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Breast Cancer Awareness Month abused by Mike Adams

I should have guessed.

Leave it to uber-crank (a. k. a. One Crank To Rule Them All) Mike Adams, the “intellect” behind what is perhaps the crankiest website known to humankind (at least when it comes to medicine),, to try to slime Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As fellow ScienceBlogger Mark points out, in his “report” Breast Cancer Deception, Adams accomplishes this by characterizing Breast Cancer Awareness month as nothing more than part of a conspiracy by the “male-dominated” cancer industry to keep women down.

I have to admit, in the realm of sheer wingnuttery, I’ve seldom seen its equal:

Throughout human history, spanning virtually every culture and continent, women have been systematically denied the right to access information that could educate and empower them. Keeping women ignorant was a way for men to control them and treat them as personal property. From ancient Rome to 19th century America, women were considered sub-class citizens and intentionally denied the right to learn information that might give them more control over their own lives.

In this report, you’ll learn how the cancer industry — which is dominated by powerful men — uses the same tactics today to control women while pretending to serve them. You’ll learn truly shocking information about how the cancer industry exploits women’s bodies to generate profits for pharmaceutical companies while systematically denying those same women access to information that could teach them how to avoid breast cancer (and other cancers) in the first place. A single nutrient, for example, has been shown to prevent 77 percent of all cancers, and yet the cancer industry — including top cancer non-profits — refuse to recommend this nutrient.

I fear I may have lost neurons reading this article, and if I’m going to lose neurons I’d at least like it to be doing something pleasurable, such as having a good pint or two of some fine ale, rather than subjecting myself to this. The things I do in the name of my field of expertise!

After making a big display of pointing out that his article was “not funded by pharmaceutical companies” (ya think?), something that should be quite obvious unless pharmaceutical companies are funding him as an agent provacateur designed to discredit alternative medicine by posting such outlandish screeds far and wide, Adams starts out breathlessly with an amazing claim:

Realize that every system of medicine has a treatment for breast cancer. In the Amazon rainforest, such treatments might include the Una de Gato herb (also known in Western herbalism as “Cat’s Claw” and widely used as a potent anti-cancer medicine). In the regions we now know as the American Southwest and Mexico, treatments for cancer utilize tea made from Chaparral bush leaves (also known in modern times as the “creosote” bush, from which leaf oils were extracted in order to coat railroad ties). In Chinese Medicine, cancer was approached from a different point of view: the Five Element System, rather than the traditional allopathic paradigm of the West; treatment protocols might include a “recipe” of various medicinal herbs with a synergistic effect that work to strengthen and support the body’s innate anti-cancer protection mechanisms.

In other words, if you were to travel the world in search of treatments or cures for breast cancer, you would find hundreds, if not thousands, of such treatments spanning diverse cultures, geographies and medical paradigms. And these treatments really work: modern scientists are increasingly discovering that these native cancer remedies contain identifiable anti-cancer compounds that work in a myriad of ways. They might cut off the blood supply to cancer tumors, promote cancer cell apoptosis (cell death), block the replication of cancer cells, boost immune system function and so on.

The passage above is breathtaking in its ignorance and stupidity. What an astounding claim! Can it really be that there are thousands of effective “natural” treatments that all these natives have come up? Can it be that they all really work, as Mike Adams claims? (And he accuses “conventional medicine” of arrogance!) Adams seems to think that the mere existence of these herbal or folk remedies implies validity. Of course, the difference between scientific medicine and folk medicine such as what Adams describes is that objective evidence of efficacy is is required before it will accept a treatment as being effective and add it to its armamentarium. The anecdotal claims of healers are not enough. Besides, if all of these natural cures were so great, then the disparity in breast cancer care wouldn’t be so huge between developed and developing nations, as I discussed yesterday.

Another way to look at Adams’ claim that reveals just how paranoid and deluded it is is to examine for a moment his distrust of scientists and physicians. Imagine, if you will, that we’re all motivated primarily by greed and arrogance. If that were the case, what’s the best way for one of us to achieve fame, glory, and become rich (or at least two of the three)? To discover the cure for cancer, or even a cure for a cancer that truly worked would instantly catapult a scientist into the top reaches of his specialty. Ego is powerful motivation that even those evil pharmaceutical companies can’t stop. In actuality, though, pharmaceutical companies themselves have been looking to herbs and natural medicines in various remote locales in search of new chemotherapeutic agents. Thus far, they’ve found no miraculous cures. That doesn’t mean that they might not someday, validating Adams’ ravings, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. Of course, the reason is that there is no such thing as “cancer” as a single disease. Cancer is a collection of diseases, with many different etiologies, characteristics, and degrees of aggressiveness. Trying to lump all cancers together as the monolithic entity of “cancer” is a fallacy that is common among cranks like Mike Adams.

