Last week we saw firsthand how political gamesmanship can jeopardize women’s health. Read my essay in the New York Times on why we need to go beyond a cure and find the cause of breast cancer, so that we can learn to prevent it, here.

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6 Responses to Racing to Find the Cause

  1. Park says:

    Thank you for focusing on the cause, not the cure. As long as our medical-industrial complex focuses on it’s own self interests of fixing things after they are broken, we won’t fix the real problem- prevention.

  2. Kate says:

    Nice piece. Now, how can we be sure that research prevention organizations look as hard at all possible causes, including those industries that are their major donors?

  3. Real race is prevention of the current and unabated breast cancer epidemic, rather than search for cause or cure. The dispute between the two breast cancer ‘advocate’ organizations, S.G.Komen for Cure and the PPF, seem to indicate that time may have come for reassessment of the futile breast cancer care, in favor of primary prevention of breast cancer as an excess epidemic disease.

    The utter absence of any idea or implementation of primary prevention of the breast cancer epidemic is explained by the adagio that “we still do not know” the causes of breast cancer. Yet, other approaches are being advocated “to decreasing deaths” only of breast cancer by screening.

    Besides incorrectly equating the term ‘prevention care’ with the ‘downstream’ clinical activity of mammographic screening for early breast cancer detection, the causes of the unprecedented in human history of breast cancer epidemic as an epidemic disease have been always circumvented, overlooked and ignored. The definition of the ‘British Parliament Select Committee on the Health of Towns’ (London), declared in 1840 that “Primary prevention is about eliminating the causes of a disease before it can affect people. It is historically based on common sense and recognition the proven or suspected cause and effect of diseases…” The removal of the handle of the suspected water pomp dramatically eliminated the disease, and opened the doors for further preventive activities against the “miasma”. The issue was the unknown cause of the Cholera epidemics in the mid-19 Century, 30 years before the Vibrio Cholerae was discovered in Germany. The removal of the vehicle as an indirect causal factor proved to be still a causal factor in primary prevention.

    The objective of the primary prevention of the breast cancer epidemic is eliminating (‘eradicating’) breast cancer to a level of rare, sporadic disease, rather than ‘decreasing deaths,’ of the disease as indicated in the article. The “Army of Women” (currently around 360,000, and aiming perhaps up to a million of women, with and without breast cancer), would hardly discover any cause, most likely as it was defined more than 30 years ago, if it is not included in the investigations. The unknown (indirect) cause of breast cancer, along with other accompanying gynecological tumors, could hardly be rediscovered, if ignored again, no matter how robust the cause(s) might be.

    Screening for early detection of breast is not prevention. Some American courts have suggested that the environmental protection agencies take the liberty “to use theories, models and estimates to prevent harm” from diseases in the War on Cancer 1970.

    A previous new approach to research of breast cancer etiology and potential of primary prevention is presented in the following recent edition:

    ♦ “AIDS Changed America with the Twin Breast Cancer Epidemic: Exploring the Consequences of Condomization” (Ch. 22). Editor: Nancy Dumais, InTech, Vienna, Austria, Oct. 2011.

    Arne N. Gjorgov, M.D., Ph.D. (UNC-SPH, Epidemiology, Chapel Hill, NC)
    Author of ♦ “Barrier Contraception and Breast Cancer,” 1980: x+164

  4. Jonathan says:

    I like the new points made in Dr. Love’s latest BREAST BOOK about how the age of diagnosis may mean more than one cause. And, to piggyback off of this, this may also explain the murky value of mammography in women in their 40s. I saw one study (can’t remember where or by whom) in which doctors noted a real change in breast tumor characteristics starting at age 45. After 45, women are moving into perimenopause and this doctor pointed out that ER+ breast cancers start to become commoner at this point. To be exact, he stated that the breast cancers in women 40-44 were similar to those 39 and younger: they were likely to be aggressive and hormone- negative and that mammography may not be of much value in detecting these aggressive cancers early.

    As for the different causes, as Dr. Love pointed out, in older women, they seem to have incurred the “damage” caused by lifetime exposure to excess estrogen, whereas a very young woman with the disease simply hasn’t lived long enough for delayed childbearing or late menopause or whatever to even be relevant in her case. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if a virus of some kind were the culprit, at least in these younger cases that don’t have the classical risk factors.

  5. Olga says:

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I just turned 46. It was a regular mammogram – and I didn’t have prior history of any kind. With the tumor size of 1.3 cm and micromets in a lymph node I know that this mammogram saved my life – it was found when there is still good chances for survival. And I am not the only one whose life was saved due to the mammogram…

  6. Jacky says:

    Thank you for bringing this important issue to light. So much money is being given to the same groups that profit so much from breast cancer. The cycle needs to be broken. I am so irritated to see yogurt cups with the “Komen pink ribbons” on the outside and yet their ingrediants list “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. When are women going to wake-up and demand prevention first!

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