By George McGrath
Summary: In the 1950s, with mainstream media parroting the government’s pronouncements that Americans were the best fed people on Earth, it was left to fringe publications like the National Police Gazette to report on one of the biggest scandals of the twentieth century: the chemical poisoning of America’s foods. Though the Gazette was largely viewed as a tabloid, on occasion—between stories of murder and outlaws—the paper gave space to serious journalism. The following two articles, published in 1958, report the experiences of Dr. W.C. Hueper, a chief at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, who was silenced when he tried to warn the public of the myriad cancer-causing agents flooding the country’s food supply. According to Dr. Hueper, the long list of cancerous agents being used by American food manufacturers included artificial colors, dyes, surfactants, antifoaming agents, humectants, emulsifiers, preservatives, paraffins, and petrolatum-like substances. Dr. Hueper was particularly alarmed over the unregulated use of carcinogenic estrogen hormones by farmers to fatten their animals. “It is rather remarkable,” he said, “that biologically potent chemicals that are obtainable for medicinal reasons only by a licensed physician can be used freely in large quantities by individuals without any proper training of the potential health hazards.” For many Americans reports like this were the first news that dangerous chemicals were being added to their food, yet, as the articles’ author comments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not only had decades of scientific warning about such substances, it actively thwarted investigators—like Dr. Hueper—who attempted to inform the public of the situation. From the National Police Gazette, 1958. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 18C.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Suppressed Government Report Reveals…New Cancer Menace in Foods
This Story is So Shocking That Officials Tried To Suppress It for Fear It Would Panic the Public. Never Was the Truth So Deadly!
Before you swallow that spoonful of ice cream or eat that delicious pastry, read this—and your indignation may be greater than your indigestion. This is the story that the government was afraid to tell. This is the story of a threat so great that the lives of most of us may be in danger.
In plain words this story tells for the first time that many of our everyday foods contain cancer-producing agents. The truth, as reported by one of the nation’s leading cancer experts, reveals the staggering information that the vicious killer cancer lurks dormant in such foods as candies, soft drinks, vitamins, bread, rolls, puddings, and many other edibles.
But what makes this story even more shocking and even frightening is that the government’s Food and Drug Administration [FDA], the policeman who is supposed to guard our food, has ordered this information suppressed so that the American people won’t know the bitter—and deadly—truth.
Human Guinea Pigs
Considering how huge and terrifying this threat of cancer through the food we eat is, the irresponsible action of the FDA is not only making guinea pigs out of the American people, but worse yet, it is making suckers out of us.
In terms that can be understood by even a half-brained bureaucrat, Dr. W.C. Hueper, chief of the environmental cancer section of the United States Health Services National Cancer Institute, leveled this blast: “It is a well-established fact that an appreciable and growing number of chemicals—of which a few are known to enter the human food supply—are capable of causing and do cause cancers in man under proper conditions of exposure.”
Mind you, Dr. Hueper, a top cancer expert, didn’t weasel-word his statement. He said “capable of causing and do cause cancers in man under proper conditions of exposure.” No buts, its, or maybes.
Dr. Hueper went on to say, “This disconcerting situation is aggravated by the observation that many additional chemicals—some of which are incorporated into consumer goods, including foodstuffs—elicit cancers in experimental animals when introduced in proper amounts and under suitable conditions.”
With this damning evidence before it and knowing full well that many of the foods mentioned in the report were being eaten daily by millions of Americans, did the food and drug office act? Certainly it did. With a speed ignited by the protests of the powerful chemical trusts and leaders in the food industry, the FDA said, “Put a lid on it!” Suppress the report. Don’t tell the American people about the poisons they’re eating.[Photo of man receiving an intravenous injection, with caption:] A human guinea pig voluntarily submits to an injection of cancer cells in an experiment to find a cure for disease. [Photo of investigator amid cages of test animals, with caption:] Cancer-producing chemicals are tested on animals; experiments often expose dangerous chemicals used in food. [Photo of W.C. Hueper, with caption:] Dr. W.C. Hueper, top cancer expert of the U.S. government, whose sensational report exposed harmful food additives.
The Suppressed Facts
The gag would have stayed on were it not for the Police Gazette, which was able to obtain the full details of the Hueper report.
Dr. Hueper reported: “On the basis of information available on the carcinogenic properties of presently used or permitted food additives and contaminants, the following chemicals must be considered carcinogenic according to the widely accepted definition that carcinogens are agents that, when applied under certain conditions to man or animals, elicit the subsequent development of cancers that would not have appeared otherwise.”
The evidence on hand shows that some food dyes used in candies, cakes, and desserts can cause cancers. Dr. Hueper said that several food and cosmetic dyes can probably cause cancers in humans, others are potential cancer-producing agents, and many additional ones have not been adequately investigated.
Potential cancer hazards are the triphenylmethane dyes, Light Green SF, and Fast Green [FCF], used to color candies, essences, cordials, biscuits, cakes, jellies, maraschino cherries, and frozen desserts. Brilliant Blue is also a cancer hazard. This is used as a coloring in icing, cordials, jellies, ice cream, ice cream toppings, milk bar syrups, candies, cake decorations, frozen desserts, soft drinks, puddings, and bakery goods.
Another group of suspect cancer producers are the beta-naphthylamine-azo-benzyl dyes, such as Yellow AM and Yellow OB, used for coloring butter, margarine, and baked goods. Chemicals known as surfactants—used in foodstuffs as antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, and dispersants—have shown cancer-producing effects in experiments in animals.
The cancer expert said that these agents may also be introduced unintentionally into food as residues or detergents. Among the foods in which these chemicals are used are candies, soft drinks, dill pickles, vitamin preparations, ice cream, cream hip [sic], cakes, breads, and rolls. Dr. Hueper warned that a definite amount of caution should be used in the choice of the surfactants and in the amounts that may be permitted in food.
Dangerous Food Containers
Another group of chemicals that Dr. Hueper warned against was the humectants. These are incorporated in marshmallows, pastilles, shredded coconut, confections, ice cream, chocolates, and jelly-like candies, as well as cigarette tobacco. The U.S. scientist said that diethylene glycol, a humectant formerly used in tobacco, caused cancer of the bladder when fed to rats.
There is also a food preservative, 8-hyroxyquinoline, that [has proved] cancer-producing for mice when implanted into the bladder. It’s also been noted that when a contraceptive containing this chemical is fed to or put into the reproductive organs of a female rat kept on a protein diet, it causes cancers of different types in several organs, including the uterus. This chemical is used in cottage cheese as a coagulator and is also present in contraceptive and rectal suppositories.
Paraffin and petrolatum-like material have been incriminated as the cause of various cancers. Foodstuff such as milk, cream, cheese, butter, margarine, and citrus fruits come in contact with paraffin and petroleum waxes used for impregnation of food containers and wrapping paper. The report expresses particular concern that no studies have been undertaken on the safety of these food containers.
Dr. Hueper said, “A competent examination of paraffins and waxes used for medicinal and commercial purposes—including food containers and wrapping material—is indicated because of recent observations of tumor-causing action of presumably purified paraffin when implanted into the bladders of rodents.” Further cancer-producing properties in these wax products have been reported by independent medical researchers, who have found a direct relationship with these products and gastrointestinal cancers of test animals.
The disgraceful weakness in our food and drug laws—permitting the wholesale poisoning of Americans before a chemical used in food is fully tested—was dramatically exposed in the suppressed report. The tragic case of the sweetening agent dulcin was presented. It was available for many years, and millions of Americans, assuming it was perfectly safe because it was openly sold and used in many food products, became potential cancer victims by using it.
Dulcin was recently found to cause cirrhosis and tumors in the liver in rats given the chemical by the mouth. Authorities quietly withdrew it from the open market. The public was never told why. One fact stands out: why did the Food and Drug Administration permit this chemical to be sold before it was adjudged completely safe? It stands as a tragic example of the agency’s inadequacy.
And now many more chemicals are on the market.
