As I See It
UNITED STATES—Hooray for Breast Cancer Action! They recently did what no other cancer organization has done to date. It was so simple, really, but apparently it was just too controversial for such revered organizations as the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Breast Cancer Coalition and countless other groups who you would think would be espousing certain precautions to protect the public’s health.
So what did they do? Well, they actually went out on a limb and gave us a recommendation regarding cancer prevention that was based on common sense instead of political correctness.
Paraphrasing from Katrina Kahl’s column in the BCA Source, she cited a study in the November 2006 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. It found a trend between increased red meat consumption and increased risk of hormone-fueled breast cancers. You may have read of this correlation in the papers recently, but news items referring to this pointed the finger at all red meat being the culprit rather than just the hormone-injected meat.
It seems mighty odd that no news sources mentioned those hormones, especially since the researchers themselves noted the potential correlation between eating hormone-injected meat with hormone-fueled breast cancers.
As Kahl notes, this very possible correlation prompted the European Union to ban the use of hormones to raise livestock as far back as 1988. Do you question why the United States has failed to ban hormones in our food supply? Do you think it might be because the added hormones, which have no nutritional benefit for consumers, nevertheless reap huge financial benefits for producers? A discerning person might conclude that our government is more concerned about the fiscal health of our meat and dairy suppliers than they are about the health of we poor suckers at the supermarket.
Since our country enforces no ban on this highly suspect cause of cancers, wouldn’t you at least think that those whose business it is to eradicate this insidious disease would at least step forward and advise unwary consumers to avoid hormone-laden meat and dairy products? I have contacted several organizations, and in a "The Stepford Wives" drone, their representatives spew out their boiler plate response that studies are ongoing but are still inconclusive.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating—this excuse is mocked by Europeans who call our delaying strategy "paralysis by analysis." But it’s not really funny because people are dying while our government refuses to do the right thing by taking preventative action now. There is nothing wrong with studies, but they should be done in conjunction with precautionary measures, not before.
Which is exactly why I am cheering for Breast Cancer Action. As the article says, BCA supports the precautionary principle, which would caution against waiting for absolute proof of harm before discontinuing the use of hormones in food production. And they actually have a plan that all of us can immediately implement, starting with our next meal. Their simple advice is to choose hormone-free meat and dairy products. Look for meat with a "USDA-certified organic" or "hormone free" labels. For dairy products, look for organic, "rBST-free or "rBGH-free" labels.
We have no idea how many cancers we could be preventing in our households by following their recommendation, but if you are skeptical about this low-tech idea for reducing the numbers of new cancers, consider this: With one simple pronouncement several years ago advising women to stop taking the hormone replacement Prem Pro, new breast cancers posted a significant decline in the following years. What if we should also see a further decline if we stop ingesting hormones in our food supply?
Maybe then we could better understand not only the limitations of science to come up with a cure, but the possibility of enlightened consumers to come up with something even better.
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