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"Present this ticket anywhere. You’re already in Crazyworld."
I recently read this sentence on a public service advertisement that
was printed on an oversized movie ticket. The poignancy of the statement
didn’t elude me. A few years ago I would have found this statement
amusing; today it resonates to my core.
I’ve survived 10 operations in 11 years. I’ve lost both
breasts, my thyroid, uterus and cervix. I’m living with persistent
hypertension, an enlarged heart and a 75 lb. pound weight gain. I’m
dependent on 5 pills a day whose costs are skyrocketing at this very
moment. But hey, I’m one of the lucky ones -- so I’m told.
Perhaps I’m just another unfortunate woman who didn’t
make the right lifestyle choices. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken
those birth control pills for so many years. Maybe I waited too long
to have children. Maybe I ate too much meat or not enough fish. Or
maybe our government and public health officials have filled our heads
with so much bullshit we wouldn’t know the truth if it bit us
in the ass!
What’s that you say, I sound angry? Yeah, well you haven’t
heard the really infuriating part yet. You haven’t heard the
part about the medical bureaucracy being scarier than the diseases
I’ve battled or that the medical system consistently contributed
to my pain and suffering rather than alleviate it. Of the 10 operations
I endured, only 4 were necessary. The others were overt mistakes,
corrective surgery for those mistakes, or arbitrary and often poor
decisions made by physicians while key information and options were
not made available to me.
While I was journeying through this insane parallel universe, the
message I kept getting from society in general was to pull myself
together and get on with my life. When I looked for accountability
for what I had endured, I was told to file lawsuits against those
who had caused me undue pain and injury. How does one go about suing
several doctors, a hospital and a major breast implant company while
risking financial ruin in the process, without feeling like each day
is a living hell and without going out of your freaking mind?
Then there’s depression. Just when you think you’ve survived
the worst, the quiet malice of depression sets in. Depression and
I frequently engage in a very dangerous dance. I allow it to creep
into my life as long as it doesn’t threaten to destroy me. As
I embrace depression, I sometimes peer into its mouth and pray it
won’t swallow me up. If depression does take its hold, you get
sent to a shrink of some sort, highly trained in the male dominant,
allopathic sciences, who will prescribe antidepressants to help you
make it through the day and to suppress any suicidal inclinations
you may have. But wait -- you pick-up your bottle of antidepressants
and written on the bottle is the following:
"Patients with major depressive disorder, both adult and pediatric,
may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence
of suicidal ideation and behavior . . . "
You’re screwed. You and I are both in Crazyworld.
Breast Health - Cancer Prevention
RACE FOR THE CURE? RUN FOR THE MONEY!
October is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a time when
there’s an endless eruption of pink ribbons, a time when we
all put on our pink wigs, shirts, socks, running shoes, dig deep into
our pockets and run like hell for the sake of breast cancer awareness.
How many years will it take of running in pink races and throwing
money at the problem before corporate America and government health
officials are satisfied that Americans get the breast cancer message?
How dense do they think we are? We know -- we get it. We’re
the ones whose bodies and lives are being ravaged by this disease.
What we want to know is WHY women are suffering and dying from breast
cancer when more and more money and research are supposedly directed
toward finding a cure? The equation is not balanced. The numbers don’t
BREAST CANCER IS A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY....
I’ll tell you why breast cancer is alive and well today. It’s
because it has become a multi-billion dollar industry and finding
a cure doesn’t fit into the equation. The October fanfare called
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was carefully constructed
by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. They manufacture two of
the most popular breast cancer drugs in the United States, Nolvadex
(tamoxifen) and Arimidex (anastrozole). Up until recently, AstraZeneca
was the third largest producer of pesticides in the United States.
They also have final say over any literature related to NBCAM. Most
of that messaging is limited to early detection and reminding women
to get their mammograms. There’s never any information on why
women are increasingly developing the disease and dying from it.
The Susan G. Komen annual "Race for the Cure" is one of
AstaZeneca’s fundraising tools which generates a great deal
of money sponsored by some of the biggest polluters, Oxychem (formerly
Occidental Chemicals), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ford Motor Company, Chevron
and PG&E to name a few. The money generated by events like Race
for the Cure frequently ends up back in the coffers of these same
corporate polluters in the name of breast cancer drug research and
One of the key sponsors for Race for the Cure for the past four years
has been Yoplait. Yoplait uses dairy products containing the genetically
engineered growth hormone, Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST).
Studies have found an increased risk of both prostate and breast cancer
with the ingestion of milk from rBST treated cows. Yet, Yoplait proudly
displays a pink ribbon on each of their sleekly designed yogurt containers
advertising the promise of proceeds being directed toward eradicating
breast cancer. How do these people sleep at night?
Then there’s the standardized public messaging collaboratively
crafted between industry and government which very carefully and pointedly
dumps all responsibility of cancer risks squarely onto the shoulders
of each individual. There’s never a finger that points to environmental
pollution which would then point a finger at industry and public health
agencies. Let’s examine the major risk factors generated by
public health institutions.
