Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2 links to cancer – nutrition and exercise: what can be done to expand the war on cancer?

This blog entry was contributed by Robb Hughes, director of finance and operations at Stinson Brand Innovation.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer. But even today, cancer still has the upper hand – as the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., with nearly 562,000 casualties annually,

According to a new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the past 40-year war against cancer has only reduced death rates by 16%. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, the costs have more than doubled since 1990 - this despite a $100 billion dollar investment by the government in research. With inflation, the costs to fight “the war” have increased to $90 billion per year with some patients paying as much as $100k per year for drugs like Roche’s Avastin and Lilly’s Erbitux. The reduction in deaths have been attributed to anti-smoking campaigns, better disease detection, and also those expensive drugs.

With obesity on the rise, and 30-35% of cancers attributed to nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity, mortality rates may not trend in the right direction any time soon.

If anti-smoking campaigns made a good dent in the mortality rate, I wonder if awareness campaigns linking nutrition and lack of exercise to cancer might have a similar effect.

Who would pay for it though?

Is there incentive for pharma companies to invest in “diet and exercise” campaigns? And so long as we have a multi-payer system, would insurance companies take such a long-term outlook and make the investment.

What are your thoughts?  How could this be done?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robb -- nice post. I think the "war" starts early. That's why I like what Jennifer LaRue Huget wrote in the Washington Post a while back. . .

Michelle Obama's obesity plan, in the Nick of time

The nutrition world is all atwitter over First Lady Michelle Obama's new campaign to combat child obesity. It's a major effort and her pet topic. But it's always hard to judge whether ambitious programs such as the one she spelled out today will seep sufficiently into Americans' day-to-day lives to make a dent in the obesity epidemic.

The new "Let's Move" initiative aims to improve school nutrition programs, help parents get a better handle on choosing healthful foods for their families, bolster school- and community-based opportunities for physical activity, and eliminate "food deserts", areas where people lack access to decent grocery stores. Some of what's included was already in the works -- revamping the Food Pyramid, for instance, is a logical extension of the ongoing revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The FDA had already said it was going to push for a universal front-of-package food labeling system and Congress has had reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act on its to-do list since the act expired last fall.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the initiative is the support of the new Partnership for a Healthier America, also announced today, and the broader collaboration Obama has in mind. Rather than having government dictate all the specifics, her program calls for bringing together players from the public and private, for-profit and non-profit worlds to come up with solutions. And so far, so good: Since this morning's announcement, I've received a number of press notices from organizations saying they've proudly joined the cause.

It's great to see the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Medical Association's on board. But it's better still to see that Nickelodeon has pledged to lend a hand.

Let the doctors and politicians do what they will to curb childhood obesity in this generation, the campaign's goal. But if you want kids to buy into that effort, it's good to have the likes of Nick in your corner.

For more on Michelle Obama's plan to fight childhood obesity, see the Post's Special Report. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2010/02/08/LI2010020801956.html