National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) begins October – and you’ll see pink everywhere as participants try to raise awareness and encourage early detection.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for Hispanic woman and the second most common cause among white, African-American, Asian and American Indian women.
Nearly one in three cancers diagnosed in American women, are breast cancers. Every year over 40,000 women die from breast cancer and approximately 1,700 men will be diagnosed. Half of all cancers among women over the age of 45 are breast cancers.
The survival rate, if detected early, is 96 percent over five years. Cancer death rates have been declining since 1990, with more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive nationwide today.
NBCAM was founded in 1984 by the American Cancer Society but was funded by the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), a British manufacturer of petrochemicals and its subsidiary Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, maker, now as AstraZeneca, of Tamoxifen, a cancer drug. AstraZeneca’s Perry, Ohio chemical plant is a major polluter putting carcinogenic fungicides and herbicides into the air. AstraZeneca is no longer connected to ICI.
General Electric, a sponsor of cancer activities, is a maker of mammography machines and industrial polluter.
Safeway, the grocery chain in the west is one of North America’s largest corporate supporters of cancer research. Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Race for the Cure” events will be occurring across the country.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting on how Americans can buy their way into the movement.
Easy Spirit’s Travelcure shoes, which come in pink, commemorate the company’s donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Easy Spirit is donating $25,000 to BCRF.
Cook for the Cure is holding fund-raising parties featuring Kitchen Aid products. Everything from Bloomingdale’s umbrellas, Energizer batteries, Huggies and Viva paper products and baby wipes, all have donation plans.
- New markers have been discovered that indicate an increased risk of breast cancer for women of eastern European Jewish ancestry. These are different from the cancer-associated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. (Breast Cancer Research Foundation). This is important because the majority of families that carry breast cancer do not have the BRCA mutations.
- Breast cancer prognosis is poorer in women who suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is produced through an exposure to sunshine and is found in many foods such as fish, eggs and whole milk. (Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto)
- Aspirin seems to lower breast cancer risk in some women. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) hamper aromatase activity, an enzyme that manufactures estrogen. About 75 percent of all breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive. (Weill Cornell Medical College).
- Debra Lee Davis and Leon Bradlow, working with Cornell University propose that environmental estrogens or xenoestrogens, industrial chemicals, might cause breast cancer by mimicking or blocking estrogens. (Environmental Health Perspectives),
Stopping Cancer Before It Starts
No one has to fight cancer if they never get it and the Cancer Prevention Coalition’s Dr. Samuel Epstein wonders why the National Cancer Institute, with a budget that has escalated from $150 million in 1970 to $4.6 billion today, is not making more progress in preventing cancer.
Dr. Epstein is a professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University Of Illinois School of Public Health.
Dr. Epstein warns against the use of milk produced from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, which increases breast cancer risks seven fold, he says. Among other environmental causes are:
-- Prolonged use of the Pill or estrogen replacement therapy.
-- High consumption of meat which is heavily contaminated with potent natural or synthetic estrogens, or other sex hormones, implanted in cattle in feedlots prior to slaughter to increase muscle mass.
-- Prolonged exposure to a wide range of unlabeled hormonal ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.
-- Living near hazardous waste sites, petrochemical plants, power lines, and nuclear plants.
-- Occupational exposures of over one million women to carcinogens. These include benzene, ethylene oxide, methylene chloride, phenylenediamine hair dyes, and agricultural pesticides, including DDT residues.
He warns that the radiation dose from mammography does not make it a technique for early diagnosis of breast cancer. Self-diagnosis still finds the majority of cancers.
Barbara Brenner of Breast Cancer Action, a San Francisco grassroots organization, has called on a Stop Cancer Where It Starts initiative to get the Bay area to incorporate the precautionary principle in local regulations. The precautionary principle leans toward a guilty until proven innocent approach to potential environmental toxins.
Breast Cancer Action is also calling on a national Rachel Carson Project to find a half dozen multi-disciplinary cancer research centers to focus on finding the causes of cancer and on less toxic cancer treatments.
It has launched a Think Before You Pink campaign to encourage Yoplait to stop using milk from rBGH-treated cows for its yogurt. #