The Cancer Industrial Complex & the Profitable Misery It Causes (Part 3): The American Cancer Society’s Squalid History

Paul Cienfuegos’ December 22, 2015 Commentary on KBOO Evening News


(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at,, or subscribe via ITunes. Listen to this one HERE.)


Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.


Today is my third commentary about what I call the “cancer industrial complex”. Last week I focused on what the American Cancer Society does and does not do with the almost one billion dollars it raises annually. Today I’m going to focus on the appalling history of the American Cancer Society, and try to convince you that this so-called nonprofit organization – the wealthiest nonprofit in the world – is actually merely a front group for Corporate America. In 1992, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the ACS was “more interested in accumulating wealth than in saving lives”. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Here are some critical moments in the life story of the American Cancer Society, which I’ll refer to as ACS from now on, to save a bit of time. 


* In the 1950's, the leaders of the ACS included corporate executives from the tobacco industry. Even after massive studies provided compelling evidence linking smoking and cancer, the ACS still dragged its feet in acknowledging the link, claiming that more research was required.


* From the 1950's to the present, the ACS has maintained an actual committee whose purpose is to aggressively attack natural medicine alternatives to the cancer drug industry's monopoly on cancer treatments. Originally called “The Committee on Quackery”, it is now called “The Committee on Unproven Methods of Cancer Management”.


* In 1971, when studies unequivocally proved that DES caused vaginal cancers in teenage daughters of women administered the drug during pregnancy, the ACS refused an invitation to testify at the congressional hearing.


* In 1977, the ACS supported a delay in the FDA banning saccharin and even advocated its use by nursing mothers and babies.


* In 1977 and ‘78, the ACS opposed regulations being proposed for hair coloring products that contained dyes known to cause breast cancer.


* In 1982, the ACS decided that it would take no position at all on public health hazards until there was unequivocal human evidence of carcinogenicity. Accordingly, it rejected evidence in animal experiments, and actively campaigned against laws that banned harmful food additives.


* In 1983, the ACS refused to join a national coalition of groups supporting the Clean Air Act.


* In 1984, the ACS inaugurated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which still happens every October. It was conceived and funded by Imperial Chemical Industries, a leading international manufacturer of petrochemicals, and by its US subsidiary, Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, the sole manufacturer of Tamoxifen, which is widely used for treating breast cancer.


* In 1992, the ACS issued a joint statement with the Chlorine Institute in support of the continued global use of organochlorine pesticides - despite clear evidence that some of these pesticides were known to cause breast cancer.


* In 1993, PBS broadcast a Frontline documentary on the dangers of pesticides. In response, the ACS published a memo titled “Junk Science at PBS”, which challenged the documentary’s claim “that pesticide residue in food may be at hazardous levels”, and which attempted to reassure the public that carcinogenic pesticide residues in food were safe, even for babies.


* In 1996, the ACS and other groups petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ease restrictions on access to silicone gel breast implants, even though they knew that the implants had been shown to cause cancer in rodents.


* In 1997, the ACS insisted that there are no known avoidable causes of breast cancer, and that there is little - except stopping smoking and reducing fat intake - that any woman could do to reduce her risk.


* In 1998, the ACS allocated less than 1% of its then $680 million annual budget to research on environmental causes of cancer. 


* In 1999, the ACS trivialized the risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer from consumption of bovine growth hormone genetically modified milk, which is outlawed in much of the world.


* In 2002, the ACS partnered with the cosmetics industry's “Look Good Feel Better” program, but failed to disclose information on the carcinogenic ingredients in the products that were donated to the unsuspecting female cancer survivors.


* In 2002, the ACS reassured the nation that exposure to pesticides, toxic waste in dump sites, and ionizing radiation from nuclear power plants were all “at such low levels that cancer risks are negligible.”


The active mobilization against the ACS and its lies seems to have mostly dried up in the past decade. But Dr. Samuel Epstein continues to be the leading voice challenging this phony nonprofit organization. He’s one of my heroes, and a leading international expert on the environmental causes of cancer. In his own words, “[T]he approach of the ACS to cancer prevention reflects a virtually exclusive ‘blame the victim’ philosophy. It emphasizes faulty lifestyle rather than ... avoidable exposure to workplace or environmental carcinogens. Giant corporations, which profit handsomely while they pollute the air, water, and food with breast and other carcinogens, are greatly comforted by the silence of the ACS.”


You can find his and other writings at these websites:

* The Cancer Prevention Coalition at

* Breast Cancer Action at, and

* The Breast Cancer Fund at, which also lists many other related organizations.


As you may have heard me say last week, I am organizing a massive educational disruption of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life in downtown Portland on May 13. I urge you to get in touch with me if you’d like to participate.


You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.


You can subscribe to my weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at You can sign up for my ‘Community Rights Updates’ at You can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for.

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