(NaturalNews) As we near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, once again our country has been awash from shore to shore in a sea of pink - from pink ribbons and donation boxes to pink products, charity promotions, celebrities by the score and even pink cleats on NFL players. Tragically, most people are unaware of the dark history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) and of the players past and present who have misused it to direct people and funds away from finding a true cure, while covering up their own roles in causing and profiting from cancer.
In this installment of the series, we will examine the dangers of over-screening for cancer and the lack of progress in breast cancer prevention and cures.
The Dangers of Over-Screening for Cancer
A new analysis published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that screening for both breast and prostate cancer both have a problem that runs counter to everything people have been told about cancer: The screenings are resulting in finding cancers that do not need to be found because they would never spread and kill or even be noticed if left alone. That has in turn led to a huge increase in diagnoses of innocuous cancers that would have otherwise gone undetected.
At the same time, the analysis, "Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer" also found that both screening tests are not making much of a dent in the number of cancers that actually are of a deadly variety. In the instance of breast cancer, that could be because many lethal breast cancers gain a foothold and spread rapidly between mammograms. The dilemma for breast and prostate screening is that it is not usually clear which tumors need aggressive treatment. Many believe that a major reason that is not clear is because studying it has not been much of a priority.
"The issue here is, as we look at cancer medicine over the last 35 or 40 years, we have always worked to treat cancer or to find cancer early," Dr. Barnett Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health, said. "And we never sat back and actually thought, `Are we treating the cancers that need to be treated?` "
Finding insignificant cancers is the reason the breast and prostate cancer rates soared when screening was introduced, Dr. Kramer said. And those cancers, he said, are the reason screening has the problem called overdiagnosis - labeling innocuous tumors cancer and treating them as though they could be lethal when in fact they are not dangerous.
"Overdiagnosis is pure, unadulterated harm," he said.
Dr. Peter Albertsen, chief and program director of the urology division at the University of Connecticut Health Center, said this has not been an easy message to get across. "Politically, it`s almost unacceptable," Dr. Albertsen said. "If you question overdiagnosis in breast cancer, you are against women. If you question overdiagnosis in prostate cancer, you are against men."
The Lack of Progress behind the Pink Curtain
There has been quite a bit of publicity in the mainstream medicine and mainstream media in recent years over what has been announced as a slight downward trend in the occurrence of breast cancers and annual breast cancer deaths (though black women, whose cancer rates and deaths continue to climb, likely find little solace in the announced trend). When one peels back the veil of so-called progress, little credit can be given to increased screenings and mammograms. Instead, most of the credit is likely due to the decreased use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Further, when one subtracts the figures for DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), the much touted successes against breast cancer take on a complete different perspective. DCIS, is categorized as a stage 0 cancer, and has a cure rate of almost 100%. At one time, DCIS was considered a pre-cancerous condition and was not included in cancer survival statistics.
Today, when we see 5 year survival figures of 96% quoted for localized breast cancers, those figures actually fall precipitously when one figures in the 60,000 annual DCIS diagnoses. A truer look at cancer survival rates would be the 77% five year survival for women whose cancer has spread locally and the dismal 5-10% five year survival rates for those whose cancers have metastasized beyond the original region.
Though often equated as "cures", survival of five years does not indicate that anyone has beaten cancer and will live a cancer free normal lifespan. In fact, those who survive for five years frequently still have cancer and most of those who are cancer free can expect a return of cancer at some point in time. The average overall survival time for women with breast cancer beyond five years is a mere 26 months.
Regardless of the figures quoted, breast cancer remains the number one cancer killer for Hispanic women and the number two cancer killer for Black and Anglo women.
In the final installment of this series, we will take a look at true breast cancer prevention and cures and some alternative charities and organizations that have no cozy relationship with those who profit from cancer and contribute to its causes.
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year. He is also a contributing author for the worldwide advocacy group "S.A N.E.Vax. Inc" which endeavors to uncover the truth about HPV vaccine dangers. Mr. Isaacs is currently residing in scenic East Texas and frequently commutes to the even more scenic Texas hill country near Austin and San Antonio to give lectures and health seminars. He also hosts the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs - featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and he serves as a consultant to the "Utopia Silver Supplement Company".