Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reduction in Cancer Deaths and Politics

The CDC issued a new release summarizing a published report, requiring what appears to be a substantial fee, strange for a taxpayer funded work. Yet the conclusions indicated a significant reduction in both incidence and mortality.

Specifically it states:

The Report to the Nation was first issued in 1998. In addition to drops in overall cancer mortality and incidence, this year's report also documents the second consecutive year of decreasing lung cancer mortality rates among women. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.

Colorectal cancer incidence rates also decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008.  Breast cancer incidence rates among women declined from 1999 through 2004 and plateaued from 2004 through 2008.  Incidence rates of some cancers, including pancreas, kidney, thyroid, liver, and melanoma, increased from 1999 through 2008. 

Melanoma has a long tail since most cases are sun induced but take substantial time to progress so that is not unexpected. Pancreas may very well be linked to obesity and the inflammatory response that results. What was once a rare form of cancer has seen a rate of increase paralleling the increase in obesity. The same may be true for renal carcinomas since they are well established as having linkages to Type 2 Diabetes as well as obesity. Thus the increases are most likely obesity linked.

The release continues:

“In the United States, 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese and fewer than half get enough physical activity,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “Between children and youth, 1 in 3 is overweight or obese, and fewer than 1 in 4 high school students get recommended levels of physical activity. Obesity and physical inactivity are critical problems facing all states. For people who do not smoke, excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity may be among the most important risk factors for cancer.” 

 We have been arguing this for years. We indicated the scope in our book on Health Care and our book on Obesity. The irony is that one of Romney's senior economic advisors rejected any Government attempts to control this epidemic while at the same time recommending a $1.00 a gallon added tax on gasoline. That approach is as bad as or worse than the current Administration's mess. But then again they are all filled with Harvard economists.

The fact is that technology can fix the gas problem but that people's behavior must be controlled to fix the cancer and other obesity related problems, just as those smoking related have been shown to have been fixed. We now have almost banned smoking everywhere, why not try that with obesity?