Dr. Samuel Epstein is a well respected professional in cancer prevention. He is a professor emeritus of occupational and environment medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and is an expert on toxins. He is also the chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
Dr. Epstein has authored 270 scientific articles, and 15 books on the causes and prevention of cancer. These include the groundbreaking Politics of Cancer (1979), and most recently Toxic Beauty (2009) about carcinogens and other toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.
In this interview, Dr. Epstein discusses several pressing health dangers that receive little attention, including:
- Nanoparticles used in cosmetics
- rBGH milk
- The lack of prevention in the new Obama cancer plan
Dr. Epstein’s background makes him exceptionally well-qualified to discuss topics related to cancer prevention, and the toxicological causes of cancer that must be part of any effective cancer prevention plan.
In this interview he offers a vital overview of four topics, three of them related to toxic exposures that promote cancer, and lastly, he raises an urgently important question: With everything we already know about cancer, why is prevention completely ignored in the government’s cancer plan?
Once you look at what’s being done, and more importantly, what’s NOT being done, cancer starts to look like a profitable business plan in and of itself. Only when viewed under this loupe does ignoring cancer prevention make sense.
A Serious Warning about Nano-Technology in Cosmeceuticals
Dr. Epstein has serious concerns about cosmetic products containing nano-particles, and that the facts about these technologies are being hidden and ignored.
These ingredients are used in many different brands of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, so I encourage you to use this information to evaluate ANY type of cosmetic you’re considering buying.
Some of these nano-particles are so dangerous, in fact, they’re slowly but surely becoming known as “universal asbestos.”
“There is no labeling of the warning at all of the dangers of these nanoparticles, instead they are touted as reducing wrinkling and firming up the skin surface,” he says.
"However, the use of nanoparticles in cosmeceuticals, whether they are sham cosmeceuticals or whether they’re bonafide cosmeceuticals, poses an extraordinarily dangerous and unrecognized public health hazards.
Nanoparticles, because of their ultramicroscopic size, readily penetrate the skin, can invade underlying blood vessels, get into the general blood stream, and produce distant toxic effects.
We already have evidence of this, including toxic effects in the brain, degenerative disorders in the brain, and nerve damage. So we’re dealing here with one of the most dangerous types of products in the whole cosmetic industry.
In May 2006, the Friends of the Earth – a global network of grassroots groups in nearly 80 countries -- published a report on nanoparticles titled “Nanoparticles, sunscreens and cosmetics: Small ingredients, big risks.”
They warned that these high risk products must be banned and removed from the market to protect public health.
“About two years later, in mid-2008, the British Royal Commission report warned that products that contain nanoparticles pose very, very high toxic risks,” Epstein says.
Many products can also contain other toxic ingredients, such as allergens, toxic hormonal ingredients, and known carcinogens such as:
- Ethylene oxide
These are known carcinogens, and should not be present in anything you slather on your skin. Epstein says:“… the evidence which we’ve accumulated so far, is largely restricted to the fact that they [nano particles] get into your bloodstream and reach organs throughout your body.
And as far as the brain is concerned, we have actual evidence of entry into the brain and producing toxic effects -- lesions, small lesions, toxic effects in the brain.”
Why US Milk is BANNED From All of Europe
On March 18, the New York Times ran an editorial titled “Honest Food Labels.” In this article, Dr. Hamburg publicized letters to about 17 or 18 companies, accusing them of masking undesirable ingredients in their products.
She also emphasized the importance of providing information that consumers can rely on.
“Very, very unfortunately, however, she has totally failed to take any such action with regard to two of our major dietary staples; milk and meat,” says Eptein.
“She has excluded milk and meat from undesirable ingredients, and in so doing, she has created the impression that they are safe.
… About 20 percent of our milk is genetically engineered. Technically this is known as rBGH, the small r stands for recombinant, BGH, is bovine growth hormone… This [milk] contains very high levels of a natural growth factor known as IGF-1…
IGF-1 stands for Insulin-like Growth Factor 1. So growth factor 1 is a natural growth factor and is responsible for normal growth but when you drink rBGH milk, you have very, very high levels of this natural growth factor.
