by Colin Todhunter
Cancer is big business. Despite massive public screening campaigns and talk of cures, cancer rates continue to soar, and certain companies not only profit from making the chemicals that cause cancer but also from selling the drugs that treat it.
The 2010 documentary ‘Cut, Poison, Burn” provides revealing insight into the medical monopoly of cancer ‘treatment’, as a four year old boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer was compelled to undergo a system of chemo, surgery and radiation, against his parents wishes. He was not allowed access to a proven method of alternative treatment. The medical system’s response was callous. The authorities threatened to take the boy into custody and charged his parents with child abuse if the medical option was not opted for. The boy’s death certificate states his cause of death as: “respiratory failure due to chronic toxicity of chemotherapy”.
It is easy to conclude after watching the film that what we have here is some kind of corrupt racket. Indeed, the 2009 documentary ‘The Idiot Cycle’ alleges that some of the world’s top cancer causing culprits (including, it is claimed in the film, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Dupont, Monsanto, Syngenta, Novartis, Pfizer, among others) are allegedly profiting from the production of cancer-causing products and then some of the same companies are investing in profitable cancer ‘treatments’. These claims outlined in the movie remain to be fully verified.
On top of this, some of these companies are now developing genetically modified crops, which have never been adequately tested for long-term health impacts like cancer. The onset of the disease is frequently 15 to 20 years down the road for victims.
Prior to undertaking his recent study into the health impacts of GMOs and incurring the wrath of the GMO sector for his findings, Gilles-Eric Seralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, said it was absurd that only three months of testing allowed GM corn to be approved in over a dozen nations. Upon reviewing Monsanto’s raw data, he and his team found, among other problems, liver damage and physiological changes into a pre-diabetic condition among the rats which had eaten Monsanto’s GM corn. And that’s just from three months of eating such food. His new study was over a two year period.
The incidence of cancer is escalating and is expected to double by 2050, and it’s a global issue. For example, the incidence of cancer for some major organs in India is the highest in the world. While tobacco is a major cause, other factors cannot be discounted. Recent reports in the Indian media have drawn attention to rising rates of breast cancer in urban areas, and in 2009 there was a reported increase in cancer rates in Tamil Nadu’s textile belt, possibly due to chemically contaminated water. But without proper regulations in force, this may be the thin end of the wedge for India.
According to Dr Samuel Epstein, emeritus professor of environmental medicine at the University of Illinois, a range of industries in the US have contaminated the air, land and sea with a wide range of petrochemical and other carcinogens. This has not only affected the public at large, but has also placed workers in certain sectors and their offspring at risk of cancer.
Epstein notes that the incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has increased by nearly 100 per cent in the US over the last few decades, and brain cancer by about 80 to 90 per cent. Breast cancer has gone up by about 60 to 65 per cent. Testicular cancer – particularly in men between the ages of 28 and 35 – has gone up by nearly 300 percent. Epstein asserts that there has been a massive escalation in the incidence of cancer that cannot be explained away on the basis of smoking, longevity, genetics or a fatty diet. He may be right.
In the US, animal and dairy products are contaminated with a wide range of hormones, pesticides and other industrial chemical carcinogens, some of which are very important risk factors for reproductive cancers – testicular cancers in men, breast cancers in women and leukemia in children. The use of the IGF1 growth hormone in milk has been associated with breast, prostate and colon cancer.
Epstein provides various examples of everyday, taken-for-granted household items, cosmetics and toiletries, from deodorants to shampoo and talcum powder, which also contain chemicals that are carcinogens. The conclusion is that synthetic chemicals and their effects on people’s health affect everyone simply because they can be found in so many consumer products today. Unfortunately many governments roll over all too easily when it comes to sanctioning new synthetic chemicals without adequate testing, which is not too surprising, especially where pharmaceuticals are concerned – substantially more money is spent by companies on marketing and lobbying than on actual research into their drugs.
The usual tactic by officialdom is to individualise health issues by advising people to change their behaviour. While in certain cases individual behaviour may indeed minimise risks, there is not much the individual can do in terms of many of the major cancers that have increased in recent decades. By adopting a “blame the victim” strategy, attention is diverted away from the practices of large profiteering corporations that cause cancer and ill health.
Scientist Dr Shiv Chopra tells of his many battles against the Canadian government which knowingly allowed dangerous drugs, agricultural practices and carcinogenic pesticides to enter the food supply. Chopra asserts that there is a concerted effort by companies to sicken and then treat humanity, while raking in massive profits.
Whistleblowers like Chopra are playing a valuable role by exposing corrupt practices, and films like ‘Cut, Burn, Poison’ and ‘The Idiot Cycle’ are helping to shed light on the failure of the ‘war on cancer’ (war on drugs, war on terror… corrupt practices and failure – a common theme). At the same time, a number of pressure groups are actually engaged in trying to phase out the use of carcinogenic chemicals in products. As was the case when the tobacco companies were taken on, though, tackling the interests of powerful state-corporate actors is likely to be a long and arduous affair.