Top insider slams the cancer industry
A top medical doctor stood up and said conventional cancer doctors regularly lie about success rates, and the system is designed to steer patients toward the most expensive treatment possible.
This wasn't just any doctor. It was Otis Brawley, head of the American Cancer Society — the very heart of the cancer treatment establishment. He said unproven cancer treatments are in widespread use across the U.S. And he wasn't' talking about natural or alternative treatments. He was referring to things like PSA exams and chemotherapy.
Dr. Brawley said it wasn't the system that was failing. Rather, "Failure is the system." Keep reading to hear more about his shocking speech...
Continued below. . .
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You already know this if you're a long-time Cancer Defeated reader. What's shocking is to hear it from a powerful establishment figure.
A little background on Otis Brawley
Dr. Brawley is far from being your run-of-the-mill doctor. He graduated medical school from the University of Chicago, trained in oncology at the National Cancer Institute, and has served as a professor at Emory University for years. Brawley is also the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society and has been since 2007.
Along with that, Brawley was chief of oncology and hematology at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Though no longer chief, he still practices at Grady, known as the largest hospital in the U.S. It's also where poor and uninsured people from across Atlanta come when they have nowhere else to go.
Brawley's verbal attack of the medical system took place at a recent Association of Health Care Journalists meeting in Atlanta. He gave a speech that slammed the entire system of healthcare — and everybody involved, from doctors to insurers to drug companies, then lawyers, and even patients.
He highlighted money as a driving force behind the incompetence. He said greed and gluttony steer irrational patient demands. Doctors promise too much, and patients don't accept that the cycle of life includes death.
He said doctors have lost sight of saving lives. They're driven by revenue. Their procedures and recommendations are based on bottom lines.
Brawley also said doctors get caught up in what they believe and confuse their opinions with hard science. Take prostate cancer screening. It's been recommended since 1990, yet not once did a study prove screening saves lives. What it does instead is create a nice revenue stream for medical businesses. (As a side note, Otis Brawley has long been accused of an "irrational vendetta" against PSA tests.)
One stirring line in his speech was: "We need people who consume medicine to think about health care the same way they think about buying a television set at a Best Buy." His point was consumers need to be educated — skeptical, and educated. And doctors need to be reimbursed for education, not intervention.
On the right track ... but let's do even better
Brawley has a new book out: How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (St. Martin's Press). In it, he talks about irresponsible doctors. He accuses medical professionals of prescribing inappropriate treatment — which includes chemo. And he takes on the ongoing catastrophe that is U.S. healthcare.
His message comes down to wanting to transform the way we think of healthcare. He trumpets the idea of prevention and cutting costs. He's quick to point out that despite having the most expensive healthcare, the U.S. only ranks 50th in life expectancy, and our infant mortality rate is alarmingly high.
He says we have more CT and MRI scanners than most other civilized countries, which does us little good — "People in the United States may not live longer than people in Canada, but we sure as hell do a better job taking pictures of them. We do not get what we pay for out of our healthcare system."
I'll give him credit. Brawley isn't sitting on the sidelines in the healthcare debate. He still sees patients and knows firsthand about folks who can't get healthcare for one reason or another.
But his platform is reimbursement. Brawley says doctors need to be paid for teaching patients to lead healthy lives and not paid per procedure or diagnostic. He wants more hospitals to have gyms. He says we should provide patients with more education about nutrition and cooking.
All good goals, certainly. But we live in a culture of proof — Brawley himself underscores the importance of scientific evidence. That's why I'd rather see him pushing for more research in natural treatments — treatments we know heal cancer, but which the medical industry won't accept until they see the words "proven in a double-blind study."
He recognizes the importance of eating right and exercising, but on the whole he's not a fan of alternative treatments. His revolt against the establishment doesn't go quite that far. Dr. Brawley has led the American Cancer Society for five years, and there's been no move in the organization toward inexpensive, unpatentable treatments.
Still, it's refreshing that a physician in power is not urging doctors to be more aggressive when it comes to ordering tests and pushing cut-burn-poison treatments.
