Friday, August 10, 2012

Too Much Fundraising for Cancer Research

My children often wonder why I don't donate to the American Cancer Society or the Komen Foundation.  Of course, I, like most of you, want to find a cure for cancer.  However, most of the non-profit cancer foundations do not promote searching for an underlying cause of cancer  Instead, they perpetuate the myth that commonly used screening tests are winning the war against cancer.   We are clearly losing the war against cancer.  There are estimates that one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime.  That is a travesty.  

The Powers-That–Be in the cancer fundraising world--such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Komen Foundation--would have you believe we are making progress against cancer. However, we are not making any respectable progress. In fact, over the last 60 years, more and more people are diagnosed with cancer and more are dying from it. The Powers-That-Be are too busy fundraising and promoting faulty diagnostic tests such as mammograms instead of promoting research to determine the underlying cause of cancer and how to avoid getting cancer.

Let’s look at mammography. I have written about the mammography controversy in past blog posts and in my Natural Way to Health newsletter. In the 2009 newsletter, I wrote, “If mammograms were an effective screening tool, you would expect, over time, the earlier the disease is detected and treated that cases of more advanced disease would decline significantly.” However, this has not occurred from the use of mammography. Mammography is very sensitive. It has the ability to diagnose breast cancer at an early stage. However, mammography is not effective at saving lives.

A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal was titled, “How a charity oversells mammography.” (2) In this article, the authors have an ad from the Koman Foundation where a woman is stating, “What’s the key to surviving breast cancer?” The answer in the ad is “You.” Furthermore, the answer states the key to surviving is to “get screened now,” via mammography. However, the editorial correctly point out that a screening mammogram provides very little guarantee that it would save a life. In fact, the authors correctly state, “The best evidence indicates that {screening mammograms} will decrease the chance a 50 year old woman will die from breast cancer in the next 10 years {by} 0.07 percentage points.” Furthermore, they state, “…some experts question whether screening mammography has any benefit.” Finally, mammography is dangerous as it utilizes ionizing radiation.

We know that ionizing radiation causes cancer, including breast cancer. It is ludicrous to recommend yearly mammograms when, after 10 years of annual mammograms, a woman’s breasts have been exposed to the same amount of ionizing radiation that a woman received one mile from the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. So, what can you do? I think thermography is a safe and effective screening test for breast cancer. Thermography measures the temperature changes in the skin and the breast tissue. Breast cancer usually presents as ‘hot’ areas on a thermography report. I encourage my patients to use thermography as the initial screening test and follow-up with a mammogram or another radiological procedure if there is a problem detected. More information about thermagraphy can be found here:

The best way to avoid getting cancer is by adopting a holistic lifestyle which includes:
• Eating organic food free of pesticides, synthetic hormones and refined food
• Exercising daily
• Avoiding the use of drugs that increase the risk cancer including statin drugs and synthetic hormones such as Premarin, Provera and birth control pills
• Detoxifying (periodically) the liver and the colon
• Maintaining adequate nutrient levels including iodine and vitamin C Cancer is a deadly disease

If we do not change our bad dietary habits and adopt a more holistic approach I do not see our cancer statistics improving. I will be devoting an entire issue of my Natural Way To Health newsletter to this topic.

More information about this topic can be found here: 

(1) CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2012 (2) BMJ 2012;345:e5132 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e5132 (Published 2 August 2012) (3) The Breast Journal. May 2000. Vol. 6, N.3. p. 209-212


  • At August 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM , Anonymous Lynne Farrow said...

    Most breast cancer charities exist to market mammograms which fuel a profit stream to biopsy and other services.
    "Breast Cancer Awareness" is really a mammography industry marketing campaign.
    Yet, the jury is out on whether it causes more invasive cancers than it catches. See the Lancet:

  • At August 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM , Anonymous Kristy said...

    Dr. Brownstein,

    As the 27 year old daughter of a 52 year old man with Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung cancer (that has recently spread to a lymphnode in his neck and his adrenal gland) I honestly don't know how to digest this post. My dad was diagnosed 1 year 9 months and 2 days ago, and I'll tell you, it has been one hell of a rollercoaster. He's been through dozens of radiation treatments, and is currently on his third line chemo. Knowing he has this terrible disease, and not being able to help, other than by caring and caregiving, sometimes donating and helping organizations such as the American Cancer Society or the Komen Foundation is all we family members have to feel like we're helping to make a difference--like we're fighting back with or for our loved one. Maybe these organizations do promote advanced screenings, and maybe those screenings aren't as helpful as they say they are, but that's not ALL they do with their money. These organizations do a lot of good, and offer a lot of programs and support for cancer patients, not to mention a wealth of information.

    If you believe these organizations are misguiding our efforts, then tell us who to donate to instead. Give us something else to do. And I don't mean, "eat right, exercise, and be holistic". We hate this disease, we hate what it does to our loved ones. We want to fight back somehow. Yes, I do believe that being more holistic probably is the right approach to preventing all sorts of cancer. But that doesn't help us now. That doesn't help our loved ones who already HAVE the advanced stage cancer.

    I'm not saying you're right, or you're wrong. You are entitled, just as everyone else is, to your own opinion. I just wish you'd take into consideration everything else those organizations do, and the people who may be reading your posts.

  • At August 14, 2012 at 12:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dr Brownstein books go deep into why we are sick. I read "Salt Your way to health" - why minerals are so importany and "Iodine, why we need it, why we cant live with out it" -talks about toxic chrmicals have entered the food, water, air supply and electronics. In 2008 my search began to heal my body. Once I was tested correctly,and discoved heavy metal toxicity, fibermialga, food allergy,hypo-thyroid .....and so much more. I change my toxic mastress, started juicing,any product with cemicals in it, air puifer in the home, free of gluten, wheat, sugar, soy, corn,local meat only, than vegan, infred saunals, removal of all "silver" fillings, grounding, yoga, breathing, leting go of toxic people and memories,positive thinking.... my wornderful grand mother is dieing of stage for lung cancer- I wish she would have been open to the was the hardest thing I have ever done - I am alive and feel better than ever! It has been worth ever blood sweat and tear! My mother.and aunt have heart problems and diabeties...even more reason to live this way! To our health

  • At August 30, 2012 at 7:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dr. Brownstein,

    I hear what you are saying about cancer research, but as the daughter of someone with a blood cancer, I am very thankful for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for promoting research of drugs that have helped extend my mother's life with side effects have been more tolerable than in decades past.

    I am also a physician, and I practice holistic medicine. I definitely agree that we should be promoting HEALTH and wellness through diet, nutrition, and clean living for our patients, but for people who have a diagnosis of cancer, some of the medications in the pipeline, supported by big pharma and cancer foundations, have prolonged life, allowed families to spend more precious moments together, and have given people hope.

    And isn't holistic medicine about meeting patients where they are at and empowering them to find healing in any stage? Whether conventional or complementary?

    You have a lot of influence as a well known integrative physician, and I understand your sentiment, but I would urge you to think about the impact of your words for the many people who read your blog and already have a diagnosis of cancer or have a loved one with cancer.


  • At September 1, 2012 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Dr. David Brownstein said...

    You are also correct. Luckily, for your mother, she had a cancer (lymphoma/leukemia) that does respond favorably to conventional approaches. Perhaps I was a little to harsh with my post. I am frustrated with the conventional approach to breast cancer and prostate cancer. I still feel the American Cancer Society spends too much money on diagnostic and therapeutic techniques that have not been shown to prolong life. We would all be better off if their approach was to find the underlying cause(s) of cancer. Then we could make the appropriate changes necessary to prevent getting cancer in the first place.


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