It appears that breast cancer has been with us for millennia. Writings from 3500 years ago in Egypt describe bulging tumors with no cure. Hippocrates addressed breast cancer as a humoral disease. He considered it to be an imbalance of humors with an excess of black bile. Galen in 200 CE also talked of excess of black bile and recommended treatments that included opium, castor oil, licorice, sulfur and salves.
Physicians began to seriously look for other reasons for breast cancers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some referred to changes in lymphatic fluids. Some thought that lack of sex was a factor and in the cases of sexually active people developing breast cancer, the reason must be sex that was too vigorous.
The middle 1700’s brought us surgical solutions that of course persist to this day. The primary surgery was removal of the tumor along with associated lymph nodes. Some also recommended removal of adrenal and pituitary glands to decrease estrogen production.
Pharmaceutical companies were willing to throw their hats into the ring as well. The primary approaches are SERM (selective estrogen receptor modifier) like tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole and friends, targeted hormonal therapies like trastuzumab.
Of course we also now have genetic information that promises to give us more insight into breast cancer’s mechanisms. Most women have heard of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can be linked to an increase in the probability of breast cancer incidence.
Breast cancer awareness month began in 1985 as a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical whose pharmaceutical arm Zeneca is now part of AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of tamoxifen and other cancer drugs.
We are pretty sure why AstraZeneca is in business and why they would want a public education campaign and publicity about their products. What is more hidden is the reason for being of the American Cancer Society.
It would appear that ACS is in business to stay in business with cancer awareness not cancer prevention being the primary product. Here are a few numbers from government relations attorney David M. Schwartz.
Annual ACS revenues are close to $1 Billion. Yes, that billion with a “b”.
Annual American Cancer Society Expenditures are as follows:
- $400 million Salaries
- $88 million Employee Benefits
- $60 million Professional Fees
- $17 million Telephone Calls
- $45 million Office Space Rental
- $19 million Meetings and Conferences
- $29 million Travel Expenses
- $14 million Misc Expenses
These expenses total $672 million per year.
For every $1 spent on direct services, $6.40 is spent on compensation and overhead. 16% or less of money raised is spent on direct cancer patient services.
Isn’t it great that the NFL is getting involved in breast cancer awareness? Again, there is a huge gap between supporting awareness and supporting prevention or effective treatments. 5% of online sales in the NFL Shop goes to the ACS and as already pointed out maybe 16% of that might get to actual cancer patients meaning .08% of every dollar spent on pink products gets to people who need it. With a standard markup of 100%, that means that about 90% of the profit from breast cancer awareness products stays in the coffers of the NFL which has non-profit status itself, by the way. To put a fine point on this, for every $100 in pink gear $45 stays and helps pad the NFL’s $9.5 billion annual revenues. The NFL wanted to clarify the numbers saying that the profits that don’ t go to the ACS are spent on the costs of their Crucial Catch breast cancer awareness program. Gee, I feel a lot better now.
Breast cancer is a real problem and has been for a long time so is not just a modern disease. We need better advocates than the American Cancer Society and their cozy relationship with big pharma and their high profile, feel-good promotions.
What can you do for yourself to help prevent breast cancer and help your recovery if you find yourself in that position?
Some studies have indicated that women with serum levels of vitamin D of 50ng/ml had a 50% lower incidence of breast cancer. Another study looking at the survival of 4,500 breast cancer patients found that these higher levels of D were more than twice as likely to survive.
Personally, I like to see D levels over 80 for people trying to fight to regain their health. Many people we check only have D levels closer to 30.
Other factors that can increase your resistance to breast cancer and help your survivability are curcumin and glutathione. I have other articles about glutathione on OVitaminPro, but the short version is that the amount of glutathione in your cells and blood is directly proportional to your disease resistance and chance of longevity. The Journal of Breast Cancer Jun 2013 reported progress on the mechanism of curcumin and its widely known anti-cancer properties.
Of course you have to dig for this information because, as you know, we have strong capitalist roots here in the US and human benefit often takes a back seat to profit.
Suzanne Somers also dealt with breast cancer and didn’t use traditional medical approaches for her cure. She talked with some doctors about preventing and curing cancer in her book Knockout.
The other day I was with some people who were watching the Today Show. I have a low tolerance for these shows anyway but completely lost it as they gushed and pleaded about giving money to the ACS for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The hosts were practically in tears about kids talking about raiding their piggy banks to give money to the cause. I was in tears too but for a different reason. This well-oiled money making machine proved to be too nauseating to watch.
My advice? Find local programs that do the type of cancer research and support that really benefit people and support them with your time and money. Take care of yourself. Limit alcohol to one or fewer drinks per day. Keep your vitamin D levels up every day. Supplement to increase glutathione levels. Take your curcumin supplements.