MAJOR RISK FACTORS GENERATED BY PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTIONS
Aging - This is usually at the top of the list of
breast cancer risk factors. This gives you an idea of how little our
experts really know about the disease. Think about it. Doesn’t
the risk for most diseases increase with age? This hardly seems to
be based on rigid science.
Family history of breast cancer - Public health
officials would have you believe that a family history of breast cancer
points to genetics as a major contributor to your risk factors. The
truth is, a family history points more to environmental factors than
genetics. Only about 5 - 10% of all breast cancers can be associated
with heredity. This means that 90 - 95% of all breast cancers are
connected to environmental factors shared by other family members
Genetics - As indicated previously, up to 10% of
all breast cancers are associated with heredity. The primary genetic
link found so far is in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutation found
in about 5% of breast cancer patients. But even a genetic predisposition
for the disease does not guarantee you will ever develop breast cancer.
The disease is still triggered by environmental factors.
Early menstruation or late menopause - This implies
that the longer you have increased estrogen and hormonal fluctuations
surging through you, the more likely you are to develop breast cancer.
This may be true but it doesn’t make clear "where"
these hormones are coming from. It defies logic to assume the estrogen
produced by our own bodies has suddenly turned deadly. Our bodies
appear to be over producing estrogen. So where is this extra estrogen
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreign estrogens (xenoestrogens)
in the environment caused by man-made chemicals that are binding to
our own estrogen receptors and fooling the body into responding to
it as a natural hormone (e.g., plastics, cosmetics, pesticides, etc.).
What’s more likely to be harmful, your body’s own natural
estrogen that has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years or a
man-made chemical developed within the last hundred years?
Obesity - There is definitely a correlation between
estrogen levels and body fat. Obese women do tend to have higher estrogen
levels than their leaner counterparts. Obesity, however, is not the
only estrogen determinant. Women who are physically active have higher
estrogen levels as well as women with greater muscle mass.
As mentioned previously, women are also exposed to many synthetic
hormones. One example is the hormones given to the animals we eat
such as cattle. Hormones are given to cattle to fatten them up. We
then eat the beef and ingest these hormones. What is to prevent us
from being fattened-up as well?
Toxins are also stored in fat. A significant amount of the breast
is composed of fat. More breast fat also corresponds with larger amounts
of stored toxins. It’s also important to remember that many
toxins stored in breast tissue may not only be toxic, but estrogenic
Delayed childbirth (after age 30) - This risk factor
seems to also implicate estrogen as a sinister agent. There’s
actually much more going on here. Information known to the scientific
community has been intentionally withheld from the American public
concerning breast development and breast cancer risk. The female breast
is not fully matured until after the first full-term pregnancy. Immature
breasts are more vulnerable to breast cancer. In line with this fact,
research has shown that women having a first child before age 20 have
a lower than average breast cancer risk. To avoid promoting teen pregnancy,
30 became the arbitrary age cut-off to have a first child before a
woman’s breast cancer risk increased significantly. This ignores
data indicating it has been increasing since age 20.
Smoking - Smoking has only been recently added to
the list of breast cancer risks. Frankly, I don’t know why it
hasn’t always been on the list. It’s a known carcinogen
and smoking is associated with early menopause and is known to promote
the aging process. Aging, you’ll remember, is usually the first
risk factor listed for breast cancer.
Alcohol - Alcohol is another new addition to the
list of breast cancer risk factors. This is based on several large
studies including a new study involving 61,463 Swedish women. The
Swedish study divided women’s dietary habits into three categories,
Western Diet, Healthy Diet, and the Drinker Diet. As implied by the
title, women categorized under the Drinker Diet were heavy drinkers.
We already know that large amounts of alcohol is very unhealthy. Blood
estrogen levels appear to increase with regular, heavy alcohol consumption
and may contribute to breast cancer risks. Again, I don’t see
this as breakthrough information. When I was growing up I noticed
that some of the male friends and family members I encountered who
were alcoholics often had overdeveloped breasts once they hit middle-age.
At the age of 10 I figured out there was probably a connection.
History of breast biopsies revealing pre-cancerous conditions
- If you already have a diagnosed pre-cancerous breast condition
then you are obviously at greater risk for breast cancer in the future.
Breast Health - Cancer Prevention
DIRECT RISK FACTOR THAT IS NOT ON THE LIST...
Now I’d like to introduce a much more direct risk factor that
is not on the list -- radiation. Radiation is the only known cause
for breast cancer yet it is not on the list of risk factors. Knowing
the direct link between radiation and breast cancer, we certainly
know that any exposure to radiation increases your chances of developing
the disease. So why isn’t it included as a risk factor? Perhaps
the powers-that-be are afraid women would start asking too many questions
like why radiation is used as a screening tool and as a breast cancer
treatment if it is a direct cause of the disease? Women might begin
questioning the frequency of dental and chest x-rays and other risks
to which they are unnecessarily being subjected. If women finally
woke up to the deceit and environmental oppression being perpetuated
upon them and their children, they might take to the streets in large
numbers and demand accountability and justice. "Big Brother"
certainly wouldn’t like that.
