Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) took a major step forward in the fight against breast cancer. They will finally start tracking breast cancer recurrences—which are a major cause of death in the U.S. and globally.
The problem is…the NCI should have started tracking them nearly 50 years ago, when they first had the chance!
Let’s jump right in, starting with a bit of personal history…
NCI (twice!) abandoned trove of data on breast cancer survivors
Back in the mid-1980s, when I went to work as a young researcher at the NCI, the government had just completed a huge, expensive study on breast cancer screening called the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project (BCDDP). The study identified thousands of women with breast cancer at 29 different medical centers around the country.
My colleagues and I knew that breast cancer survivors can live a long time. The disease typically has a very good survival rate, especially among women who develop it in middle age and older age.
So, we proposed that the NCI continue a “further follow-up” of the BCDDP women to learn more about breast cancer survival and recurrence, as well as to analyze other outcomes, like heart disease and hip fractures, that were being neglected in women. We went out across the country, meeting with doctors about continuing to follow these women with breast cancer, who were right there, right then, being seen at their centers. Our research team was very enthusiastic…as were the breast cancer researchers and doctors at the 29 medical centers around the country.
But then, suddenly, the big political boss at our NCI division pulled the plug on us and completely shelved the idea. Even after the considerable expenditure that had already been made to create the BCDDP in the first place!
Apparently, instead of continuing to follow the BCDDP women, the new NCI boss wanted to chase ridiculous theories about what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. (By the way, all those popular theories turned out to be wrong!)
Well, I soon learned that each new political science bureaucrat who came in had to do things his or her way and make his or her mark. And even though a BCDDP follow-up did continue in some form, the NCI still doesn’t have the data on breast cancer recurrence that doctors needed then—and still need today. Which is truly disheartening.
Looking back even further, we know that this wasn’t the only time the NCI had missed a golden opportunity to really delve into which breast cancer survivors remain cancer-free and disease-free over the long-run…and which go on to develop it again.
In fact, the very first time the government began to drop the ball on breast cancer recurrences was 48 years ago—even before my time at NCI—when it had set up the Survival, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database…
Missed opportunity dates back almost 50 years
SEER, which began in 1973, is the mother lode of all U.S. cancer data. At first, it focused on gathering statistics on the incidence (occurrences) of cancers nationally. Then, it expanded to include subgroups of different cancers at different stages of diagnosis.
But it never included data on breast cancer survivors—until now! And the only reason the NCI will start to track them is because they got some funding from the Department of Energy (DoE), of all places!
Believe it or not, the DoE actually has a strong history of supporting important cancer research neglected by the NCI...
DoE sponsors important, neglected cancer research
The DoE had their own cancer research program going back to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to look at the effects of radiation and other factors on cancer. (In the mid-1990s, I hosted Sen. Mark O. Hatfield [R-Oregon] on a tour at Walter Reed Medical Center, where the archives I managed had the original cases from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a young U.S. Army officer, Hatfield had been one of the first on the scene in Hiroshima after the war ended. You may also recognize Hatfield’s name from the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, that was seized and destroyed by “peaceful protests” last year.)
I had my own experience with the DoE when I worked with Nobel laureate Baruch Blumberg, Ph.D., and his graduate student Richard Stevens back in the mid-1980s. We sought funding from the DoE for our studies on excess iron as a cause of cancer after the NCI had rejected the idea.
Thankfully, the DoE funded our research and allowed us access to analyze the taxpayer–funded government database. Eventually, we published our results in the New England Journal of Medicine, the granddaddy of them all, and the International Journal of Epidemiology.
So, once again, it looks like some real scientists at DoE finally shook NCI out of its over-funded, over-fed complacency to move forward with long-overdue, important research into breast cancer. But breast cancer survivors themselves also helped move this effort forward…
In fact, Katherine O’Brien, an activist with the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, spearheaded the creation of an online petition back in 2015 calling on the NCI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state cancer registries to start tracking recurrences and counting people living with metastatic breast cancer. (The pink ribbon crowd largely ignores women with serious and deadly metastatic breast cancer. Instead, they celebrate survival from “fake cancers” or non-fatal abnormalities, and “saving the lives” of women whose lives were never at risk in the first place.)
What a sad, scandalous state of affairs that we have to bludgeon the government’s foremost cancer research agency into doing the right thing. And only then, when another government agency with a fraction of the research funds helps pay for it!
Of course, you don’t have to wait around for the NCI to get its act together. (You may be kept waiting a long time, in their 50–year-old “war on cancer.”) In fact, there are dozens of other safe, natural alternatives to help prevent, detect, AND treat cancer. I’ve outlined them all in detail in my groundbreaking online learning tool, my Authentic Anti-Cancer Protocol.
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P.S. I also expose fatal flaws in all three of mainstream medicine’s go-to cancer treatments—and my four-step plan for combatting breast cancer naturally—in the current issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures. Not yet a subscriber? All it takes is one click!
“After 48 Years, NCI Aims to Track Breast Cancer Recurrences.” Medscape, 1/8/21. (medscape.com/viewarticle/943796)