The close relationship between the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the cancer drug industry, with current annual sales in the tens of billions, has been amply illustrated by the aggressive attacks the ACS has directed through the years at potential competitors of the cancer drug industry.
Similar to infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy’s black list and Richard Nixon’s enemies list, the ACS maintained a Committee on Unproven Methods of Cancer Management for years which periodically “reviewed” alternative cancer therapies. The committee was comprised of “volunteer health care professionals” who were carefully selected proponents of orthodox, expensive, and usually toxic drugs patented by major pharmaceutical companies, and opponents of alternative or “unproven” therapies which are generally cheap, non-patentable, and minimally toxic.
To get an idea of the committee’s bias, it was originally named The Committee on Quackery when it was formed 50 years ago.
Periodically, the Committee provided statements on “unproven methods,” which were then widely disseminated to clinicians, cheerleader science writers and the public. Once a clinician or oncologist became associated with “unproven methods,” he or she was blackballed by the cancer establishment. Funding for the accused “quack” dried up and harassment increased..
The highly biased witch-hunts the ACS has conducted against alternative therapies is in striking contrast to its extravagant and uncritical endorsement of conventional toxic chemotherapy. This in spite of the absence of any objective evidence of improved survival rates or reduced mortality following chemotherapy for all but some relatively rare cancers.
In response to grassroots pressure from cancer patients disillusioned by the lack of progress with conventional cancer therapies, 40 members of Congress requested the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a Congressional think tank, to evaluate available information on alternative therapies in 1986. After initial resistance, the OTA eventually published a September 1990 report that identified some 200 promising studies on alternative therapies and concluded that the NCI had “a mandated responsibility to pursue this information and facilitate examination of widely used ‘unconventional cancer treatments’ for therapeutic potential.”
The ACS and NCI remained resistant, and in some instances hostile, to the OTA’s recommendations. In the January 1991 issue of its Cancer Journal for Clinicians, ACS referred to the Hoxsey therapy, a nontoxic combination of herb extracts developed in the 1940s by populist Harry Hoxsey, as a “worthless tonic for cancer.” However, a detailed critique of Hoxsey’s treatment by Dr. Patricia Spain Ward, a leading contributor to the OTA report, concluded just the opposite: “More recent literature leaves no doubt that Hoxsey’s formula does indeed contain many plant substances of marked therapeutic activity.”
Hoxsey’s treatment is far from the only one attacked by the ACS. Many of these treatments were later found to be effective. A growing number of other innovative therapies originally attacked by the ACS have recently found less disfavor and even acceptance. These include hyperthermia, Tumor Necrosis Factor, (originally called Coleys’ Toxin), hydrazine sulfate, and Burzynski’s antineoplastons. Thus far, the FDA has still not approved a single non-patented alternative drug.
The American Cancer Society’s questional non-profit performance
The American Cancer Society has been aptly referred to as “the worlds wealthiest non-profit organization”. It is the largest non-religious charity in the world and is the largest charitable organization in the United States. Second largest is the Salvation Army. However there is a big difference between the two. The Salvation Army is rated as one of the best charities based on their programs and the amount of funds they use as opposed to “dead” money for such things as salaries and administrative overhead. The ACS has performed poorly by comparison.
When Smart Money.Com ranked the largest charities in order of which ones spent the public’s money wisely, the ACS was rated number 93 out of 100. In 1992, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the American Cancer Society was more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives. At the time, the ACS had about $700 million in net assets on hand. By 2009, net assets on hand at the end of the year had almost doubled to over $1.3 billion.
Much of the funds raised by ACS go to pay overhead, salaries, fringe benefits, and travel expenses of its national executives in Atlanta. They also go to pay Chief Executive Officers, who earn six-figure salaries in several states, and the huge number of other paid employees who work out of over 3,000 regional offices nationwide. Aside from high salaries and overhead, much of what is left of the ACS budget goes to basic research and research into profitable patented cancer drugs with industries it has close relationships with, as outlined earlier in this series.
