Losing the War that Never Was

MARCH 2014.   I love Dr. Samuel Epstein.  He is the Senior Director of the Cancer Prevention Coalition in Chicago, and the author of the push-back book - “The Politics of Cancer” back in 1979.  Dr. Epstein is one of my favorites because, like another Chicago-based cancer prevention man – Dr. John Bailar, he looks the cancer establishment in the eye, and says, “You’re friggin' wrong”.  

Well, Dr. Epstein is at it again.  In a recent edition of Health Impact News, he puts together one of the most detailed reports in a decade on the abuses of power of the American Cancer Society – an organization that historically spends less than 26% of its vast holdings on medical research (not to mention research in prevention and true methods of survivorship).  Dr. Epstein also details the inner workings of the ACS – which includes their power board of directors (business, pharmaceuticals, and media), and goes on a tirade about the terrible track record of ACS in looking the other way during congressional investigations that concerned environmental causes of cancers, which included opposing regulations on things such as carcinogenic feed additives, hair care products, ban on saccharin, Clean Air Act, etc. etc.

He details conflicts of interest on issues like mammography – which journalist Kate Dempsey states that ACS advertisements to have women as early as their twenties receive mammograms is deceptive, and shows why ACS is interested in being involved in “mammography – which today is a lucrative and highly competitive business”

From fund-raising events to pesticides, Dr. Epstein states that organizations such as ACS are on the wrong side of the issues.  “They are willing partners in deception, and do favors for corporations such as agribusiness”.  

His last section is saved for the pharmaceutical industry, which in some cases charges patients $20,000 per month on drugs.  Drugs they could receive in other countries at a fraction of the cost.  It is an expose on the power of large corporations that control the largest portion of the health care sector, and see no reason to change their tactics, even though venues such as the internet expose their actions, and over the past few years, there are dips in the amounts of “generous donations” from the average individual.  

So – what does this have to do with exercise and cancer?  Well, a lot.  As a cancer and exercise professional (certified in Cancer Fit-CARE or other agency), it is your responsibility to understand the following:  FIRST – the causes of cancer.  Over my 20+ years of research in this area, I believe that cancer is an environmental disease, caused by an exposure – to a chemical toxin over time, a food stuff that should not be ingested, or other form of outside influence.  SECOND – all certified instructors should have knowledge of what the current state of cancer care is in this country.  The new types of cancer drugs (as best as possible), nuclear medicine studies, other medical technologies and interventions.  They should also know the following as they work with patients with cancer – that one of the best types of long-term therapies for survivorship IS exercise.  It has some qualities such as chemotherapy (toxic in large amounts, must be administered at precise levels, and built upon over time).  Exercise also allows patients to tolerate chemotherapy more (thus completing their regimes), and once initial medical therapy is completed – exercise may (over time) be perhaps the best method to reduce the incidence of cancer recurrence.  These two areas of information alone put cancer wellness specialists in a unique category.  One that has them in a position to give patients the tools to enhance their recovery at any level – interface with other oncology professionals, and make a difference in the much beguiled profession of exercise and fitness.

Lastly – about that prevention . . . Exercise has over the past 30 years established itself as one of the best methods to prevent cancer initially.  From breast to prostate to colon cancers – most of the epidemiology research reports a 10-55% decrease in the incidence of cancers in persons who maintain a healthy and active lifestyle over their adulthood.  Couple that with sound nutrition - and the risk reduction is as high at 80%.  This should be great news for those who work In health and fitness and want to know more about the medical / prevention benefits of fitness.

We’ll get into many of these topics in more detail in future blogs.  Look over the HIN article link below, and visit the Cancer Prevention Coalition for more information on the many preventive tools for cancer.  

In health – Eric