By Rob Holston
May 19, 2006
The spring of 2006 was marked by an historic baseball event. I am not speaking of Barry Bonds eclipsing Babe Ruth's 714 home run career count. I'm speaking of major league baseball breaking out the "pink bats" to fight breast cancer.
Just how baseball can fight breast cancer with pink bats remains to be seen, but the plan goes something like "It will bring a lot of awareness to the problem." And the pink bats, or at least some of them will be auctioned off and the revenue will support the efforts of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Thinking I had a lot to learn about their struggles against breast cancer and how pink bats might help, I clicked onto www.komen.org I was astounded by what I saw and didn't see.
The site's home page touts the headlines "One person can make a difference." I assume that one person is Susan G. Komen and according to her website, her contributions to the fight against breast cancer have been significant, nearly 25 years and $630,000,000 in breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. That is an astounding accomplishment. This home page also promotes the "Race For The Cure", a world-wide fund raising effort. It made me wonder just how we are doing in the fight against breast cancer, so I emailed the Komen organization with one question.
"Has the incidence of breast cancer increased or decreased during the past 20 years?" The response came quickly. The sobering answer stated that since the 1940's, the incidence of breast cancer has increased at about 1% (per year). This adds up to about 60 years, so I assume that is about a 60% increase since World War II!!!
At the suggestion of the Komen organization, I clicked on the National Cancer Institute. Because my particular interest lies in the prevention of breast cancer, I was drawn to the subtitle, Breast Cancer Prevention. It was there that I learned about Tomoxifin, a drug that has shown promise through what I can only assume is a double blind placebo based study. After reading the next 8 sub topics under prevention, I realized that they all had to do with Tomoxifin. The next sub topic had to do with chemoprevention, which is some sort of double talk for Tomoxifin AGAIN! Next was a real life saver, MASTECTOMY!! This must be medicine at its very best, explaining how to prevent breast cancer by surgically removing the breasts. If that were my doctor's philosophy of prevention, I should have second thoughts about ever mention having a headache! The last sub topic had to do with nutrition. A-ha! AT LAST! We are getting to the "spinach sermon." But no, this report told us "an eating pattern lower in total fat did not significantly reduce the incidence of breast cancer, heart disease or stroke."
I clicked back to the Komen site, hit "About Breast Cancer" then "Risk Factors & Prevention." Did I mention I'm interested in prevention? After clicking through topic after topic of risk factors, prevention was never directly addressed, although it was written at the top of each page. Page after page of risk factors you can do nothing about, such as tall women have more breast cancer than short women. But then there were a few topics that did lend them selves to prevention, even though they were listed as risk factors. Do NOT drink alcohol, do NOT smoke, do NOT be obese and DO breast feed your baby. Speaking of babies, having one (or more) reduces your risk. But still no "spinach sermon." I was still thinking the proper diet might just have something to do with the PREVENTION of breast cancer. On to the Komen site's "Cancer Research" section I went.
Here we are told, "Fruit and vegetable intake appear to have little, if any, impact on the risk of breast cancer." This horrible statement is based upon several studies involving well over _ million women and referenced reports from 1989 to recent years. All women in the additional fruit and vegetable group had increased their intake of fruits and vegetables by (get this) one serving per day(!) Why is this a "horrible" statement? One extra serving of fruits and vegetables per day will add 1 or 2 or perhaps 3 grams of fiber per day. The average intake of fiber per day in the U.S. is about 11 grams. You do the math. Adding even 3 grams per day gives you a total of 14 grams. The minimum intake recommended by the FDA, the National Institute of Health, American Diabetes Association, Heart Association, Cancer Society..is 25-30 grams per day. That's MINIMUM, not optimum. The results of this study rely on measuring the breast health of a population that is gravely fiber deficient to a population who is gravely deficient plus 1 - 3 grams. When you increase a grave deficiency by 5% to 10%, you are still gravely deficient.
The premise is: If you don't do something enough to make a difference then it makes no difference! When a study compares a population that gets 40 grams of fiber a day to a population that gets 11 grams per day, I guarantee the results will shout "Cure!"
I did finally find the "spinach sermon" I was hoping to find, tucked away on the Komen web site under "folates" an ingredient known to prevent breast cancer. The foods high in folates (and fiber) they listed included: lentils(6.4gr.), pinto beans(5.3 gr.), garbanzo beans(4.4gr.), asparagus(3.1gr.), spinach(7gr.) and black beans(5.8gr.). Is it any coincidence that these foods are all sources of fiber(grams listed per serving) and those from the pulses family have some of the highest concentrations of soluble and insoluble fiber known to man? Perhaps the Komen organization should read the April 1991 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, stating in part "doubling the amount of fiber in a diet can significantly reduce the amount of mammary cancer" The 1987 report in the Journal of Steroid Biochemisty advised that "fiber intake causes the production of substances that protect against breast and prostate cancer." The International Journal of Cancer, in 1990 reported "A high intake of cereal products, especially those rich in fiber, may be inversely related to the incidence of breast cancer." The Medical Oncology and Tumor Pharmacotherapy, in 1990 reported "the approach to breast cancer prevention should include an increase in fiber consumption to 25 or 30 grams a day.
I don't know how major league baseball using pink bats will affect the fight against breast cancer, but if the Komen org's statistic of breast cancer incidence increasing since the 1940's through the present is true, we have a very serious problem. Organizations like Komen.org seem to be soliciting funds to look for the "cure" for breast cancer while ignoring the obvious. Since the 1940's, homegrown fruits and vegetables and fiber consumption have greatly diminished in America. A sedentary lifestyle with pizza home delivery and fast foods has caused obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and yes, cancer, to steadily increase. The next time I sit down to view a baseball game on T.V. and I see a non-pink bat, I hope I think about that bat being the color of FIBER, the green of the outfield will remind me of asparagus, broccoli and spinach and the sight of Barry Bonds or pictures of Babe Ruth will remind me, I should be out getting some exercise.
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Contact Rob at holston[at]kpunet.net
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