The American Cancer Society’s far-flung and aggressive fund raising appeals routinely plead poverty and tell us that the ACS needs more funds to support its cancer programs. However, all the while the American Cancer Society holds over a billion dollars in cash, investments and real estate assets.
Big salaries, company perks and high overhead are not the only ACS expenses which have been questioned. An Associated Press Release back in March 30, 1998 shed unexpected light on ACS expenditures on lobbying. At the time, National Vice President for federal and state governmental relations Linda Hay Crawford admitted that the ACS was spending money on direct lobbying, which she said was “less than $1 million a year”. She also admitted that the society had used its own employees to lobby during the previous year.
ACS lobbying expenses remained “below $1 Million” annually from 1998 to 2003. Then they climbed all the way to $2.7 Million in 2004. In 2005 the figure grew to $3.5 Million and then jumped to almost $10 million in 2006. The past five years, ACS lobbying expenses have averaged $5 Million a year.
Previous ACS lobbying has included tens of thousands of dollars in donations to Democratic and Republican governor’s associations. As Crawford explained back in 1998, “We wanted to look like players and be players.”
Others sharply disagreed with the practice. Tax experts have warned that these contributions may be illegal, as charities are not allowed to make political donations. Marcus Owens, director of the IRS Exempt Organization Division also warned that: “The bottom line is campaign contributions will jeopardize a charity’s exempt status.”
The Charities Information Bureau was quoted as stating that it “does not know of any other charity that makes contributions to political parties.”
The American Cancer Society is far from the only charity or other organization whose problems and self-interests are more of a problem than a solution in the fight against cancer, it is just the biggest and most visible. The ACS’s example vividly illustrates why the War on Cancer will never be won so long as those who cause and profit from cancer are in control.
Instead of the cure we were promised 40 years ago, what we have gotten for all the billions of dollars spent is a bloated cancer industry, including charitable organizations and government agencies, whose continued existence, salaried positions and benefits depends on NOT finding or even suppressing a cure for cancer.
A vivid illustration of how companies that cause and profit from cancer also influence charitable organizations as well as cancer treatments and research can be found in the in-depth article series “Hiding the Truth Beneath a Sea of Pink”:
Hiding the Truth Beneath a Sea of Pink – Part 1
Hiding the Truth Beneath a Sea of Pink – Part 2
Hiding the Truth Beneath a Sea of Pink – Part 3
As detailed in the series, the Breast Cancer Awareness Movement (BCAM) was started and controlled by a chemical company whose toxic emissions were one of the largest cancer causers in the United States. To this very day, the BCAM continues to be controlled by companies who seek to divert attention away from their toxic and unhealthy products. and direct research and treatment towards highly profitable products and services by companies who play large roles in BCAM.
The kind of deception and industry ties which are found in the ACS and the BCAM movement are also found in virtually all of the organizations and entities connected with cancer, whether it is fundraising organizations, government agencies or the cancer drug and treatment industries.
Hopefully someday we will abandon the failed paradigm of trying to cure cancer by cutting out, poisoning or burning the symptoms of cancer, end the suppression of alternative therapies, and begin focusing on the true causes of cancer and on cancer prevention and therapies which really work. A good start would be to stop wasting so much money and efforts on those who are part of the problem. .
The good ol’ boys network of cancer causers and cancer profiteers has ruled the war on cancer for 40 years. For the most part, their only successes have been in fattening their pockets, creating a system which prevents real research, and treatments which could make a difference. The sooner the public wakes up to the truth about the failed war on cancer and the organizations which have become part of the problem instead of the solution, the sooner we will be able to realize true cancer prevention and lasting cures.
Though not as well known as the bigger charities and foundations, there are organizations without industry ties which do not suppress alternative healing or research into toxins, hormone deficiency and imbalance, and other true causes of cancer. Examples include:
The Independent Cancer Research Foundation –http://www.new-cancer-treatments.org/
The Annie Appleseed Project –http://journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com/2011/01/13/the-annie-appleseed-project/
The Cancer Prevention Coalition -http://nationalcancercoalition.org/
The Breast Cancer Fund –http://www.breastcancerfund.org/