When you drink it, the IGF-1 survives digestion and is readily absorbed from your small intestine, into your blood.
Increased levels of IGF-1 have been shown to increase risks of breast cancer and we have about 20 publications showing this; risk of colon cancer [shown] by about 10 publications; prostate cancer by about another 10 publications.
And a further concern: increased levels of IGF-1 block natural defense mechanisms against early cancers, [mechanisms] known as ‘apoptosis.’”
The scientific evidence of the dangers of rBGH milk is explained in great detail in Dr. Epstein’s book What’s in Your Milk?, published in 2006.
“Based on the concerns which I have just briefly summarized, in 1999, the United Nations Food and Safety Agency, which represents a hundred nations worldwide, ruled unanimously not to set safety standards for rBGH milk, and effectively this has resulted in an international ban on U.S. milk.
So here we have Margaret Hamburg saying she wants to prevent any company from selling food with undesirable ingredients. Yet, American milk is banned worldwide because of its dangers -- because of its high levels of IGF-1 and attendant risks from that.”
It’s even worse than simply ignoring the dangers, because milk producers who are committed to providing healthier milk are not allowed to label it correctly. That’s right, they’re NOT allowed to say it’s “rBGH-free,” without adding a big disclaimer saying there are no known health risks of rBGH…
In an ideal world, agencies like the US FDA would do the proper investigations and protect you from known health dangers, so you don’t have to. But there’s nothing ideal about the current state of affairs, so it’s imperative to do your own research and educate yourself about what toxins are lurking in your foods, drugs, and other consumer products, so that you can make the conscious choice to avoid them.
This also goes for most commercial meats.
The Beef with Commercial Meats
One practice in particular makes most commercial meats potentially dangerous to your health, and that’s the practice of implanting cattle with sex hormones prior to entering the feed lot, about 100 days prior to slaughter.
This is done by implanting a pellet containing natural or synthetic sex hormones under the skin of the cattle’s ear. The objective is a financial one, as it increases the meat weight, and hence profits, by about 10 percent, for very little additional cost.
As a result, nearly all commercial meats contain very high levels of sex hormones. Either the natural hormones: testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, or the synthetic equivalent.
“Our meat poses increased risks of hormonal cancers, which have escalated since 1975. Breast cancer has increased by 25 percent, prostate cancer by 60 percent, and testes cancer by 60 percent,” says Epstein.
“Not surprisingly, U.S. meat is banned worldwide like rBGH milk.
So here we are, in what I like to consider is the leading democracy in the world, in which we sell a staple diet -- meat and milk -- that are banned worldwide because they pose major threats of cancer.”
In 1986 there was a report titled “Human Food Safety and the Regulation of Animal Drugs,” which was unanimously approved by the House Committee of Government Operations. In it they concluded that “the FDA has consistently disregarded its responsibility, has repeatedly put what it perceives are interests of veterinarians in the livestock industry ahead of its obligation to protect consumers, thereby jeopardizing the health and safety of consumers of meat, milk, and poultry.”
Unfortunately, nothing has changed as a result of any of these findings.
“The American public are still eating and drinking ultra dangerous products in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, and in spite of the warnings they have received from the rest of the world that “we will not buy your products.”
… It’s almost like an Alice in Wonderland situation. We like to think we’re the greatest democracy in the world and yet we tolerate white collar crime, industry white collar crime, and the white collar crimes for profit.
Not only do we tolerate it, we don’t raise any questions or objections to it.
So, there is something the matter with the American public because they still implicitly trust government and my unfortunate and unhappy warning is: you cannot trust government. You cannot trust USDA.
You cannot trust FDA, and I say this with a sense of overwhelming sadness but there’s an old French expression saying, “Anyone who is in danger should save himself.” “
Making educated choices when food shopping has become a necessity, if you want to remain healthy. That includes avoiding all pasteurized milk, especially milk containing rBGH, and avoiding all commercial, conventionally-raised meats.
One exception is lamb. Dr. Epstein confirms that sex hormones are not used for lambs, and since they’re slaughtered young, they’re mainly grass-fed, even when raised non-organically. It’s also fairly inexpensive, so it can serve as a good alternative if you don’t have regular access to organically-raised, grass-fed meats.