TIME magazine came out with a breast cancer story in October 2005
that followed a woman through the first year and a half recovery after
being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was more of a photo story than
a narrative. The woman is young, slender and attractive. The photo
of her bald chemo profile is almost glamorous. The article begins
by saying the woman was 39 years old when he was diagnosed and was
the picture of perfect health. She’s a non-smoker, a marathon
runner, had her children in her 20’s, checked her breasts every
month and guess what? She still got breast cancer in both breasts.
You turn the page and there’s a series of black and white photos
of her receiving loving support from her family. In another shot she’s
being examined for, what appears to be, the perfect breast reconstruction.
The only photo of her in any pain or "discomfort" (I hate
that word) is a photo of her grimacing while her breast expander is
being filled with saline -- a preliminary procedure necessary to stretch
the chest wall in preparation for an implant. As a breast cancer veteran
myself, I can say with certainty that increasing the breast expander
was the least of my painful breast cancer experiences.
The last photo in the series is a touching one of the breast cancer
veteran, now with hair, displaying a wide-open smile while her daughter
gently cups her mother’s chin in her hand. The series ends with
a quote from the now recovered breast cancer patient, "It’s
been the worst and the greatest year and a half of my life. I wouldn’t
trade It." I wonder if she’d feel the same way if she knew
her daughter would have to face the same fate. Statistics indicate
it would probably be even worse for her daughter. She’s at greater
risk for developing the disease at an earlier age while quality medical
care is declining. I wouldn’t wish these circumstances on my
Don’t get me wrong; I truly feel for this woman. I too have
lost both breasts because of this disease. But we both have been sold
a bill of goods. She is under the delusion that all that can be done
is being done for her health and welfare. Nothing could be further
from the truth.
Many women who initially win the breast cancer battle run a significant
risk of having a reoccurrence within 5 years of their diagnosis. In
addition, if they have had chemo, radiation and hormonal therapy,
each treatment increases the risk of having a secondary cancer. All
three treatments are carcinogenic. Even if a woman manages to survive
all this, she often suffers from depression and even Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). Then there are husbands who leave, children
who are traumatized, and the loss of jobs and health insurance. Why
didn’t TIME cover this story?
Breast Health - Cancer Prevention
TREATMENTS TO TREAT, BUT NOT CURE, THE SAME DESEASES
CHEMICAL COMPANIES HELPED TO CREATE...
Chemical companies create poisons that perpetuate disease. Then their
pharmaceutical subsidiaries develop overpriced treatments to treat,
but not cure, the same diseases they helped to create. What an ingenious
self perpetuating system. Representatives from these corporations
often end-up working for the EPA, FDA or other government overseeing
agencies. Representatives from major pharmaceutical companies sit
on grant review boards on any given day at the National Cancer Institute
(NCI) and decide who gets money to develop new cancer drugs without
any question of overall conflict of interest. I have sat on these
panels where a clear conflict of interest not only goes unchallenged
but has become part of the modus operandi.
Monsanto Corporation has managed to single-handedly ensure that most
of us are unknowingly eating genetically modified food. Did you know
that the popular sweetener, aspartame, is a genetically engineered
product developed by Monsanto biotechnology? Probably not. It’s
certainly not mentioned in any ad campaign I’ve ever seen.
So the next time someone asks you to "Race for the Cure,"
run the "Relay for Life," or donate money to a worthy breast
cancer cause, ask who the sponsors are and follow the money trail.
Too often it ends up right back in the corporate coffers. Try to find
organizations that direct their funding to promote effective public
education, environmental research, and policy change based on the
RACE FOR THE CURE? RUN FOR THE MONEY!
By Marleen M. Quint, Women’s Health Advocate
MORE ARTICLES FOR YOU
- Who needs them?
Excerpt from Breast Cancer? Breast Health! By Susun S. Weed
READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER
- Who needs them?
mammograms are x-rays.
can't tell if there's cancer.
don't replace breast self-exams.
screening increases risk of breast cancer mortality in premenopausal
I haven't had a baseline mammogram.
mammograms lead to overtreatment.
mammograms don't increase your chances of being cured . . . or of
don't find cancer before it metastasizes.
mammograms life saving for women over 55?
screening mammograms aren't cost effective to society nor are they
there a less risky way to participate in screening mam-mography?
distract us from the need for societal commitment to true prevention.
there other ways to find early-stage breast cancers?
don't promote breast health.
You Decide to Have a Mammogram.
more Excerpts from Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
Breast Cancer? Breast Health!
S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts
healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of
surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen.Foreword by Christiane
Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.
"What a gift to women of all ages! This book helped me overcome
my fear of what I might discover during self-examination. I am so
grateful that this book came my way and I am healthier in mind, body,
and spirit thanks to Ms. Weed's wise words! All of my questions and
doubts were addressed in a voice that speaks for all the wise women
who have chosen the path of natural and sensible personal health.
If I could, I would give a copy of this book to every woman in the
Retails for $14.95
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