Race for the Cause, Not Just the Cure

It's heartening to see 29,000 people showed up for the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" on Saturday April 20, in Indianapolis, showing they care about the breast cancer epidemic. More women have died of breast cancer over the past 20 years than all the Americans killed in WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. In the 1940s, the lifetime risk for breast cancer was 1 in 22. Today it is 1 in 8 and this number is growing significantly. This year more than 192,000 women in America will be told they have breast cancer. The number of new cases increases every year. It's becoming so common it's like a "rite of passage" for womanhood. Early detection and treatment are important to save lives, but what about prevention? What about a "Race for the Cause"?

Billions of dollars are spent every year on cancer research ˜ but the vast majority of that research is on drug development, not on prevention. Pills touted to "prevent" cancer can at best lower the risk of developing the disease &emdash; but they often increase the risk of other health problems. True cancer prevention requires understanding and eliminating the environmental causes of the disease. In their1990 cancer prevention booklet, Everything Doesn't Cause Cancer, the National Cancer Institute says, "Many cancers could be prevented by reducing our exposure to carcinogens ... there is no safe level of exposure for any carcinogen." An estimated 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered for use today in the US. Plastics, pesticides, refrigerants, insulators, dyes, detergents, degreasers, deodorants ... with only about 7% of them tested for their potential carcinogenicity (ability to cause cancer), and more than 90% have never been tested for their effects on human health. Our government currently regulates fewer than 200 of these chemicals. Everyone reading this has 200 to 500 synthetic chemicals in their body that weren't in anyone's body before the 1920s. This definitely bears looking into.

Cumulative exposure to hormones is a known risk factor for breast cancer. One class of especially dangerous chemicals, chlorinated organic compounds (organochlorines), acts as hormone disrupters that interfere with or mimic natural hormones. There is strong evidence linking some of these chemicals (xenoestrogens) to breast cancer. Organochlorines exist in some 11,000 commercial products &emdash; pesticides, fuels, plastics, and detergents &emdash; and are present in human blood at levels 40 to 250 times the levels of natural hormones! In fact the International Joint Commission of the Great Lakes has called for a complete phasing out of production and use of organochlorines. There are safer, non-polluting products available. Unfortunately, the US and Canadian governments have ignored the warnings. Why is this? How many years and how many lives will it take to convince them? Are they too beholden to the hazardous chemical industry for their campaign contributions?

This is a human rights issue. We as women need to learn all we can and get involved. Breast Cancer Action (BCA) and other grassroots cancer activist, health, environmental, and social justice organizations throughout the US, Canada and other nations are joining together to work for real prevention. We can clean up our own environment, use toxic-free products and eat certified organic foods. We can question the cancer establishment and its priorities. We can lobby for strong environmental laws and clean election reform. Instead of accepting it as somehow unavoidable, we can reverse this cancer epidemic.

Facts from this letter came from www.stopcancer.org; www.bcaction.org; Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber; The Breast Cancer Prevention Program by Samuel S. Epstein MD and David Steinman; Rachel's Environmental & Health Weekly; and www.breastcancerfund.org

Stefanie Miller
Indianapolis, Ind
Email jackandstef@earthlink.net

Ponzi Economy

The article by Wayne O'Leary, "Real Populists Don't Play the Market" [5/15/02 TPP], articulated the misgivings I feel whenever I hear about the booming economy. It seems that the economy is officially booming as long as enough (of the right kind of) people are making enough money on speculations and fiddling with money so that the average income is growing. It reminds me of an excellent book I read years ago, How to Lie with Statistics [Darrell Huff, 1954]. "We have a mighty fine average income."

The economy seems like a Ponzi scheme combined with a hostage situation. The prosperity of important investors, by whose growing wealth we gauge the health of the economy, depends on unending growth of corporate bottom lines. The livelihoods of working people, i.e. their jobs, also depend on satisfactory corporate bottom lines. The desires of those farther up the food chain must be satiated before excess wealth is allowed to "trickle down" to those whose labor produces their wealth. (Feeding the sparrows through the horses, as somebody put it.) But the desire for increasing profits through any available avenue of costcutting is insatiable, as it must be according to the popular economic model. So working people are obliged to accept sacrifices to remain globally competitive (and retain their livelihoods) because corporations can always threaten to relocate and exploit misery elsewhere.


Dean Rao.
Akron, Colo.

Election Rehash

Regarding reader Richard Dupuis' sniping about people who voted for Ralph Nader [Letters, 4/15/02 TPP], I would remind him of some relevant points about the election:

1. Al Gore received more popular votes than Bush.

2. The Supreme Court exercised extra-constitutional powers (arguably criminal in intent and extent) in ending the recounts in Florida, thereby handing Bush the White House.

3. Even if the recounts had given Florida to Bush (which no legit recount did), Vice President Al Gore's pathetic campaign strategy was typified by his losing his home state of Tennessee, and his incumbent two-term President's home state of Arkansas. Ditto his flaccid response to the theft of Florida.

4. More than 20% of registered Democrats who voted, cast their votes for Bush.

5. The Electoral College system, if intelligently used, offers a pretty "safe" way of voting for a Third Party candidate. For example, in my heavily Democratic home state of New York, Al Gore won the Electoral Vote by such a huge majority that, literally, millions of New Yorkers could have voted for Nader and not given Bush any help whatsoever. I'm sure that Mr. Dupuis' Vermont could have also safely absorbed a lot more Nader votes than ignorant fear allowed.

