Friday, September 23, 2011

Recognizing a Global Threat

This past week, I traveled to New York City to attend a United Nations General Assembly meeting. More than 22 heads of state, including President Obama, were in the city as well. The security was incredible; police and barricades were everywhere, and I had to go through metal detectors and X-rays to enter my hotel. Having just recognized the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it was obviously that the impact of that terrible day will obviously be felt for decades, if not centuries, to come.

But it was another threat to our society that was discussed at this U.N. meeting – non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which were recognized as a threat to global health. Each year, NCDs kill 36 million people worldwide. This new focus on the threat of NCDs, which include cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, is critical to worldwide health.

The economic consequences of NCDs are staggering. Cumulative losses for low and middle income countries are estimated to surpass $7 trillion. Population-based measures such as reducing tobacco use through taxation and enacting clean indoor air laws, as well as reducing unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, could be delivered to these countries at a cost of about 40 cents per person per year. The same principles can be applied in the United States for about $3 per person per year. That’s a bargain if I ever saw one!

It is time for us to elevate prevention of these diseases to a new level. We owe it to ourselves to do so.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All Together Making a Difference

I have spoken many times about the importance of federal funding for cancer research, which is critical to our success in the fight against this disease. Today, the American Association for Cancer Research released a landmark report, the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2011, which is a call to action for the general public and lawmakers to intensify their efforts in supporting cancer and biomedical research.

The report highlights all the progress that we have made in the 40 years since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act on December 23, 1971. What used to be a death sentence is now, in many cases, a very manageable disease, as evidenced by the more than 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States today.

But there is still work to be done. In the United States alone, more than 570,000 people died from cancer in 2010. That's more than one person every minute of every day. And that is far too many.

I urge you to read the AACR report, which you can find here. I also encourage you to support cancer research by making a donation to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, where 100 percent of your money will go toward research, or by contacting your congressional representative and urging them to increase the government's support in the fight against cancer. It will take all of us working together to make a difference and beat this disease.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.