Who knows, maybe the best is yet to come from Otis Brawley. I like the fact he's trying to put patient care and decisions in the spotlight. The more people realize they're the ones in charge of their health, the less we'll have to rely on doctors for making important decisions that affect us for the rest of our lives. Imagine -- a world where doctors are advisors instead of dictators… that's a reality I'll look forward to.
Meanwhile, if you don't want to get cancer, one of the things you need to do is get rid of the nonstick pots and pans in your kitchen. The coating, which almost everyone calls Teflon, kills birds and may be killing you as well. If you missed this important news, scroll down and catch up with it now.
Teflon Update: It's Worse than We Thought
Two years ago, I wrote to let you know the fumes from Teflon, given off when a pan is heated, were killing people's pet birds (that was Issue #49, if you want the details). As far as I'm concerned, if it causes a parakeet to keel over, I don't want it in my life.
Now there's more news about this bird-killing toxin that's undoubtedly in your home — and in your bloodstream, too. It's in the bloodstream of almost every single one of us.
PFOA is the ingredient used in Teflon that causes the problems. I'm afraid new findings have surfaced to support the health hazards of this modern-day "convenience."
You've got to watch this
I recently came across what I believe is the most promising cancer advancement of the past 30 years.
A neurochemist developed it over the course of 20 years. Already several major studies (on over 10,000 patients combined) have verified its accuracy. The FDA has even approved it.
But, strangely, this cancer discovery has been kept almost completely quiet. (The reason why made me furious -- I bet you'll feel the same way.)
I just finished creating this special video alert… It's got everything you need to know about this medical development.
You've got to watch it now...
Chemicals of "convenience" are literally everywhere
Let's recap before I hit you with the latest unsettling revelations. Teflon itself was an "accidental" invention by a chemist in 1938. The fellow was trying to make a refrigerant and instead came up with the non-reactive, low-friction substance known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) — what we know as Teflon.
Since then, PTFE has been employed as a coating on pots, pans, wiper blades, curling irons, stain-resistant carpets, and even microwave popcorn bags — just to name a few chemical-laced modern-day conveniences.
The chemical PFOA is a key ingredient in Teflon (PTFE). PFOA, or perfluororctanoic acid (and also known as C8), is a carcinogen, is toxic to animals, and persists in the environment indefinitely.
At least 99% of the general population in the U.S. have traces of PFOA in their bloodstream (up from 95% a few years ago). Folks who work in chemical plants or live near chemical plants probably have much higher levels than everybody else.
We knew this was coming
We've known for a while that Teflon was a likely health offender. The fact that Teflon fumes kill birds was our first clue. For instance,
- When a Teflon-lined oven was used to bake biscuits at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, an owner reported the death of his parrots.
- When four stovetop burners lined with Teflon drip pans were preheated for a meal, 14 birds died within15 minutes.
- And when Teflon-coated heat lamp bulbs were installed in chicken pens, half of the chicken population passed away within a few days.
Our next clue was the health concerns voiced by workers at the DuPont Washington Works plant in the Mid-Ohio Valley. DuPont paid out a $300 million settlement in response to a class action lawsuit from plant workers and those who live near the plant in Ohio and West Virginia, all alleging DuPont contaminated their drinking water with PFOA.
If a corporation settles a lawsuit one always suspects they were in the wrong, but you can't be sure. There wasn't a proven link between cancer and PFOA ... until now.
No such thing as an "acceptable" toxic level
Because of the allegations in that West Virginia and Ohio region, a panel of public health scientists have been monitoring the long-term health of the community through epidemiologic and other data. The panel was approved by DuPont as part of the class action lawsuit over PFOA.
The evidence they've found is chilling. The low-but-constant levels of PFOA consumed by residents in their drinking water have upped the rates of kidney and testicular cancer. For kidney cancer, risk is up by a shocking 170 percent. Thyroid cancer may also be affected by PFOA.
