Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer are a husband-and wife medical anthropology team, the co-authors of several groundbreaking and controversial health books, and the co-directors of the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease, located in Hawaii. They are internationally recognized for their revolutionary and shocking research linking breast cancer with the wearing of tight bras, which they describe in their book, Dressed To Kill.
Sydney was trained in biochemistry, anthropology and medicine. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of Utah in 1979. He then spent two years in the biochemistry Ph.D. program at Duke University, followed by another two years at Duke in the anthropology Ph.D. program, receiving a Master’s Degree. He then attended the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, Texas on a full academic scholarship, where he spent one year in the medical humanities Ph.D. program, and received an additional two years training in medical school. He left medical school to help develop a new field of applied medical anthropology.
Soma was awarded a B.A. degree in environmental studies from Sonoma State University in 1973, and had been a licensed optician from 1970-1982. From 1982 on, she has been a director of the Good Shepherd Foundation. Soma successfully spearheaded a voter initiative in California, the first in the country, banning the use of cruel and painful steel-jaw leghold traps. She also started a pre-school focusing on nature and animals, called Children’s Gardens, and has been a lobbyist promoting humane treatment of animals, anti-vivisection and anti-pound seizure laws. After meeting Sydney, Soma became involved in medical anthropology research and, with her husband, co-founded the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease.
The hallmark of Sydney and Soma’s work is that it empowers people to take responsibility for their own health by understanding how their attitudes and behaviors are leading to disease. This enables people to eliminate the harmful lifestyle causes of their problems, giving their bodies a chance to finally heal.
To discover for themselves, on themselves, which lifestyles are causing problems, Sydney and Soma recommends personal lifestyle experiments, called Self Studies. Since most health problems are culture caused, this approach is extremely effective, especially for chronic diseases. It addresses the cause and not just the symptoms.
In addition to the link between breast cancer and bras, research at the Institute has discovered the cultural causes of migraines, Alzheimer’s, stroke, sleep apnea, glaucoma, thyroid disease, obesity, diabetes, and more. Amazingly, these problems may be prevented, and cured, at no cost by simply altering one’s lifestyle. The problem is that people are so conditioned to living the way the culture has taught them that they have no idea of what they are doing to themselves.
In 1990, while in medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Sydney wrote a pamphlet describing his experiences in trying to get an exemption from the dog labs. Entitled, Challenging Animal Labs and Winning: Respect for Compassion in Medical School, it was published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Sydney ultimately was given an exemption from the dog labs after threatening a lawsuit, but the reliance of medicine on vivisection and what he perceived as a lack of training in disease prevention turned him off to the medical profession.
After Syd took a leave of absence from medical school, he and Soma went to Fiji to do some fieldwork, at which time Soma discovered a lump in her breast. This began their work into breast disease and cancer, and resulting in their 1991-93 Bra and Breast Cancer Study, performed in the U.S., that is described in detail in their book, Dressed To Kill, release in 1995 by Avery Publishing Group.
Syd and Soma returned to Fiji to do follow-up research on bras and breast cancer in a culture where about half the women are bra-free. They then published a sequel to Dressed To Kill, entitled, Get It Off! Understanding the Cause of Breast Pain, Cysts, and Cancer, in which they discuss the cultural issues relating to breasts and bras. The book includes, “A Little Breast Play” to illustrate the cultural issues involved. This play has been adapted to music by composer Leonard Lehrman, Ph.D., and renamed “The Booby Trap”, and was performed at various venues, including a debut at The Golden Fleece, Ltd, Theater 22 on May, 13, 2001.
Syd and Soma teamed up with the late conceptual artist Ron Nicolino in 1998 to produce the National Bra Tapestry, which was to consist of 40,000 bras woven into an image of the Statue of Liberty and to be presented to then president Clinton to encourage research into the bra/cancer link. The tapestry was never completed despite international support for the Tapestry because of media suppression of the bra/cancer link.
In addition to their breast cancer research, Syd and Soma also have done research on sleep position and its relationship to disease, which they published in their book, Get It Up! Revealing the Simple, Surprising Lifestyle that Causes Migraines, Alzheimer’s, Stroke, Glaucoma, Sleep Apnea, Impotence, and More!, (ISCD Press, 2002).
Other research by Syd and Soma is described in their book, Get It Out! Eliminating the Cause of Diverticulitis, Kidney Stones, Bladder Infections, Prostate Enlargement, Menopausal Discomfort, Cervical Dysplasia, PMS, and More (ISCD Press, 2002).
In their book, The Doctor Is Out! Exposing the High Blood Pressure, Low Thyroid and Diabetes Scams (ISCD Press, 2002), Syd and Soma describe how certain medical conditions are used as excuses by medicine for instituting lifetime medication.
In addition to their applied medical anthropology work, Syd and Soma have become involved in numerous environmental and animal issues, especially in Hawaii. They have opposed invasive species efforts to kill the introduced coqui tree frog, and started the website, www.HawaiianCoqui.org. They also wrote, Panic in Paradise: Invasive Species Hysteria and the Hawaiian Coqui Frog War (ISCD Press, 2005), and Syd was a speaker at the PIELC (Public Interest Environmental Law Conference) conference at the University of Oregon about invasive species issues.
Syd and Soma have also publicly opposed the Hawaii and Federal governments’ proposed release of a scale insect as biological control against the strawberry guava tree, and created the websites www.SaveTheGuava.com and www.Biodamage.com. They have also opposed the poisoning of mangrove trees along the Hawaii Island shoreline, and Syd took the issue to court, described on the website www.MangroveLawsuit.com
Syd and Soma currently live in Hawaii, on a rainforest preserve, which is a sanctuary for the coqui frog and other introduced species, as well as a model of sustainability, where they grow their own food, and produce their own energy, and perform lifestyle research on various culture caused diseases.