All Adams’ rant really boils down to is the fallacy that if it’s “natural” (or at least not the product of a pharmaceutical company or modern medicine), it must be effective. It reminds me of another pernicious stereotype that was popular 250 years ago or so, that of the noble savage. This was a form of primitism that presented an idealized picture of “nature’s gentleman,” who, unsullied by the corruption of modern society, is more “authentic” and “noble” than the products of modern civilization. Adams’ idolization of “natural” and “native” treatments for cancer falls into the same sort of reality warp that has him looking at anything that he perceives as “natural” through rose-colored glasses. My only question is this: If these native cures are so good, why is it that people in developing nations are clamoring for scientific medicine that their governments don’t have available and can’t afford? In reality, continued reliance on “natural cures” in developing nations is more a function of culture and lack of access to better alternatives than to any advantages inherent in them. Of course, if all these “native” cures are so great, where are all these people who survived what would have been fatal cancers? Maybe big pharma is hiding them too. Certainly, Adams seems to think that big pharma is keeping these cures secret. Here’s perhaps his most hysterical claim of all:

Overall, the cancer industry, through its false authority and domineering posture, has not only discredited all systems of medicine other than its own, it has long succeeded in outlawing most competing systems, transforming experienced herbalists (who retain the knowledge of countless generations of native medicinal wisdom) into criminals. This is why all the cutting-edge cancer clinics in the world are located outside the United States. The practice of curing cancer — a common outcome in alternative cancer clinics — has been outlawed in the United States. It is actually illegal for a master herbalist, for example, to even attempt to cure a patient of cancer. Such an act could land them in federal prison.

Let me assure Mr. Adams that, if that herbalist actually succeeded in curing a patient of cancer–any cancer!–he would not be arrested; he would be lionized. He would be famous! If all of this stuff is so effective, too, it would be very easy to show. It wouldn’t even take a randomized clinical trial. All one of these herbalists would have to do is to cure a few patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, or gastric cancer, tumors that are presently not curable with the best that modern medicine has to offer. Besides, herbalism per se is not illegal. Indeed, it’s even regulated in some states that license naturopaths. It’s using treatments for which there is no evidence of efficacy and representing them as cures that’s illegal, which is as it should be. Quacks such as the ones championed by Adams should not be allowed to lie about their “cures” in order to attract the unwary.

If you want to get an idea of what Adams seems to consider one of these miraculous treatments that big pharma is suppressing, get a load of this:

In addition to its immunostimulating activity, in vitro anticancerous properties have been documented for these alkaloids and other constituents in cat’s claw. Five of the oxindole alkaloids have been clinically documented with in vitro antileukemic properties, and various root and bark extracts have demonstrated antitumorous and anticancerous properties. Italian researchers reported in a 2001 in vitro study that cat’s claw directly inhibited the growth of a human breast cancer cell line by 90%, while another research group reported that it inhibited the binding of estrogens in human breast cancer cells in vitro. Swedish researchers documented it inhibited the growth of lymphoma and leukemia cells in vitro in 1998. Early reports on Keplinger’s observatory trials with cancer patients taking cat’s claw in conjunction with such traditional cancer therapies as chemotherapy and radiation reported fewer side effects to the traditional therapies (such as hair loss, weight loss, nausea, secondary infections, and skin problems). Subsequent researchers have shown how these effects might be possible: they have reported that cat’s claw can aid in DNA cellular repair and prevent cells from mutating; it also can help prevent the loss of white blood cells and immune cell damage caused by many chemotherapy drugs (a common side effect called leukopenia).

This is one of these amazing “cures”? Some cell culture results coupled with a clinical trial that suggests cat’s claw might have some antinausea activity in patients undergoing chemotherapy? That’s it? This is one of these miraculous “native” cures? That’s the best evidence he can come up with for the efficacy of these “native” cancer cures?

The mind boggles.

What’s really funny is the “real story” behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

This strategy by the cancer industry effectively keeps women in a state of ignorance about cancer solutions that could actually cure them. It disempowers women, turning them into victims of treatments dictated to them by men who, as CEOs of the top cancer institutions and drug companies, profit handsomely from every round of chemotherapy, radiation or cancer surgery prescribed to a woman.

Because of all this, the symbol of the breast cancer industry in the United States — the pink ribbon — is not at all a symbol of compassion or caring. It is not a symbol of empowering women, or educating women about so-called “treatment options.” The pink ribbon is a symbol of male-dominated control over women. Turn the pink ribbon upside down, and it looks more like a noose. It is from this noose that innocent women everywhere hang themselves through ignorance, submitting to a treatment system that intentionally denies women access to a world of information that could help them prevent, treat and even cure breast cancer.