That same panel of independent scientists found another hair-raising health link last year. Their findings showed a link between PFOA and preeclampsia (a condition during pregnancy that can have catastrophic consequences for both the mother and the fetus). And they recently found a link between PFOA and both thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.
Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, said "Widespread pollution by PFOA should be a wake-up call that our chemical regulation system is severely broken." She added, "It is particularly urgent for the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a legal limit for drinking water pollution by PFOA, which is currently unregulated and never should have come to market."
I agree that this is a wake-up call. But I think the only acceptable "legal limit" is zero.
A global phase-out is our best bet for future health safety
Right now, there's a voluntary pact between eight major U.S. companies, including DuPont, to "virtually" eliminate the use of PFOA by 2015. The pact was put together by the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to drastically reduce the shocking extent to which PFOA shows up everywhere (pizza boxes are another offender).
According to DuPont's spokeswoman, Janet E. Smith, "DuPont has commercialized new alternatives that are made with short chain chemistry that cannot break down into PFOA."
On the flip side, Leann Brown, press secretary for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), points out "Had DuPont done sufficient human safety testing before bringing this product into commerce, they would have found this chemical was unfit for commercial production and use."
The American Cancer Society points out there is very little data about the ability of PFOA to cause cancer, but also states the major U.S. health agencies have not formally evaluated PFOA and its connection to cancer. And keep in mind, DuPont isn't the only offender that's been using this chemical, though it's the only current American maker of PFOA. Loads of companies overseas continue to produce and use it.
There may not be any formal study results, but all signs point in that direction. If you ask me, it's not worth waiting around for a bureaucratic process to tell us what we already know. Although sadly, this doesn't help the fact that it's probably already in your bloodstream. PFOA has even been found in the blood of marine life and Arctic polar bears.
All you can really do at this point is make an effort to avoid the stuff as much as possible. This means staying away from Teflon-coated cookware, or anything that's heat-resistant or non-stick. Clothes are also possible offenders, so avoid buying anything labeled wrinkle-free, stain-resistant, or waterproof.
If you have a hankering for popcorn, here's good news: You can pop ordinary kernels in your microwave in a simple, chemical-free, brown paper bag. In the meantime, I'll be watching for updates from DuPont as it phases out the chemical. And I'll be hoping someday for a global phase-out.
References from 1st article:
"Doctor exposes the dangers of overtreatment." By Liz Szabo, USA Today.
"Dr. Otis Brawley Says Health Care Talk in U.S. Lacks 'Human Element.'" by Gergana Koleve, Pharma & Healthcare. Forbes.
"Dr. Otis Brawley: 'The System Really Is Not Failing ... Failure Is The System.'" By KHN Staff.
"How Doctors and Patients Do Harm." By Tara Parker-Pope, Health & Science. The New York Times.
Otis Webb Brawley, MD, Chief Medical Officer. Executive Biography, American Cancer Society.
"The Chief Complaint: Dr. Otis Brawley." Features. Atlanta. February 1, 2012.
References from 2nd article:
C8 Science Panel, Homepage.
"Chemical in Food Packaging, Fabric Coatings Linked to Cancer." Environmental Working Group News Release. April 16, 2012.
"Common chemical PFOA linked to cancer." by Dr. Mark Stengler, Health Revelations.
"Harmful Teflon Chemical To Be Eliminated by 2015." By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post.
"Link between food packaging and cancer." By Aneka Chohan, The Lahore Times. May 17, 2012.
Perfluorooctanoic acid. Wikipedia.
"'Probable link' between packaging coating and cancer, say scientists." By Joe Whitworth, FoodProductionDail.com.
"Probably Link Evaluation of Cancer." C8 Probable Link Report.
Shankar, Anoop; Jie Xiao and Alan Ducatman (2011 Oct 15). "Perfluoroalkyl Chemicals and Chronic Kidney Disease in US Adults".
American Journal of Epidemiology 174 (8): 893-900. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr171. PMID 2187360. Retrieved 2012-6-10.
"Teflon and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)." American Cancer Society.
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