breast cancer

To the Editor: When Dr. Samuel Epstein (letter, March 15) refers to "the cancer epidemic," he apparently believes that if he and his activist cohorts repeat a falsehood often enough, the American public will come to believe it. The facts, however, prove that the opposite is true: according to statistics published by the National Cancer Institute, and endorsed by the American Cancer Society, cancer incidence and mortality rates have been declining over the past five years.
To the Editor: While scanning my wife's copy of April 1999 Elle I was dismayed to see poor health advice dispensed because of inappropriate risk comparisons. On page 275 the "Health News" column states that oral contraceptive pills have dangers that include "a 50% greater risk of circulatory disease and a 20% increased risk of breast cancer," which belies the next statement that the risk is "very remote."
New York, NY, November 18, 1998. Consumers should use caution when interpreting a new study on the possible hazards of eating well cooked meats, say scientists from the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). This study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, compared the preparation and consumption of meats by women who did and did not have breast cancer. Women who regularly ate well done red meats were shown to have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who consistently preferred their meats cooked rare or medium. The authors of the study point to heterocyclic amines compounds formed in meats cooked at high temperatures (by broiling or grilling, for example) until well done as the likely culprits.
Nearly three decades ago, in response to America's growing fear of a most elusive and deadly foe, Richard Nixon declared a "war on cancer." Behind this charge was the notion that personifying cancer as a battlefield enemy would lead to its "defeat." Politicians, keen on the potency of this issue, have followed his lead, picking up votes along the way. This "war" may contribute more to a congressman's longevity in the house than to a constituent's longevity. Yet, as politicians funnel money towards a "good cause," cancer provides the perfect alibi for dubious motives and wasteful appropriations.
Is your reproductive system in danger? (Science & Technology, Sept. 14) was misleading. Rates of breast cancer are stable, not "soaring." The increased incidence of this disease from 1980 to 1992 was due to improved detection methods. Screening mammography became widespread, and more low grade tumors were detected; note that mortality rates were level during this same period and now show a slight decline. The article also alludes to a report by John Brock, who found an association between high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and non Hodgkin's Iymphoma in a small, retrospective study. There are many other studies that found decreased incidence of cancer in workers who had been occupationally exposed to PCBS for decades.
Nearly three decades ago, in response to America's growing fear of a most elusive and deadly foe, Richard Nixon declared a "war on cancer." Behind this charge was the notion that personifying cancer as a battlefield enemy would lead to its "defeat." Politicians, keen on the potency of this issue, have followed his lead, picking up votes along the way. This "war" may contribute more to a congressman's longevity in the house than to a constituent's longevity. Yet, as politicians funnel money towards a "good cause," cancer provides the perfect alibi for dubious motives and wasteful appropriations.
The public is often faced with conflicting "expert" opinions on how dietary components allegedly contribute to the cause, prevention, and cure of a host of health and even social problems. These supposedly nutrition-related problems range from Alzheimer's disease and immunologic disorders to juvenile delinquency and homicidal behavior. Every year the popular press provides appealingly simple "explanations" of purported dietary causes of such problems, blaming an excess or lack of specific food constituents or ingredients and portraying dietary supplements or specific exclusionary diets elimination diets as beneficial to sufferers. The nutrition scientists the media interview about such claims typically express skepticism. Small wonder that the public is confused.
This report was originally written by Alan C. Fisher, Dr.P.H., and Wendy Worth, Ph.D. It was revised by Debra A. Mayer, M.P.H., a Research Associate in Epidemiology at the American Council on Science and Health. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This report is a revised and updated version of a report on diet and cancer published by ACSH in 1985. The original report was written by Michael W. Pariza, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin, an ACSH Scientific Advisor. The new edition was prepared by Kathleen Meister, M.S., a free-lance medical writer and former ACSH Research Associate. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The public has been bombarded with messages urging everyone to make substantial dietary changes to reduce their risk of cancer. Americans have been led to believe that the link between specific dietary factors and cancer is solid and convincing, and that dietary modification should be top priority in cancer prevention. In actuality: