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The Cancer Project
An Animal-Rights Trojan Horse

They are neither responsible nor are they physicians.

— American Medical Association on the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, in Newsweek, 1991
To the untrained ear, a diet education campaign with a name like “The Cancer Project” sounds like a mainstream medical charity aiming to improve Americans' health. But instead of providing an objective and well-informed evaluation of different diets, this animal-rights façade masks a fanatical agenda that has more to do with “saving” animals than people.

The Cancer Project is run by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), an animal rights advocacy group masquerading as a mainstream medical association. Despite the group's name, less than four percent of PCRM's members are physicians.

PCRM is firmly connected with the rabidly anti-medical-research People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has channeled more than $1.3 million dollars to PCRM since its inception. PCRM president Neal Barnard was, until recently, also the president of the PETA Foundation. PETA runs campaigns to boycott the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation because they recognize the value of animal research models in combating diseases. PETA's founding president, Ingrid Newkirk, famously told Vogue magazine: “Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it.”

Neal Barnard, also the Cancer Project's president, has animal-rights connections that run deeper than his PETA ties. Barnard has been nominated to the “Animal Rights Hall of Fame,” was a contributing editor with the The Animal Agenda (a magazine whose March 2002 cover story equated animal husbandry with the Nazi Holocaust), and co-signed letters with a former president of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty—an assembly of anti-medical-research thugs described by the FBI as a “domestic terrorist threat.”

PCRM's goal is the elimination of all animal protein from the American diet. That means no eggs, milk, meat, or seafood. But since science doesn't support the group's abstinence-only approach, PCRM reverts to science-free hyperbole in its public crusades, including:

  • A 1994 ad suggesting that eating meat is “tantamount to suicide”;
  • A 2003 full page ad in the “Hospital Guide” issue of U.S. News & World Report implying that eating meat will put you on a hospital gurney;
  • A Washington-DC ad describing school lunches including meat and milk as “Weapons of Mass Destruction”; and
  • The statement that policy makers “should think of drinking milk the same way we think of smoking cigars.”

The fringe ideology lurking behind outlandish claims like these is what the Cancer Project is all about. The belief that only a strict, vegan diet will minimize your risk of cancer is an animal-rights article of faith, but has little support among doctors. There's nothing wrong with being a vegetarian, but meat can also be part of a healthy diet — for cancer patients as well as healthy Americans. Saying otherwise is misleading.