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Thursday, April 18, 2024

‘Black Eagle’ Joe Madison worked for racial tolerance

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

Joe Madison was an outstanding talk-radio host who was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2019. He called himself “The Black Eagle” and used talk radio to advocate for racial tolerance, starting when he joined the otherwise all-white lineup at WWRC-AM radio in the early 1990s. He was a close friend of mine as I did a daily talk show on health, fitness and nutrition on the same station during the peak popularity of talk radio. We remained friends and communicated long after the station changed its format in 1998. Madison was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and died at age 74 on January 31, 2024, of that disease.

Joe Madison
Joe Madison

Early Years and Lifelong Activism
Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, Madison played football at Washington University in St. Louis. He was a first team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection during his senior year when the team was the co-conference champion. He received his B.A. in 1971 and an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater in 2019.

He started his broadcasting career in 1980 at Detroit’s WXYZ-AM radio station, and hosted daily talk shows on WRC, WOL and most recently on the Urban View channel of SiriusXM. He was always an advocate for social justice. He repeatedly said “I’m in the media, but I’m not a journalist, I’m an advocate and activist who has a talk show.” He spoke out against racial injustice, police shootings, and gentrification in minority neighborhoods. When listeners called in to report instances of racial injustice, he would ask them “What are you going to do about it?”

In the 1990s, he supported Marion Barry in his race for D.C. mayor after Barry served six months in prison for drug use. In 2001, he was arrested for handcuffing himself to the front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. to protest modern-day slavery in Sudan. In 2015, he set a world record for a timed-single broadcast on his SiriusXM show, when he broadcast for 52 consecutive hours to raise money for Washington’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. He participated in hunger strikes and in January,2022, he lost more than 30 pounds to protest attempts to block federal voting rights legislation. He called off a recent hunger strike when he learned that his prostate cancer, previously in remission, had spread.

Prostate Cancer
Virtually every man will develop prostate cancer if he lives long enough. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate and usually does not kill because it tends to stay in the prostate, with:

  • a 5-year relative survival rate of nearly 100 percent after diagnosis
  • a 10-year relative survival rate of 98 percent
  • a 15-year relative survival rate of 95 percent
    However, once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the average five-year survival rate is only 28 percent. The cancer is most likely to spread to bones first where it can cause severe pain and fractures. That is why bone strengtheners, such as bisphosphonates and denosumab, are usually given to patients whose prostate cancer has spread to bones.

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
An overactive immune system, called inflammation, may increase risk for prostate cancer (Cancers (Basel), 2023 Feb; 15(3): 630). An anti-inflammatory diet is associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer (Nutr Cancer, 2019;71(3):359-366). Your immune system is supposed to be good for you because it prevents germs from getting into your bloodstream and cells. Your immune system also seeks out and destroys the many defective cancer cells that your body produces every day. However, an immune system that stays active all the time (inflammation) can use its cells and proteins to attack and destroy the DNA in healthy cells, altering them so they try to live forever and become cancer cells that can overgrow, invade healthy tissue and kill you (Front Physiol, March 20, 2023;14:1119095).

  • A 10-year follow up study shows that men with prostate cancers that are most likely to kill them (Gleason scores 7-10) live longer when they adopt an anti-inflammatory diet (Int J Cancer, May 31, 2016).
  • Exercise helps to reduce inflammation and death from prostate cancer (American J of Physiology, August 2, 2023;325(2):C429-C442)
  • Men with both prostate cancer and diabetes (an inflammatory disease) die much earlier than those with prostate cancer without diabetes (J Diabetes Complications, May-Jun 2016;30(4):591-6).
  • People who eat a pro-inflammatory diet are at increased risk for many types of cancers (Eur J Nutr, Jan 29, 2016;29). Men who eat a pro-inflammatory diet are at markedly increased risk for developing prostate cancer (Br J Nutr, Jan 2015;113(2):278-83).
  • Eating red meat (which is pro-inflammatory) is associated with increased risk for breast cancer (Int J Cancer, Apr 2016;138(7):1609-18), while drinking alcohol, which is also pro-inflammatory, is associated with increased risk for breast cancer (J Natl Cancer Inst, Nov 2, 2005;97(21):1601-8).
  • People who follow anti-inflammatory cancer prevention guidelines can reduce all cancer incidence rates by 10 to 45 percent. They can also reduce risk of death from any cancer by 14 to 61 percent (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, July 2016).

Lessons from Joe Madison’s Prostate Cancer
To help prevent and treat inflammation that is associated with increased risk for prostate cancer:

  • Eat a plant-based diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole unground grains, beans, seeds and nuts.
  • Restrict mammal meat, processed meat, refined carbohydrates (foods made with flour), fried foods, lard, sugar-added foods, and all sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages
  • Try to exercise every day
  • Avoid being overweight
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Restrict or avoid alcohol

Most of the risk factors for prostate cancer are also risk factors for heart attacks. Every man should try to reduce his risk for both prostate cancer and heart attacks by decreasing his chances for inflammation with the anti-inflammatory lifestyle rules listed above.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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