Foundation for Lung Cancer
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment is a little-known charitable research foundation set up circa 2000 by Dr. Claudia Henschke and her colleague Dr. David Yankelevitz, both of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Dr. Henschke served as its president and Dr. Yankelevitz its vice president and treasurer. According to an article in the March 26, 2008 edition of the New York Times, "the Foundation for Lung Cancer was underwritten "almost entirely" by $3.6 million in grants from the Vector Group, parent company of cigarette maker Liggett, which manufactures Liggett Select, Eve, Grand Prix, Quest and Pyramid cigarette brands. The Times also reported that Henschke's Foundation for Lung Cancer received four grants from the Vector Group, from 2000 to 2003. The American Cancer Society between 2004 to 2007 gave Dr. Henschke more than $100,000 in grants, but said it would not have provided the money if had it known the Foundation also accepted funding from Liggett.
In October of 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a controversial study by Dr. Henschke in which she concluded that 80 percent of lung cancer deaths could be prevented through widespread use of computer tomography (CT) scans. Small print in the article stated that the study was funded partially by a charity organization called the Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment. The editor-in-chief of the journal, Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, said he was unaware that a cigarette maker funded the study. The journal was also unaware of the relationship between Dr. Henschke and Liggett.
Vector claims it exerted no control or influence over the research, but some tobacco control advocates believe Liggett funded the study to show that lung cancer is not as bad as many have long believed since such a high proportion of people who get lung cancer, a disease closely associated with cigarette smoke exposure, can be saved by screening.
Henschke's study, and her Foundation, also raised questions about the use of foundations to shield information about funders -- and particularly corporate donors -- from publishers and the public.
The Foundation for Lung Cancer: Early Detection, Prevention & Treatment
c/o Dr. Claudia Ingrid Henschke, New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical College
525 E. 68th St.
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 746-2529
Fax: (212) 746-2811
Email: chenschATmed.cornell.edu (Replace the word "AT" with an "@" sign)
Henschke CI, et al, New England Journal of Medicine Survival of Patients with Stage I Lung Cancer Detected on CT Screening Volume 355:1763-1771, Number 17; October 26, 2006.