What’s Wrong with the Obama Cancer Plan?
President Obama is the first president to develop a comprehensive cancer plan. Unfortunately, the plan overwhelmingly emphasises oncology – the treatment of cancer after diagnosis, and the references to cancer prevention are scant.
The Obama’s Plan prioritizes and coordinates several agencies; the National Cancer Institute, the Research and Clinical Trials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services, and the FDA for regulating cancer drugs.
Congress passed the National Cancer Act in 1971, which authorized the National Cancer Program to expand and intensify research on cancer prevention due to occupational and environmental exposure to carcinogens.
Shortly after that, President Nixon authorized a 200 million dollar budget for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Since then, the NCI budget has increased more than 30-fold, to over $6 billion for 2010.
Meanwhile, as Dr. Epstein points out, the incidence of a wide range of cancers (other than due to smoking) has also escalated sharply.
“In other words, the more money we spend, the more cancer we’re getting” Dr. Epstein remarks.
For example, according to Dr. Epstein, malignant melanoma has risen by 170 percent; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by 80 percent; thyroid cancer by 120 percent; testes 60 percent, and childhood cancers by 40 percent.
Clearly, something is off; something is wrong. But what?
A major part of this puzzle is the fact that the National Cancer Institute has no interest whatsoever in prevention.
Its focus is exclusively focused on diagnosed treatment and oncology research.
“The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has failed to develop or publicize any listing or registry to avoid all exposures to carcinogens, and these include some drugs, some pharmaceuticals, diagnostic radiation, occupational, environmental exposures to carcinogens, ingredients and consumer products, carcinogenic ingredients and consumer products, food, natural products, cosmetics and personal care products.
Furthermore, NCI - National Cancer Institute has failed to respond, except misleadingly, to a series of congressional requests for such information.
… In March, 1988, in a series of questions to NCI director Richard Klausner… we requested information on NCI’s policies and priorities, and Congressman Obey said, “Should the NCI develop or register avoidable carcinogens and to make this information widely available to the public?” and the answer was, and remains, “No.””
Even more befuddling and frustrating is the fact that the US spend more than five times more than Great Britain does on chemotherapy, yet survival rates are similar.
The answer to the cancer epidemic is clearly not larger budgets for oncology research and drug development. The answer lies in implementing preventive measures, and removing known carcinogens from the market.
Based on Dr. Epstein’s extensive research, here’s a list of toxic factors that have been linked to various kinds of cancer:
- Malignant melanoma – Use of sunscreens that fail to block long-wave, ultraviolet light
- Thyroid cancer – Various types of radiation
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – Herbicides and hair dyes
- Testicular cancer – Pesticides and hormone residues in meats
- Childhood leukemia – Ionizing radiation, preservatives in meat (like hotdogs), and parental exposures to carcinogens
- Ovarian cancer in African-American women over 65 – Genital use of talc powder
With everything we DO know about cancer, the official attitude of indifference to prevention is appalling and immoral.
“We are really dealing with overwhelming policy ineptitude which verges on the criminal on the part of directors of the National Cancer Institute and other Federal agencies,” says Epstein.
… What is happening to us?
Why don’t we exercise some degree of control over those who are supposed to guide us, direct us?”
To hear what other developments are brewing, please listen to the interview in its entirety, or read through the transcript. You won’t believe the potential conflicts of interest that have arisen within the National Cancer Institute with Harold Varmus as its newly appointed Director…
Further Educational Sources
Dr. Epstein’s web site www.PreventCancer.com contains more information about all the topics discussed above.
You can also find more articles about the dangers of rBGH milk and hormone-laced meats on my site, simply by using the search engine at the top of this page.
Educating yourself and others is a process that is not completed overnight. But we are making progress. The more people get educated, the more we’re able to expose the real facts, and push for real changes.
You are a big part of this process!
Don’t underestimate your own importance. Our grassroots efforts paid off big time during last year’s swine flu debacle, and the public’s refusal to be duped has resulted in the World Health Organization now having to take a bite of the sour apple and confess to at least some of its improprieties.
So keep reading, keep investigating, and keep spreading the word about how you can take control of your health!