Sunday, November 6, 2011

Let's Stand Up by Preventing Cancer

The infomercials for Stand Up To Cancer awareness have appeared frequently on television in recent weeks.  I am a baseball fan, and noticed that during the 2011 World Series, several promotions appeared touting Major League Baseball's support for this cancer awareness organization.

I observed that the Stand Up To Cancer spots were often sandwiched in between  commercials for fast food chains.   The irony of these juxtaposed commercials was not lost on me.

Stand Up To Cancer is not responsible for the commercial content of major league baseball games, and I understand that the networks that broadcast games must support themselves with revenue from advertisements.    I thought it ironic, however, that commercials for fast food chains and public service announcements for cancer awareness and the fight against cancer found themselves as bedfellows during these broadcasts.

I mention this not to cast disparagement on Stand Up To Cancer or Major League Baseball.  However, being curious, I visited Stand Up's website.  The small print at the bottom of the organization's home page says, "Stand Up To Cancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization."  I admit to having an ulterior motive for taking the time to find out more about this organization.  I wanted to see if Stand Up To Cancer played any role in the prevention of cancer.  Most organizations of this type are heavily oriented towards research and treatment, and devote very little, if any, energy directed towards prevention.  I long for the days when organizations that aim to eradicate cancer will devote some of their energies to the successful prevention that we know about ..... diet, exercise and other healthy lifestyle strategies.

First, I went to the page that stated Stand Up's mission statement.  I was gratified to find the word prevention in the first paragraph which stated:

"We now understand the very biology that drives cancer. With knowledge gained from the mapping of the human genome, we can now target the genes and pathways that are involved in turning normal cells into cancerous ones. We are on the brink of possessing a toolbox full of new, advanced technologies just waiting to be adapted to benefit patients. Right before us, so close we can almost touch them, are scientific breakthroughs in the prevention (emphasise mine), detection, treatment and even reversal of this disease."

Nevertheless, my further diving into the content of Stand Up To Cancer's website showed that this is clearly an organization whose main purpose is to raise funds and promote research to cure, rather prevent cancer.  The focus is on human genome research and drug and other treatment and on the "biology that drives cancer", rather than the environmental conditions and human behavior that causes cancer.  We certainly need better cancer treatments.  At least as important, if not more so, is for organizations such as this to use a major portion of their funding to conduct more research on prevention strategies.  They should also recognize the excellent research that has already been conducted clearly demonstrating the lifestyle causes of cancer….poor diet, lack of exercise, low nutrient levels, obesity, etc…..and use some of their resources to educate the public about how to keep cancer from occurring in the first place. 

Why, the lack of emphasis on prevention?  Because research follows the money, and the money is to study human genome science and invent drug and other therapies that will generate lots of revenue to the medical, pharmaceutical and scientific communities.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman makes this point very well on a recent post on his blog DiseaseProof.  Dr. Fuhrman, referring to Breast Cancer Awareness Month says, "It is obvious this pink product promotion kick is all about promoting mammograms so radiologists can make more money."  He also states that often these breast cancer awareness organizations are "affiliated with drug companies and mammogram machine companies. They are also supported by companies such as Omaha Steaks, Pretzel Crisps, Boar’s Head Meats, General Mills, and ACH Foods (which makes margarine and cooking oils for fast food restaurants)."

Stand Up To Cancer has many sponsors listed on its website including McDonald's, Tasti D Lite, Appleby's, and Hershey's.  They are also closely affiliated with Amgen,  a pharmaceutical company, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  Stand Up To Cancer's 'partner/heroes' are listed here.   The organization is closely affiliated with The American Association of Cancer Research, which lists on its website these corporate sponsors - Amgen, Astrazeneca, Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb,  Lilly, Johnson and Johson, and many other pharmaceuticals.

With these sponsor-types,  organizations such as Stand Up To Cancer turn a blind eye to some of the most promising noninvasive, no side effect weapons against this dreadful disease. What a tragedy.  I long for the days when the 'super-hero' advocates for eradicating cancer understand that many of the most effective ways to keep cancer at bay cannot be found in the medical-industrial complex, but are as obvious as the food on our plates.

No comments: