WSTB05H3 Study Guide - Environmental Health, American Cancer Society, Yiddish Words Used In English

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Connie Guberman

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Week 11:
Article: The Secret History of the War On Cancer
By: Devra Davis
Starts the book with family stories about her great-grandmother, grandmother and
father demonstrates her perseverance
Bubbe Fanne explosion under her house > raced through flames to save her two
Harry (her father) drill sergeant > snatched a live grenade from the shaking
hands of a green army recruit and tossed it away just before it blew to smithereens
Perseverance related to how long she took to right her book
Wanted to write a book on how cancer had actually increased and how it couldn’t be
all explained by smoking, improved diagnosis or aging.
Her boss (Frank Press) told her that it better be a good book because she
wouldn’t be able to work there anymore after she wrote it
“im just telling you that can’t write a book critical of the cancer enterprise
and hold a senior position at the institution”
another man advised her against it too…
told her a story about Wilhelm Hueper:
o stared out like her ..had lots of good ideas about the environment
o thought the exclusive focus of smoking would lead us away from
other causes of cancer that were far more deadly
o he ended up getting kicked out of the place..wasn’t easy to work
with…rubbed off people the wrong way
after seeing what happened to Wilhelm, he decided it was better to stick
to basic research …urged her to do the same
common problem: everyone kept saying “we need more research before we can be
since its formal launch more than 35 years ago, the war on cancer has been fighting
many of the wrong battles with the wrong weapons and the wrong leaders
** I think this is where we make can make a connection to a “woman’s voice” ** ^^^
As word got out about her book, she started to hear from people that she never met
before and met others that she never imagined to be sympathetic
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they offered her stories that she never heard before and documents that
she could never find in libraries or government dockets
what she found out:
- some of the early leaders of the American Cancer Society and National Cancer
Institute left their posts to work directly for tobacco industry , where they
funded major academic research programs throughout the world to foment
uncertainty about the dangers of their product right up to the 1990s.
- The cervical cancer test Pap smear was not put into widespread use until
more than a decade after because they were afraid it would undermine the
private practice of medicine these delays led to unnecessary surgery or
death of millions of women
- Files based on studies that were on workplace causes of cancer, the dangers
of medical and environmental hormones, and the cancer-causing properties
of tobacco, 60 years later still remain unpublished
- Laboratories carried out secret studies on the hazards of workplace
chemicals, including: lead in gasoline, materials used to coat cooking surfaces
of pots and pans, residues of cancerous materials in paraffin wax used in milk
cartons, the manufacture of rubber and coke, and many other major
industrial chemicals. The results of this work were not released to workers
or the public unless those funding it agreed. “worker health” being kept as a
secret is common in many industrial nations.
- Over 2 decades, millions of taxpayer dollars in the U.S and Britain were spent
trying to develop a safe cigarette, despite a broad consensus among scientists
that such a thing was impossible.
- Meyron Mehlman served at Mobil Oil as director of toxicology and manager
of its environmental health and science of toxicology and manger of its
environmental health and science laboratory, responsible for the
international firm’s testing of chemcials. Melhmans’ records later revealed
that Mobil and other oil companies hid what they knew about the dangers of
- In the first 6 years of the 21C, America has tripled the amount of some
asbestos products it imports from China, Brazil, Columbia and Mexico.
Canada and America are one of the few industrial countries to have not
banned asbestos. In France a rare tumor is believed to be tied with asbestos
Davis says:
To reduce the burden of cancer today, we must prevent it from arising in the first
place and we have to find new ways to keep the millions of cancer survivors from
She believes that if we had acted on what has long been known about the industrial
and environmental causes of cancer when this war first began, at least a million and
half of lives could have been spared, a huge casualty rate that those who have
managed the war on cancer must answer for.
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