Those of you who read this blog (or read the old FCE newsletter back in the day) will know Snakemoon, a old friend and an FCE Senior Staff member. Snake read my recent post about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and sent this letter, which I print here with her permission. Snakemoon is a survivor of breast cancer.
My thanks go out to her for this powerful, personal view. I would also like to tip my witches' hat to all those who fight this disease and I dedicate these posts to my sister Aeron, who lost her fight breast cancer in the end but who lived a joyful, rich and worthy life, nonetheless. We miss you, girl.
on Breast Cancer Awareness
& What That Really Means
Thanks for doing this, missy! Here's another site I'd like everyone to know: Think Before You Pink. It helps people sort through the very tangible hype that accompanies this month's somewhat deceptive focus. Here's a note I sent to someone who was "pinking" me in the past (buy this, sign up here, walk for the cure -- some sort of pink action).....
As a breast cancer survivor and a former staff member of the Community Breast Health Project in Palo Alto, I always love it when people show a desire to help fight the breast cancer epidemic. However, I often wonder if people realize the realities behind the Susan G. Koman Foundation, Avon Walk for a Cure, etc. Many of these organizations support breast cancer screening but do nothing about treatment. This is a particular conundrum for low income women, who are entitled to find out they have a potentially life threatening disease, but not to do anything about it. These organizations also throw most of their financial support to standard research i.e. "let's find out why you might be genetically predisposed to get breast cancer" for example, but do not perform research into the potential environmental toxins that might influence the rise of breast cancer in the past 50 years. These research programs are often extremely long and theoretical, with little reflection on the needs of the actual women dying.
No one wants to look at the possibility that there are ways in which we are actually creating an environment in the body that leads to breast cancer. Why not? Well, the movement to make women aware of breast cancer is, in fact an industry, and one that has some interesting ties. According to information shared at a Town Hall Meeting for Breast Cancer Action, the origins of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and those little pink ribbons, for example, was as a PR activity of the Astra-Zeneca company, the firm that makes tamoxifen, a medicine used long-term to prevent breast cancer recurrence, which is itself a known carcinogen (it causes cervical cancer). This firm also owns a number of cancer treatment centers in the US. Before it became Astra-Zeneca, the company was division of Imperial Chemical, one of the leading global manufacturers of the very zenoestrogenic chemicals, chemicals that behave like false estrogens, that are highly suspected of influencing the rise of breast cancer. And Zeneca itself manufactures zenoestrogens. As one wag at a Breast Cancer Action town hall suggested, "Maybe it's like this: they give you breast cancer, they treat you for it, then they sell you a medication for 10 years to prevent it from coming back, which in turn gives you another cancer."
Which brings me to Breast Cancer Action. (1) If you want to make donations to groups that will actually help women, or research studies that are actually looking at causative factors or innovative ways to treat cancer, BCA is a good place to find out who is doing real research, and who is just dabbling their toes in the same old pool They're also good about debunking the b.s. I can't recommend them enough. For example, here is a page on the stuff I was talking about: BCA's Response to Click for a Cure.
(1) There is an link to this group in my original post and I'm grateful to Snake for pointing me to the addition article on Click for a Cure at their site - Sia
Links & Info
Embracing Women's Health - Dr. Mahoney, Co-Founder of the Community Breast Health Action in Palo Alto, CA
Karen's Beast Cancer Journal - This is full of very useful links
From Dr. Weil:
For those who don't know him, Dr. Andrew Weil has his medical degree from Harvard and has studied alternative medicine and non-western medicine for over 20 years. He is the author of many books among them, Healthy Aging.
To support national education during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Monday's Daily Tip throughout October will focus on breast cancer awareness, prevention and treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, every three minutes another woman learns she has breast cancer. The good news is that there are several strategies that can help reduce risk. Try incorporating the following lifestyle changes into your daily routine:
- Get active. Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes on most days) has been shown to be protective against breast cancer.
- Maintain your health care. Early detection is key: in addition to monthly self examinations, women between ages 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam performed by a health care professional at least every three years; women 40 years of age or older should have annual breast exams and mammograms.
- Supplement wisely. Folic acid, vitamin D and antioxidants all may help decrease risk.
- Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens. These chemicals with estrogen-like activity are found in common pesticides and industrial pollutants and as hormone residues in meat, poultry and dairy products.
- Avoid exposure to radiation. Limiting the number of chest x-rays, especially at a young age, may decrease the risk of breast cancer.
- Talk with your doctor. If you have close relatives with breast cancer, your personal risk is increased. Let your doctor know your family history, and discuss other ways you can help to prevent breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month by Sia