Mr. Dupuis, I voted for Nader and, thank you very much, I will complain about the Bush administration as loudly as I please.

Paul Osenbaugh
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Support Reform

In 4/15/02 TPP, a letter to the editor entitled "Nader Voters: Don't Complain" implied that Nader voters in the 2000 election were non-thinkers and responsible for the ultimate Bush victory. It is well to remember that the Democrat and GOPs have a common determination to lock out any and all other political entities from garnering sufficient popularity that might result in their gaining participation in the presidential debates.

I find it totally dishonest that by the writer's logic, I should vote for the second worst candidate to reduce the possibility that the worst may be elected.

If the writer is a true progressive, he ought to be supporting a movement to bring about the fair proportional method of deciding elections rather than bemoaning the freakish result settled by an imperfect Supreme Court. If proportional voting had been in place for that election, the writer's Democrat would surely have been elected, but to believe that our nation would then be in better hands is pure speculation.

It is inconceivable but a horrific contemplation that there can ever again be presented two more inadequate candidates from the two major political parties than their choices in the 2000 election. In comparison, Mr Nader, stood head and shoulders above those two in character, proven abilities and practical accomplishments.

There is a continuing need for a strong third party and the Greens most closely stand for policies that I deem right for America. At the next presidential election and God willing, I will again go to the polls after studying the candidates' credentials. I will cast my vote for the one I feel is best qualified on the basis of her or his overall history in leadership and performance. I will feel no guilt should that vote be interpreted by others as being dumb, wasted and the cause of a stolen election.

Vic Wickstead,
Ormond Beach Fla.

Don't Split the Vote

The event of Sept. 11 has given our president all the ammunition he needs to ignore the real needs of this country and rob Social Security.

The third-party crowd that dwells in part of your paper elected a president who belongs to the party that cashes in to the philosophy of the big money interests that control TV, radio and that part of the press that sells the public to vote Republican.

The cost of selling this to the public is provided by a small group of big companies and millionaires who were scheduled to be reimbursed as the first order of business by Bush.

We are away behind the other democratic countries in this world in taking care of the needs of the average citizen by splitting the vote of the party which gave us Social Security and other liberal programs which were opposed by Republicans.


Harry Rosenfeld
Tucson, Ariz.

Don't Sell Social Security Short

Nicholas von Hoffman made many important points in "The Coming Collapse of American Retirement" [5/1/02 TPP]. Social Security, however, will likely stay strong much longer than he predicted. The Social Security Trustees predicted in 2002 that Social Security will fully meet its financial obligations until 2041.

This prediction is probably too pessimistic, since it assumes yearly economic growth rates of only 1.6% to 1.9% from 2015 to 2080 &emdash; lower growth rates than for any decade since the Great Depression.

Even the trustees' short-range predictions of economic growth have often been far too pessimistic. In six such predictions they made for 1997-99 in those same years, economic growth exceeded their predictions by an average of 83%! If their predictions are that much off in the short term, why should their long-term pessimism be believed?

But the trustees also make other, more optimistic, "low cost" predictions for Social Security. In these predictions, Social Security remains financially strong for at least the next 75 years.

Michael Brennan
Chicago Ill.
Email: MEBkeep@webtv.net

Probe 9/11

Thank you for finally printing something exposing the Bush administration's ulterior motives in Afghanistan (Ted Rall's piece in your 5/1/02 issue), and the likelihood of continuing ties between the US intelligence community and the Islamists (Charles Robinson's "Connecting the Dots" letter).

Now how about something on the government's non-response to the emergency on Sept. 11, which involved clear violation of FAA rules and procedures, the absence of any investigation or reprimands relating to this, and the administration's efforts to suppress all investigation of what really happened?

You want to back progressive Democrats? Okay, stand up now for [US Rep.] Cynthia McKinney! This courageous woman is being pilloried for demanding an investigation that would be routine if our government were honest.

Mark Ortiz
Kannapolis, N.C.
Email markortiz@vnet.net

Sins of the Fathers

M.W. Guzy tells us that the present tragic situation in the Catholic Church involves mostly "priests seeking homosexual liaison with adolescent boys" ["Sins of the Fathers," 5/1/02 TPP]. Unfortunately, statements like this only add to the confusion rather than pointing the way to a solution. Psychologists who understand human development keep trying to explain that pedophilia and homosexuality are by no means the same. Another round of gay-bashing is not only unfair; more importantly, it distracts attention from understanding which could be constructive.

As a non-Catholic (in fact, non-believer, and non-homosexual) I am surprised at the interpretation that Cardinal Law was simply covering up the problem. The Lord's Prayer itself asks for forgiveness "as we forgive others." I give Law credit for trying to act with Christian charity. But, not unlike many other white males down through the years, he has not been interested in the psychological impact of child abuse (or other practices) on the community. When it comes to responding to a psychological problem, he is as much at sea as I would be if attempting to repair my car engine. But one thing is clear: punishing my car for its "crimes" is not going to get it going again. It is the continuing search for understanding and self-knowledge which makes wise and virtuous behavior possible.

Nancy Rader
Acton, Mass.

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