Top Officials Alarmed
Dr. Hueper wanted to release his findings on these cancer-producing drugs before a medical group in Wichita, Kansas. In routine procedure his report was sent to superiors, who passed it around the other agencies within the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. When the top brass of the Food and Drug Administration saw it, they quivered and broke out in hysterics. The government officials realized that the report contained damaging evidence against chemicals now commonly used in food. The report also poured salt on some of the administration’s wounds regarding their previous follies. So the FDA screwed a tight lid on the report.
Of course, the Food and Drug Administration has a pat excuse: It blames the weakness in the laws for allowing loopholes through which untested chemicals can be added to food. But this is buck-passing. The FDA went so far as to refuse to okay a highly damaging report made by a medical authority who works for the same parent organization. Almost equally scandalous is the silence on the part of the press, radio, and TV regarding the shocking cancer threat in food additives. It appears everyone is afraid to reveal the naked truth, regardless how damaging it might be and regardless of who will be hurt.
But this exposé is only the beginning. Next month, the Police Gazette throws off another cloak of censorship and shows dramatically how there is cancer in the meat you eat. It will also reveal other chemicals that bring the cancer threat right to your dinner table.
By George McGrath. From the National Police Gazette, January, 1958, Vol. CLXIII, No. 1, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.[Follow-up article, also by George McGrath:]
Guard Your Health: The Terrible Truth About the Meat You Eat!
There’s danger in the meat you eat. Sounds like an advertising slogan you’d hear in a nightmare. But let the words sink in…digest the facts. When you eat that delicious, juicy lamb chop, porterhouse steak, or smoked ham, you may be opening the door to a death trap.
This startling and incredible fact has been revealed by one of the top cancer experts in the country—Dr. W.C. Hueper, chief of the environmental cancer section of the National Cancer Institute of the United States Health Service. But before you run to throw out that beef roast, you must remember these facts: There is nothing wrong with eating meat. The danger lies only in how the animals are fed and how the meat is prepared, processed, and packaged.
And that’s where the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has let the American people down—in that it has failed, partly due to ineffective laws, to prevent food manufacturers and meat producers from putting dangerous chemical agents into our foods. The report by Dr. Hueper, which the FDA suppressed, shows that many meats, such as chicken, fish, pork, beef, and lamb, may become contaminated with cancer-producing agents.
Danger in Smoked Meats
Dr. Hueper [also] pointed out that in the case of smoked hams, bacons, and fish, there is a potential danger in the smoking process. Danger also lurks in the plastic casings for sausages. But probably the most sensational revelation deals with the careless and almost criminal use of female sex hormones to fatten chickens and meat animals. Dr. Hueper said the use of these hormones poses a growing threat to the entire nation.
The Police Gazette, in presenting these startling facts, is not trying to frighten people. It is reporting the truth as presented by an eminent cancer authority. The Police Gazette hopes that by publishing these facts it may stimulate the public to protest to their congressmen. Only in this way will action be taken by the proper government agencies to tighten the laws restricting the use of dangerous chemicals in food and in this way safeguard our most precious asset—our health.
Dr. Hueper, in his detailed and documented report dealing with various types of chemical and physical agents that create cancer hazards to the general population, warned, “Recent observations indicate that foodstuff exposed to wood smoke, such as [that] used in smoking meats and fishes, may become contaminated with cancer-producing agents.” To back up his warning, Dr. Hueper indicated that tumors have been grown in eight of twenty mice fed with smoked bacon.
It is felt that soot and other incomplete combustion products are absorbed by the meat during the smoking process. This carbon material has been singled out by Dr. Hueper as a possible cancer threat to human beings. Although Dr. Hueper explains that there still is much conflicting evidence concerning how much cancer is produced from these soots, he has established the fact that a threat exists, and the nation’s health authorities should be alerted to the dangers—and do something about it.
The doctor said, “It is at present purely speculative but worth investigating whether the marked differences in gastric cancer mortality among different countries of similar racial and cultural nature and among different areas of the same country are in part casually related to local dietary factors.”
The noted cancer authority also threw up a warning flag on certain type plastics used in wrapping and coating materials. Pointing out that certain plastics have produced cancers when implanted into rats and mice, Dr. Hueper said that these plastics are being “employed by an increasing scale in the manufacture of food containers as inner linings of cans and as wrappings and coating materials of foodstuffs, including sausage casings that are apt to be eaten.”
