American Cancer Society

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) was formerly known as the American Society for the Control of Cancer. (E. Whelan 1984). The ACS is the largest non-religious charity in the world with cash reserves of over one billion dollars. [1] The ACS has over 2 million volunteers at 3,400 local units across the country. It is the largest source of private cancer research funds in the United States.

In the fiscal year ending in August of 2007, the ACS had approximately 7000 employees.[2] and reported sales of $487.3 million dollars. [3]

ACS & tobacco

The American Cancer Society has long opposed smoking. In 1962, the ACS Board of Directors, having reviewed scientific studies done on the relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer performed until that time, publicly declared that "the clinical, epidemiological, experimental, chemical and pathological evidence presented by the many studies reported in recent years indicates beyond reasonable doubt that cigarette smoking is the major cause of the unprecedented increase in lung cancer."[4] In the 1970s the ACS started the "Great American Smokeout,", a nationwide event that takes place on the third Thursday of each November, in which ACS encourages smokers to quit for a day, in hopes that they will quit permanently. Tobacco control advocate Clifford E. Douglas persuaded the ABC television network to investigate tobacco companies' manipulation of nicotine levels in cigarettes and served as a spokesman for the American Cancer Society in 1994 when he appeared on ABC's Day One program that accused the tobacco companies of "spiking" cigarettes with nicotine. The American Cancer Society filed an amicus curiae brief in the Forster v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company 423 N.W.2d 691 (Minn. App. 1988) case, a Minnesota suit that involved the theory of liability based on inadequate warnings preempted by the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA).

Tobacco industry undermines Great American Smokeout

In 1977, the ACS started the Great American Smokeout. It urged smokers to quit for the day and also for good. However, a 1984 letter from Guy L. Smith, the Vice President of Public Affairs at Philip Morris, urged recipients to help PM undermine the Great American Smokeout. In the letter, Smith berated the ACS:

"...the shrill zealotry of this organization boldly and smugly overlooks an array of important smoking issues..."

He called the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service's goal of a smoke-free society by 2000, an "unfortunate effort at social engineering" that was "out of step the with sentiments of a majority of Americans." Smith urged each recipient of the letter to write to not one, but two of their local newspapers to "point out that the American Cancer Society should not spend its resources on activities like the Great American Smokeout."[5]

Silence on California Safe Cosmetics Act

With the passage of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, cosmetics companies will have to tell California state health officials about the ingredients in their products that might cause cancer. It would seem that the ACS would be a natural supporter of this kind of legislation, but grassroots cancer-prevention organizers found this not to be the case. According to a November 2005 article in the Sacramento News & Review:

"The bill’s proponents said that one of the new law’s biggest obstacles was the silence of the ACS, the most powerful cancer-research and cancer-lobbying organization in the world. The ACS is now the second-largest charity in the world, with a net worth of over $1 billion and an average $1 billion in annual revenue."

ACS denied its silence on the bill was due to industry influence. Nonetheless, the bill's "chief opponent, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) gives $10 million annually to ACS’s 'Look Good, Feel Better' makeup program for cancer patients." [6]

Focus on profitable therapies & expensive "research"

Daily expenditures by the ACS exceed one million dollars, with only approximately 16% going into patient cancer programs. The rest is funneled into expensive "research" and bureaucratic overhead. Meager prevention programs are designed not to offend the industry. The average American diagnosed with cancer spend upwards of $25,000 of their savings on "cures". Claims of progress include people with benign diseases. Those in remission for longer than 5 years are declared cured, although many will die from either cancer or treatment after five years. [7] See also War on Cancer.

ACS & animal testing

Charities which fund animal testing include the American Cancer Society. [8] More is spent on cancer than any other medical problem. There are more people living off of cancer than cancer sufferers. Millions of laboratory animals have been injected with cancerous material or implanted with malignancies. [9], [10]

Why hasn't progress progress commensurated with the effort and money invested? One explanation is the unwarranted preoccupation with animal testing. Crucial genetic, molecular, immunologic and cellular differences have disqualify animal models as an effective means to a cure. Mice are most commonly used, although "Mice are actually poor models of the majority of human cancers"; according to the industries own laboratory animal publication. According to leading cancer researcher, Robert Weinberg, "The preclinical (animal) models of human cancer, in large part, stink… Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by drug companies using these models." [11] See also War on Cancer.

Tobacco studies on animals

The American Cancer Society was an early promulgator of the link between smoking and cancer in the landmark epidemiological studies of 1952 and 1959. However, the tobacco industry was able to delay widespread acceptance of this link largely because animals in studies did not develop cancer. [12] Animal testing was used by politicians to avoid taking action against tobacco companies. Decades of vague and inconclusive results enabled them to perpetuate confusion and prevent doctors from giving authoritative warnings. Researchers spent decades forcing beagles to smoke cigarettes and painting tar on the backs of mice (although there were already clear links between tobacco and human cancer). Physicians were encouraged to keep quiet while researchers spent years performing animal tests. [13], [14]

Smoking beagle experiments

See also Smoking beagles.

Financial statement & corporate donors

As of the fiscal year ending in August of 2007, the AMA had a net revenue 1.17 billion dollars. [15] Corporate donors include processed food and pharmaceutical industry giants like Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Walmart as well as Metropolitan Life Insurance. [16]


  • G. Van Velsor Wolf - Chairman
  • George Atkins - Chair Elect
  • Stephen Swanson - Vice Chairman[17]


250 Williams St., Ste. 600
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States

Phone: 404-320-3333
Fax: 404-982-3677
Toll Free: 800-227-2345

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch resources


  1. Katy Schiel The war on cancer is a fraud: The 'Cancer Establishment' is lying to you., Disinformation, July 2002
  2. Company Information: American Cancer Society, accessed February 2010
  3. Company Description: American Cancer Society, Inc., Hoovers, accessed February 2010
  4. T. Whiteside, A Reporter At Large, A Cloud Of Smoke, New Yorker Magazine, November 30, 1963. Bates NO. 966018382/8390
  5. Untitled letter Smith, GL. Philip Morris. Letter. November 16, 1984. Bates No. 2026240335/0336
  6. Mary Ann Swissler Is silence golden? California grassroots activists get a big win, but where was the American Cancer Society?", Sacramento News & Review, November 2005
  7. Katy Schiel The war on cancer is a fraud: The 'Cancer Establishment' is lying to you., Disinformation, July 2002
  8. Animal Rights Uncompromised: Life-Taking Charities, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed February 2009
  9. Cancer, Information for Transformation, accessed February 2009
  10. Patricia Haight, Ph.D., Shaynie Aero The Failed Research of Micheal Berens, Liberation Magazine, accessed February 2009
  11. A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation: A. Selected Diseases: 1. Cancer, Medical Research Modernization Committee, 2006
  12. Altria Stock Holder Proposals: Proposal 1 – Eliminate Animal Testing for Tobacco Products, pdf, pg, 44, 45, 2005
  13. Wasted Tobacco Settlement Money, White Coat Welfare, accessed September 2009
  14. Anne Landman, Donald G. Cooley Smoke Without Fear (1954): The Mouse-skin Experiments, pg 13,, accessed December 2009
  15. American Cancer Society, Inc., Hoovers, accessed February 2009
  16. About ACS: Corporations Committed to the Cause, American Cancer Society, accessed February 2009
  17. Company Description: American Cancer Society, Inc., Hoovers, accessed February 2010

External articles