causing ingredients or to publish results if they do undertake studies.

The Environmental Working Group’s web site “Skin Deep” lists cosmetics, hair care products, fragrances and other products which contain carcinogens. The site notes, “Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system. Though some companies make products that are safe to eat, others choose to use dangerous ingredients like coal tar and formaldehyde, both human carcinogens, and lead acetate, a developmental toxin.”

Scientists say maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the chance of developing several forms of cancer, including breast cancer. However, fast food companies known to contribute to unhealthy weight gain support breast cancer programs.

In dairy, the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone 9rBGH has been linked to breast cancer yet big dairy and related companies promote the so-called Pink Campaign.

The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly that does breast cancer research and manufactures breast cancer medications also makes the very rBGH linked to breast cancer.

The evidence of rBGH is so compelling, companies like General Mills quit using rBGH products and Wal-Mart stopped selling products with rBGH. Canada and the European Union has banned rBGH entirely. Eli Lilly bought the product from Monsanto, a company alleged to use questionable tactics and business ethics.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca owns a product known as Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogenic product that is used for treatment of breast cancer, making billions of dollars for the company.

AstraZeneca also owns Syngenta, (please see correction below) a pesticide producing company that has a product known as Atrazine widely used as a pesticide for corn and other crops but it is known as an estrogenic that causes breast cancer by disrupting the endocrine system and it is banned in Europe.

With 30 different agencies at the NCI addressing breast cancer, multiple pharmaceutical companies searching for a curative or treatment drug, thousands of other charitable and non-charitable efforts funding various breast cancer endeavors, there is no true ‘system’ that is broken because there is no coordinated system at all.

Money goes everywhere for everything with nothing in place for accountability.

Charitable organizations, pharmaceutical companies, food companies, retailers, car manufacturing companies and many more all spout: “We at (enter here) have contributed over (enter here) dollars toward a cure for breast cancer.”

The result? A two percent drop in breast cancer deaths.

Until a body of concentrated oversight is formed, the entire breast cancer ‘industry’ is FUBAR-fouled up beyond repair.

The upside is new medications and therapies are extending life and in many cases, many years.  

Some scientists and businesses believe the scattered industry creates the necessary competition to be among the first to develop better treatment medications. Others believe a coordinated effort that does not duplicate research and waste time and money in doing so is a better approach.

It would be interesting to hear from the 2,747,459 in this nation who have a history of breast cancer.

Men: 2,140 new cases of male breast cancer are diagnosed annually and the pathology is the same as a women’s. Check for lumps.


Corrections: AstraZeneca does not own Syngenta. In November 2000, Astra Zeneca and Novartis both spun off their ag businesses — Zeneca Ag Products and Novartis Crop Protection. Those two ag businesses then merged to become “Syngenta.” Syngenta is a completely standalone, independently operated, publicly traded company.

Ann Bryan, APR, Syngenta Corporate Communications has also contacted Communities stating that:

Atrazine is not an estrogenic, according to the U.S. EPA, Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority and World Health Organization (WHO). That Atrazine does not cause cancer in humans and that Atrazine is not banned in Europe.

Writer Paul Mountjoy has addressed those statement by Bryan in a follow up story:

Did overzealous research reporting misslabel Syngenta?

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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