There is no excuse for putting wealth over health or profit over people. Why settle for a mega-charity that can’t even cover up its own scandals when there are dozens of well-respected charities that give way more of the money you give them to the cause?

As last week’s article defending Relay for Life detailed, the American Cancer Society has received high praise from The Better Business Bureau.

Like the ACS, the Better Business Bureau is one of the most corrupt non-profits on the planet. In 2010, ABC’s 20/20 program exposed the BBB in a segment titled “The Best Ratings Money Can Buy.”

The BBB is a disgrace. As junior Charlie Landsman said in his pro-Relay for Life article last week— it focuses on whether or not charities are successful at meeting their own goals. The BBB ignores what charities do with their money.

Nothing the BBB states has anything to do with whether a charity is doing the right thing or not— but everything to do with how much money the charity gives to the BBB.

Dozens of business owners have come forward, claiming that the only way to improve their BBB rating was by paying a large fee. In one case, a C was turned to an A immediately after a payment, and, in another instance, a C- became an A+. World famous chef Wolfgang Puck said that some of his businesses receive F’s because he refuses to pay a fee. Ritz Carlton, which similarly does not belong to BBB, also receives F’s for not responding to its complaints.

Landsman defended the ACS in a very convincing manner, insinuating that the three scandals I highlighted as demonstrating the ACS’s involvement in were taken from WikiPedia, as well as suggesting that those three examples were the only scandals of which to speak.

First of all, I wrote much of the WikiPedia article on the American Cancer Society, as one can see by looking at the page’s contribution history. I’ve written and edited over 100 articles for WikiPedia since 2006.  So, there was nothing fishy about the similarities between the information on WikiPedia and my article condemning relay for life two weeks ago.

And secondly, those are not the only three scandals on the WikiPedia page— they are simply the only three I mentioned. There are many more scandals not cited on WikiPedia. I’ll talk about several of these scandals later in this article.

The American Cancer Society is a scandalous charity. Their corruption and deception run deep. In 2008, the American Cancer Society turned down participation from the Foundation Beyond Belief in its Relay For Life “National Team” program, worth more than $500,000. The ACS didn’t want to accept money from an atheist organization because they thought it would hurt their reputation as a charity.

Their willingness to play politics with donations shouldn’t surprise us— as the Cancer Prevention Coalition claims, “the ACS has consistently rejected or ignored opportunities and requests from Congress, regulatory agencies, unions, environmental, and consumer organizations to provide scientific evidence critical to efforts to legislate and occupational, environmental, and personal product carcinogens.”

The ACS is in bed with corporations that cause cancer. They can afford not to accept half a million dollars, as they take in billions.

Want another scandal? How about three? Dr. Joseph Mercola, one of America’s most reputable physician and surgeon, has gone to great lengths to expose the ACS. Mercola is New York Times bestseller and former Chairman of Family Medicine at St. Alexius Medical Center. I will paraphrase three of the scandals he has spoken about on:

  1. The ACS is in bed with the mammography industry. Mammography has been shown to be an avoidable potential cause of breast cancer itself, and the vast majority of cancer charities now denounce it as a medical practice. In 2009, revised mammogram guidelines were issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. They found that the benefits of mammogram screening, by far, do not outweigh the risks for women under the age of 50. Therefore, they recommend that women wait to get regular screenings until the age of 50, and only get one every other year thereafter. The ACS, however, still recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. In fact, the ACS upholds it as the number one cancer “prevention strategy.” The mammography industry not only conducts research for the ACS and its grantees, its representatives also serve on ACS advisory boards, and donates considerable funds. In fact, five radiologists have served as presidents of the ACS. As the Cancer Prevention Coalition states, the ACS’s ties to the mammography industry serve as examples of  “conscious, chosen, politically expedient acts by a small group of people for the sake of their own power, prestige, and financial gain, resulting in suffering and death for millions of women. They fit the classification of “crimes against humanity.”
  2. The ACS claims that dramatic progress has been made in the war against cancer, which they are “winning.” Meanwhile, global cancer rates have doubled in the last three decades, and their “war on cancer” strategy is failing.
  3. The ACS claims that the leading reason we see a rising cancer mortality rate in the U.S is because of smoking. But smoking is on a very rapid decline in the United States, particularly in big cities like New York and Chicago that have taken measures to make smoking more expensive and difficult. Dr. Mercola claims that the ACS, “oftentimes denies the obvious links between cancer and toxic exposures through pesticide-laden foods, toxic personal care products, cancer-causing medical treatments and drugs, and industrial pollution.”

What most Americans don’t know is that there are a large network of corrupt charities coercing millions of well-intentioned people to give them money so they can spend billions on advertising and load the pockets of their greedy CEOs.

John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, received $2,300,000 from the charity. This is the most money given by any charity to the charity head.

The American Cancer Society is building a reputation to be less like a charity, and more like a corporation. With millionaire CEOs, embezzlement scandals that have landed criminals tens of millions of donated money, tax fraud schemes, corporate ties, and denying donations for political reasons- the American Cancer Society feels very little like a charity and a lot like one of those evil companies you hear about in Michael Moore documentaries. What makes them even worse than these companies is that they pretend to be good guys, and do it so well. People giving to the ACS, convinced by a bombardment of advertisements, think their money is going to nothing but good causes in the battle against cancer.

I’ve now written about seven or so scandals involving the ACS. If Landsman, or someone else writes another article defending Relay for Life, I will pull out another bag of ugly, disgraceful scandals.

Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and other highly respected charity watchdogs rank the ACS in last place or second to last place (Susan G. Komen is awful, too) in their categories for cancer charities.

The ACS isn’t 100 percent terrible. They do plenty to fund some of our countries best Cancer rehab centers and they do plenty to empower cancer patients. But, should we settle for last place? There are so many smaller, more dedicated and better managed cancer charities out there.

Sure, these charities aren’t spending billions of dollars asking you for money or giving millions and millions to their CEOs. But, size isn’t everything. When it comes to charities, small is big.

My grandfather died of prostate cancer before I got the chance to meet him. So did my step-grandmother. My step-mother survived childhood cancer and is now one of the greatest people in my life.

When I was in high school, my biggest hero, my mom, battled and beat cancer, just like her father.

Just a few months ago, my dad had a cancer scare in his foot.

Cancer is everywhere in my family. I will probably get it one day, and I will fight my hardest to beat it. But when it comes to asking people what they can do to help win the war against cancer, the last charity I would ask them to donate to is the ACS.

If you want to beat cancer, donate to Cancer Care, the Cancer Research Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Cancer Prevention Coalition, or the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Like I said last week, there are plenty of A-rated, highly respected cancer charities willing to do great things with your money. There is no way around the fact that the American Cancer Society is not one of them.

Sam Smith

Commentary and Debate Editor

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