The doctor explained that although there exist as yet in man no counterparts to the “polymer cancer elicited in rats and mice by the parenteral implantation of the various macromolecular plastics, this may be due to the fact that the industrial, commercial, and medicinal use of these chemicals is of rather recent date.”
He added that a latent period “sufficiently long for the development of cancers following the introduction of these polymers into man has not elapsed in most cases. The existence of asbestosis cancers of the lung, however, attests to the fact that the human organism may react to the presence of a silicone polymer with a cancerous manifestation in the exposed tissues.”
And he warns, “It appears to be wise therefore, as a matter of precaution, to keep all occupational groups having cutaneous, respiratory, and ingestive contact with these chemicals under surveillance for evidence suggesting cancer-producing action in man.”
Another cancer hazard exists in the use of certain detergents used to clean cooking utensils. Dr. Hueper said that cancer-producing surfactants may be introduced unintentionally into meats and vegetables as residues of detergents used for cleaning pots and dinnerware.[Photo of dressed animal carcasses, with caption:] Dressed to kill: The appetizing look of dressed and processed meat often hides the presence of harmful chemicals.
Dangers in Hormones
One of the most shocking chapters dealing with the ineptitude of the Food and Drug Administration to protect our health covers the use of female sex hormones. These hormones, or estrogens, are chemicals used to speed up the fattening of fowl, hogs, cattle, and sheep. The hormones are given to the animals either in the form of pellets, either implanted under the skin or added to the feed. Sounds innocent enough, but listen to Dr. Hueper: “Estrogens are recognized carcinogens for several species, causing, upon prolonged administration, cancers of the breast, uterus, bladder, and tissues.”
But the real indictment of the government agency comes in this shocker from the learned doctor, who has conducted many experiments in cancer. He lashed out:
“Practical experience has shown that farmers and poultry men do not always follow the instructions regulating the commercial use of these biologically highly potent substances. They do not always insert the estrogen pellets in parts of the animal’s neck that are discarded but rather in parts that are eaten; they implant more than one pellet of 15 mg of estrogenic chemical; and they sell their animals for human consumption before the safety period of six weeks after implantation has elapsed.”
And when damaging evidence of this sort was presented, the FDA secretly put the lid on Dr. Hueper’s report, for fear that their reckless folly might be exposed. And meanwhile the general public continues to eat meat that contains dangerous sex pellets. You must remember that over 100,000,000 broilers are estrogen fed, as are fifty percent of all beef cattle.
Dr. Christian Hamburger of Copenhagen, who helped George Jorgenson of New York become Christine and Charles McLeod of New Orleans become Charlotte and who should know about those things, warns that the same might happen to men who eat estrogen-treated chickens. The Danish doctor said that some male scientists doing laboratory work with female hormones developed womanly breasts, lost their beards, and became impotent. All the effects were caused by breathing in tiny particles of female hormones. In this country Dr. Robert E. Enders, Professor of Zoology at Swarthmore College, said that any use of hormones to fatten food animals is against “the public interest.”
The Food and Drug Administration, which has permitted the indiscriminate use of estrogens to fatten poultry, should heed the warning in Dr. Hueper’s statement, which may lead to a scandalous eruption in the agency’s official family. Dr. Hueper, seemingly shocked by what he knew, said: “It is rather remarkable that biologically potent chemicals that are obtainable for medicinal reasons only by a licensed physician can be used freely in large quantities by individuals without any proper training of the potential health hazards—especially since such practices are difficult to control adequately on a nationwide basis in foodstuffs handled by thousands of individual producers.”
The doctor explained that the female sex hormones have been found to cause cancers of the uterus and breast in women. He added that reports of the occurrence of cancers of the uterus following a prolonged treatment of estrogens have become more frequent in recent years.
The grim story of the cancer threat in our food has many facets. Next month, the Police Gazette exposes for the first time another menace to the nation’s health.
By George McGrath. Reprinted from the National Police Gazette, Vol. CLXIII, No. 2, February 1958. This article and the preceding one published as a single publication, Reprint 18C, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.
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