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[politics|culture] More on Komen - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-09-18 05:46
Subject: [politics|culture] More on Komen
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, culture, healthcare, politics
A friend responded via email to yesterday's post about the media, political perceptions, and my views on the Komen Foundation. It's worth reposting, though they specifically requested that I omit attribution. They'll see any comments people make here, and can covey responses through me if need be.

Here’s a link on media coverage affecting attitudes about politics. Might be something to consider when it comes to other things.

Regarding Komen, I’ve got mixed feelings. I have some warm fuzzies about the group. My mom did a short walk before her diagnosis. The wife of one of my old sources and my source walks it every year and sometimes when they are training their route comes by my house and we chat. So it’s warm fuzzies. People I know do the walk.

But I’m really feeling critical about Komen group. There’s a lot of reasons for me to think that they aren’t a group I’d put time and money into. It’s not just the Planned Parenthood snafu.

They sued other charities for using the words "for the cure." (To me that's almost as bad as the Washington Shriners sued the Campfire girls trying to break a 100-year lease on land that the Campfire Girls gave the Shriners. So group that benefits kids sues kids' group. WTF? Cancer-fighting nonprofit goes after other nonprofits over intellectual property over words that anyone writing about cancer would use. WTF? It’s like the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee suing a brewer for creating 2002 the unofficial amber forgetting that you can’t trademark a year.) I think a nonprofit should take the high road and not worry if someone wants to use the same prepositional phrase.

There's some concern that more money is being spent on marketing, masked as education (34 percent of the budget page 13 in the FY2011 Annual report, more financial info here. However, I have not looked at their tax statements, which are public record, and compared them to other groups’ statements, such as the American Cancer Society.

There's also a concern about Komen not recognizing certain carcinogenic as carcinogenic. Jezebel would have it be a red/GOP conspiracy. I'm not so sure about that; I suspect it's Komen board not understanding science. (That's my take based on watching some of the lawmakers argue about the science when they were working on outlawing BPAs in Washington.)

There's also it's issue with how it uses stats in advertising that caught the attention of two doctors/researchers who published their criticism in the British Medical Journal.

Since Komen is ranked with St. Jude's as the most trust worthy philanthropy groups in the nation, I think Komen needs to be cautious that the information they provide helps women make informed health choices, rather than misleading them.

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User: kshandra
Date: 2012-09-18 17:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fuck Cancer
Pink Ribbons, Inc. speaks to that last point; I still need to see it.
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User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2012-09-18 17:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My issue with Komen is the fact they keep shoving the color pink as their trademark .. and I hate pink. Hate it with a passion.

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User: hbergeronx
Date: 2012-09-18 21:09 (UTC)
Subject: BPA
The worry over BPA is almost certainly overblown, and has progressed in a very unscientific manner. The concerns of BPA (and really, all plastics) in water bottles is overblown- in terms of exposure, BPA and other toxic chemicals are much more likely coming from thermal printers and other single-use items like soda cans than from reusable containers. There's no doubt that BPA is a risk factor, but in terms of the many other risk factors, it is among the lowest concern. Arguing that Komen doesn't care about BPA is a lot like saying the American cancer Society doesn't care about BPA because it doesn't list BPA as one of its breast cancer risks http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/OverviewGuide/breast-cancer-overview-what-causes

There's a lot to dispute about "estrogenic activity" and what it means. When I started in the cancer prevention business, there was a known association between soybean consumption and reduced cancer risk, but even though soy isoflavones are phytoestrogenic, no one really knows what that means. Out of an abundance of caution, people with estrogen-promoted cancers should avoid anything tested "estrogenic", but the risk for real people compared with other factors seems vanishingly small.

Trying to read the main paper http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737011/ linking BPA bottles and BPA levels in people is a maze of conflicting information. Basic, clear usage of dimensional analysis is absent, and their conflation of ug/dl and mg/g creatinine leaves me with a lot of doubt. If they were near the measurement limits, there would be no need for dilution- so why are they correcting for dilution? Are they suggesting the samples were tampered with? Furthermore, the geometric mean change in levels was from ~1ug to ~2ug, which, while representing a 100% jump, is not significant compared to other studies, which deal with changes e.g. of 4ng/ml, or 4ug/l http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2012/02/21/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.069153.full.pdf Furthermore, since BPA is cleared fairly quickly, we would not expect there to be a significant buildup the way that levels of PCBs bioaccumulate.

Another, more thorough study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079892/ shows that higher levels are associated with institutional food, which suggests to me that BPA from canned goods and one-time usage supplies, as well as receipts, might represent a greater problem source. Leaching is generally a one-time and time of exposure problem, whereas most portable containers are reused and the contents are not stored over long periods of time. Water is not generally sterile and needs to be replaced after sitting for any length of time in a reusable bottle.

To my way of thinking, BPA in reusable bottles was classic misdirection- it took an issue which was not an actual risk and labeled it "the problem". The fact that unblinded participants had partaken in a known cleanout period without control or blinding and subjects represented their own, internal control group suggests to me that positive control levels only half that of challenge levels (and only twice that of detection limits), in addition to negative detection in some of the challenge group, invalidated the use of this paper as a secondary reference.

Komen, for whatever their wrongdoings, is fully justified in taking the stand that as an issue for focus of resources or funding, BPA is just not a good lead to pursue. I suspect that the Komen board might have gotten on the right side of science, despite the vociferous concerns of activists.

Edited: also, if the BPA industry has expanded dramatically in recent years, and BPA has a significant estrogenic effect, and that exposure to BPA is causing environmental cases of breast and prostate cancer, how come the rates of both prostate and breast cancer have dropped significantly since 1990 (article is from 2005, before "remove BPA" campaigns started in earnest)? http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/caff2005f4pwsecuredpdf.pdf

Edited at 2012-09-18 09:35 pm (UTC)
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