Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cancer and Corruption?

When I saw the American Cancer Society’s new line of commercials featuring celebrities singing Happy Birthday in celebration to those fighting cancer, I was touched. On their website, their mission seems clear; to eradicate cancer as a major health problem. More with more investigation, I found problems, huge problems, with the American Cancer Society. Groups such as The Cancer Prevention Coalition are saying the American Cancer Society is a corrupt corporation who is "more interested in acquiring wealth then saving lives." - Chronicle of Philanthropy.

According to James Bennett, a professor of economics at George Mason University who tracks charitable organizations, the American Cancer Society (ACS) held a fund balance of over $400 million with about $69 million worth of holdings in real estate, office buildings, and equipment in 1988. ("How raw land helps us find a cure for cancer or helps cancer victims is an enigma I can't fathom," says Bennett.) Of that money, the ACS spent only $90 million on medical research and related programs. That is barely a quarter of their budget. His lecture to the Cancer Control Society against the ACS can be read here.

It is now estimated that for every $1 spent on direct service, approximately $6.40 is spent on compensation and overhead. "The American Cancer Society is one of the most powerful and corrupt organizations in American society," said Barry Lynes a cancer expert and author.

Also, it is believed that the ACS receives money from chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies and, in exchange, the ACS protects their political and economic interests. Particularly, the ACS protects the corporate polluters that cause cancer by telling the public there is no connection between environmental pollution, food additives and cancer. Contributors to the ACS include carcinogen polluters General Electric and Dupont, and pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Novartis, and Smith-Kline Beecham. Despite a promise of cancer facts, the ACS neglects to inform the public about a number of well-documented cancer risks because of their “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” policy.

Even worse, some are saying that the ACS actually wants cancer to continue increasing. ACS Boardmember Gordon Binder is the CEO of Amgen, the world's foremost biotechnology company. Amgen's success rests almost exclusively on one product, Neupogen, a chemotherapy aide. As the cancer epidemic grows, sales for Neupogen continue to skyrocket. Mr. Binder profits from increasing cancer rates.

This is obviously a very controversial and upsetting issue. I, as well as my family, have supported the ACS and it hurts to learn that their intentions may be skewed. What do you think us, the citizens who are being deprived of cancer aid, should do? More information can be found in this article from the vice president of the Coalition and an article from Jeff Rense, an activist against the ACS.