Wearing pink for breast cancer, or buying pink products, is a demonstration of your support for the enslavement of women by a highly-unethical industry that seeks to turn women’s bodies into profit centers. Wearing pink shouts, “I support the ignorance of women! I support Big Pharma! I support male-dominated corporate control over the health of women’s breasts!”

Buying pink products sends the same message. Whether it’s a can of soup, a pair of pink batteries or even a pink “vacation” (yes, they do exist), these products are jumping on the pink bandwagon for one reason only: consumers buy it. Painting any product pink results in a sales surge.

The marketing push for pink products is so strong now that many companies selling products that actually cause cancer have jumped on the pink bandwagon! It’s a practice called “pinkwashing,” and when you see things like toxic cosmetics and chemically-manufactured personal care products sporting the pink ribbons and pledging to support breast cancer research, you have to stop and ask yourself the obvious question: Don’t these products actually CAUSE breast cancer? Yes, many of them do.

That’s right, ladies. The Man is keeping you down! In fact, in keeping with Adams’ truly despicable metaphor of a noose, Adams even tells us that The Man’s enslaving black women, too! Heck, while he’s at it, he’s enslaving black men, too! And it’s all because vitamin D is the cure for all cancer. Confusing correlation with causation, Adams combines one study that is represented as preventing 77% of all cancer with vitamin D (I’m really going to have to look that one up and read it in detail, given how many cranks have glommed on to it), observations that African American women often have lower levels of vitamin D than is healthy, plus the observation that the highest cancer mortality rates among black women are in northern states, and concludes that it’s all because of vitamin D, whose healing and preventative benefits The Man is keeping from women, especially black women. Of course, one highly amusing aspect of this rant is that the chart presented shows mortality from cancer (not just breast cancer), yet Adams asks: “Notice how all the highest rates of breast cancer are in the Northern states?”

Dude, learn to read a chart! It’s cancer mortality, not breast cancer or breast cancer mortality!

Adams concludes:

If you thought the days of exploitation of black women were long gone in the United States, think again: The cancer industry has built a brand new system of slavery based on keeping women ignorant, then exploiting their bodies for profit.

It’s still slavery, it’s just a lot more sinister and covert than in the days of southern plantations. Back then, many black women were made to pick cotton in the fields to enrich the white plantation owners. Today, black woman are made to generate diseases that enrich the white drug company owners. It sounds insidious, and it is. But why use the threat of physical force when, by using pink ribbon campaigns and massive censorship efforts, the men in charge can convince women to enslave each other with symbols like pink ribbons?

The utter crassness of this ploy is sickening. But it’s OK, though, because Adams’ motivation is pure. Just ask him:

If you’re angered by reading this, join the club! I’m so outraged by it that I spent hours researching and writing this report, only to give it away absolutely free. I gain nothing from you reading this report, other than the wrath of the cancer industry and all their lawyers who will no doubt try to censor this report just as they’ve censored the truth about anti-cancer foods, herbs and sunlight (among other alternative treatments).

Mike should be reassured, as I doubt they’ll bother to “censor” him. Like me, they’re all too busy laughing at him–if they notice him at all. If this report is an example of what Adams can come up with when he does “hours” of research, I’d hate to see what his off-the-cuff writing looks like, particularly given the way he champions “sunlight therapy” and totally ignores the risk of melanoma and other skin cancer that come with too much sun exposure.

Actually, though, after I’m done laughing at Mike Adams’ blend of ignorance, tinfoil hat paranoia, conspiracy-mongering, and inflammatory race-baiting (which is particularly risible and despicable coming from what looks to be a comfortable, upper-class white male like Adams), I almost have to cry. His is a widely-read website. His paranoid ramblings may well be frightening some women away from medical interventions that are effective for breast cancer, such as early detection by mammography and treatment with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Even if it is true that some companies take advantage of Pink Ribbon campaigns in order to increase their bottom line, that would not justify the fear-mongering and misinformation that Adams is spreading, misinformation that could mean the difference between life and death, particularly his dismissive attitude towards mammography and statements that they are “worthless.” Breast cancer, when found early, is one of the most treatable of cancers, but once it metastasizes not even Mike Adams “native” miracle cures can stop it.

ADDENDUM: If you really want an idea of the paranoid world view of Mike Adams when it comes to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, check out this cartoon by him, for which Mike Adams was kind enough to provide convenient HTML code to use. Thanks, Mike!

How the Cancer Industry Controls Women (comic)

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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