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Is the American Cancer Society More About Cancer Profit or Cancer Prevention?

This News Target article probes the connections between the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the medical industry in order to examine why the ACS focuses more on the expensive techniques of screening, diagnosis and treatment than on prevention.

Connection Admitted

The ACS does not deny their connection with industry. Said ACS doctor Michael Thun, "The American Cancer Society views relationships with corporations as a source of revenue for cancer prevention. That can be construed as an inherent conflict of interest, or it can be  viewed as a pragmatic way to get funding to support cancer control." The ACS board was created in order to solicit corporate contributions, and several board members are CEOs or presidents of biotechnology companies.

Many board members, in fact, stand to make much more money from treating cancer than from preventing it. It has also been argued that their ties to polluting industries has led the industry to willfully suppress information about the environmental causes of cancer.

Alternative Therapies Blacklisted

Many alternative health doctors and providers have complained about the ACS' controversial "Committee on Unproven Methods of Cancer Management." This Committee reviews "unorthodox" or "alternative" therapies, and puts most of these treatments on the "Unproven Methods" list. This list has caused doctors with successful methods to be refused research money and raided by the FDA.

Most of the treatments on the "Unproven Methods" list have never been shown to be ineffective or dangerous. More than 100 promising therapies have been discredited by the ACS in this way, including:

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor (originally called Coleys' Toxin)
  • Hydrazine sulfate
  • Laetrile
  • Gersons therapy
  • Antineoplastons

It is interesting to note that the techniques on the list are generally unpatented or unpatentable.

The American Cancer Society claims it is, among other things, "Dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer." However, the ACS' corporate entanglements may be preventing them from achieving that very goal.


  • News Target July 31, 2005