We’re winning a battle, but losing the war against breast cancer

You may remember I served on the “Healthy People 2000” task force with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services back in 1990. The task force developed a set of health goals for U.S. men and women to reach by the year 2000.

The government repeats this same process every 10 years, mostly because we never reach most of the goals. Also — setting “new” goals every 10 years keeps an entire office of government bureaucrats perpetually employed.

Back when I worked on the project, one part of the team came up with five major “flagship” goals. The first goal was to extend average longevity in the U.S. to some arbitrary number. The second goal was to extend the average “number of healthy years of life without debilitating illness or disability” by another arbitrary number. That second number, unfortunately, was seven years shorter than the first number. I warned them the headline would be, “government health experts say Americans should spend last seven years of life sick and disabled.”

These goals miss the forest for the trees. Plus, as I feared, they resulted in some deadly outcomes.

Two ways to reduce racial health disparity: The right way, and the government way

 The “Healthy People” task force always runs one worthy “flagship” goal up the flagpole every 10 years: Reduce racial disparities in disease rates, longevity, and quality of life.

There are two ways to approach such an outcome.

First, you can try to raise everyone up to the same healthy standard. This approach represents the ideal goal.

The other way occurs when the health outcome for the healthier group is reduced, which takes everyone down to the same, unhealthy level. Clearly, the government all too often takes this inept but politically correct route.

For example, as the New York Times recently reported, the “the incidence of breast cancer among black women is equal to that of white women,” for the first time ever!

They should not trumpet this news as if it were some great achievement.

Did the racial gap for breast cancer close because rates declined in one, or both, groups? Or did the breast cancer rates in one group of women get worse to catch up (or down) to the other group?

Did they look at the actual data? If they had, they surely wouldn’t have trumpeted the results.

The deadly celebration of breast cancer “equality”

Investigators found breast cancer rates in black and white women in 2012 converged at about 135 cases per 100,000 women. A decade earlier the white rate was slightly lower at 132 cases per 100,000 women. The rate among black women was significantly lower, at just 124 cases per 100,000.

Now both groups get more breast cancer than they did before…and black women get significantly more than they did before.

So what is there to celebrate? Yes, we eliminated the racial disparity in breast cancer rates. Everyone is worse off. And some are even worse off than they were before.

The mainstream media and American Cancer Society seemed to celebrate a victory in reducing racial disparities. Such a celebration is not just politically correct silliness, but deadly too. In fact, the next time you hear a presidential candidate say, “political correctness is killing us,” here’s one example that shows he’s not exaggerating.

The mainstream keeps the focus on reductions in racial disparity and other silly “flagship goals,” rather than actually reducing breast cancer!

Meanwhile, breast cancer rates keep going up.

In fact, over the past 25 years or so, the risk of breast cancer dramatically increased — from about 1 in 11 to now about 1 in nine women. This past quarter-century is exactly the same period of time when “everyone” has been getting those useless mammograms to supposedly detect and prevent breast cancer.

But they don’t seem to pay enough attention to the real, ultimate data — mortality rates (death rates).

As I often point out, mortality rates are based on simple vital statistics regarding the size and composition of the population and the number of deaths. So the mainstream government-industrial-medical complex can’t manipulate or misrepresent them.

As I’ve suggested before, maybe we now simply detect more small, innocent “cancers,” or non-cancers (and maybe even cause some) with annual mammograms. But remember, <a href=””>we haven’t lowered the death rates from breast cancer in the population.

And it’s not just breast cancer that has been subject to this “one step forward, two steps back” scenario. I recently came across another “success” story for reducing the racial gap for healthy Americans.

 An entire generation caught in the “healthy people” crosshairs

According to data from the National of Academy of Sciences, death rates among white, middle-aged, middle-class Americans skyrocketed by 22 percent over the last 15 years. During this same period, death rates decreased in every other group by age, ethnic or racial identity, or other grouping, everywhere, worldwide.

Historically, middle-aged whites had the lowest death rates compared to non-white ethnic and racial groups. But again — consistent with the government’s pursuit of “healthy people” goals — the bottom dropped out for an entire generation of Americans. This time white, middle-aged Americans.

While health and longevity improved in every non-white group over the last 15 years, it dramatically and drastically declined among middle-class white Americans, at a rate never before observed with modern data in any group anywhere in the world.

So, is this the government’s way of reducing disparity? Make zero or marginal progress on the goals they publicize, but suffer dramatic losses in an entire generation of the majority of the population?

Big government’s politically correct way of promoting equality is to bring everyone down to the same, unhealthy level — like everything else big government designs.

Instead of improving things for everyone, it brings down the one large group temporarily in better shape. That’s counted as real progress for this government.

Always on the of science,

Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.


  1. “A Grim Breast Cancer Milestone for Black Women,” New York Times (www.nytimes.com) 10/29/2015
  1. “Breast cancer statistics, 2015: Convergence of incidence rates between black and white women,” CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians (www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com) 10/29/2015