The dark side of the cancer lobby

Everyone with money to spend has lobbyists in Washington, DC.

For example, there are lobbyists against cancer—such as the politically correct anti-smoking legions. And all those who lobby for ever more funding for cancer research to “race for a cure” (while the cure always seem to out run them). But cancer-causers also have lobbyists.

When I first went to work as a senior investigator at the NCI in 1984, an influential book on the “Causes of Cancer,” was making the rounds.  It was written by British epidemiologists Richard Peto and Richard Doll.  (Dr. Doll had been around for awhile having early in his career participated in the Nazi War on Cancer as I discussed in my report Classified Cancer Answers.) And anything British seems to command more attention among American elites—including the “Mandarins of Medicine” at NIH. 

Doll and Peto posited that nearly 90 percent of human cancers were due to risk factors that are under the control of the individual. Things like diet, smoking, exercise, and sun exposure (although concerns about sunlight and moderate smoking have become overblown and left science behind, as I’ve told you before here in the Dispatch, as well as in my Insiders’ Cures newsletter).

That meant that potential industrial carcinogens—pollutants, aerosols, chemical additives to foods and consumer goods—were only considered a relatively minor problem. Despite the fact that government scientists have indeed classified numerous chemicals— such as formaldehyde, many common chemical solvents, as well as many widely-used pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides—as carcinogens. 

And that has led to some major lobbying from the chemical industry—to demand even more studies and data before any action is taken by the government. (This is essentially the same strategy NIH uses by endlessly researching the same questions on safety and effectiveness of CAM. Studies whose results always require …well, more studies,  ensuring that CAM never moves further into actual mainstream practice by physicians—fulfilling their unspoken agenda.)

But this sort of political heel-dragging is nothing new.

When I served at Walter Reed I was in charge of an archive that had been received from Dr. Arthur J. Vorwald of the Saranac Lake Laboratory for lung diseases, located high in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Originally, the Saranac Lake Lab was set up as a “Nature Cure” sanitarium for patients with tuberculosis (and, for the record, many of them made full recoveries there—without a single antibiotic). But later, the lab shifted to studying the effects of asbestos on lung diseases, including lung cancer. And despite the fact that the Vorwald archives from the 1930s provided evidence that asbestos is, in fact, carcinogenic, it took decades for industry and government to acknowledge the facts and actually take any action. 

Unfortunately, a lot of the science got lost in the process. Working with Nobel laureate Baruch Blumberg and his colleagues, we developed evidence that lung cancer is only caused by one type of the many different kinds of asbestos fibers. Which could have saved a lot of wasteful demolition, litigation, and hysteria about asbestos over the past several decades.

Yet my military medical superiors in the government strongly suggested that I not testify about it, either in courts, or even to their own Armed Forces Epidemiology Board (in terms of shipbuilding and pipefitting exposures, etc). 

They also strongly suggested I not participate in a conference that had been organized to look at other risk factors for lung cancer (i.e. factors other than smoking). 

When it comes to cancer, politics have consistently won out over science—whether it comes to smoking, asbestos, and now all these chemical carcinogens. And self-interest, whether protecting big industry or just petty government “careers,” has continually prevented the public from learning the truth. Until now, that is.