Book review.


Samuel Epstein, 'The Politics of Cancer - Revisited' East Ridge Press USA 1998, 770 pages, ISBN 0914896474.


Leading cancer expert urges reform of "Cancer Establishment"

In 1978 the Sierra Club Books landmark The Politics of Cancer documented the relation between increasing cancer rates and avoidable exposures to environmental and occupational carcinogens, and the culpability of the petrochemical industry. The Politics of Cancer - Revisited analyzes subsequent public policy and scientific developments over the past two decades and charges the cancer establishment -- the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society -- with major responsibility for losing the winnable war against cancer because of its, not always benign, indifference to prevention, coupled with misleading claims for major advances in treatment and pervasive conflicts of interest.

Part I of The Politics of Cancer - Revisited is the complete text of the 1978 Politics of Cancer, which traces the shocking history of how the war against cancer was lost -- not irretrievably, but definitely lost -- during the Nixon and Carter Administrations by a number of lethally wrongheaded policy decisions of the American cancer establishment.

Part II picks up the story with the coming of the Reagan administration and brings it forward to the present -- brilliantly untangling a web of high-level obfuscation, duplicity, conflict of interest, greed, and outright criminality.

As an exposé, The Politics of Cancer - Revisited is a stunner. Dr. Epstein is not just one of the world’s leading cancer experts. He is a fighter. His persistence in carrying the fight to the cancer establishment in the face of their strong-arm tactics defending their many grievous mistakes, makes for a stirring narrative. And his fight is no longer a lonely one. Scores of highly-credentialed experts in public health and cancer prevention have now rallied to the cause of forcing a radical reform of the National Cancer Institute and bringing about a real turning in the tide of the still-winnable war against cancer. All this makes for very exciting -- and very hopeful -- reading, especially in the field of cancer, where fear and despair too often are all that the ordinary individual and the individual family end up with after the political and professional posturing and hype have had their full innings.

But The Politics of Cancer - Revisited is more than an exposé. As incredible as such a wildly hopeful notion sounds, it is a fact that Dr. Samuel Epstein has a workable plan for defeating the scourge of cancer, in America and worldwide. Granted, implementation of this plan would cost a lot of money to bring about the removal of sufficient poisons from our food, our drinking water, and our industrial workplaces. And a number of vested interests at high levels would have to be effectively challenged and defeated. But this much can -- and must -- be demanded of our enlightened democracy, whose citizens are being killed off by the disease of cancer at the rate of one in four.

The important things to bear in mind about Dr. Epstein’s plan are that it is realistic and it is authoritative. And, although it has been put together by scientists, it can be readily understood and carried forward by ordinary citizens -- at the individual and family level as well as at the higher levels of industry and government. This is the plan of individual prevention and effective political action spelled out in The Politics of Cancer - Revisited.

Source: The publisher, East Ridge Press, December 29, 1998