NEW JERSEY STAR LEDGER
February 17, 2011)
BUDGET CUTS THREATEN CANCER BREAKTHROUGHS
By Robert Weiner, Patricia Berg and James Lewis
As the government keeps funding two wars and ongoing tax breaks, curing diseases like cancer is being threatened in the budget debates underway. In both the State of the Union and Budget Message, President Obama promised investment in biomedical research. However, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) just announced the draft House budget has a $1 Billion cut in NIH funding. As in New Jersey, where Governor Christie is making "hard choices", the nation is almost schizophrenic between cuts and necessary programs. With the economy still in crisis, the private sector does not have the ability to make up the difference.
Research cuts could mean ongoing cancer deaths. One in two men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime according to the National Cancer Institute. In 2010, there were 1.5 million new cancer cases and 570,000 deaths in the U.S. In just breast cancer alone, NCI estimated 209,060 new breast cancer patients and 40,230 deaths last year.
The good news is that thanks to successful laboratory research, a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer has now dropped 31 percent since 1989. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) told the National Press Club, "There is a direct line from NIH research to the life-span increases" in America. Despite these breakthroughs, the U.S. now ranks 49th in life expectancy, right above Taiwan, Kuwait, Cyprus, Cuba, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Just while such clear breakthroughs are being made--and with breast cancer still ranking as the number one fear for women -- now is no time to stop the train and cut funding.
New Jersey has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the country. According to the CDC, the state's breast cancer rate is 129.3 per 100,000 compared to the national rate of 120.4.