The National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council recently announced the release of the National Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive plan that will help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. The National Prevention Strategy (pdf 1.8MB) recognizes that good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from clean air and water, safe outdoor spaces for physical activity, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments and healthy homes. Prevention should be woven into all aspects of our lives, including where and how we live, learn, work and play.
Finding strategies to help prevent cancer is a big part of improving the health and wellness of Americans. Cancer is a major public health problem in the United States and many other parts of the world. Currently, one in 4 deaths in the United States is due to cancer. Newly published statistics from the American Cancer Society show that cancer death rates in the U.S. continue to decrease, but that cancer death rates for the least educated segment of the population are 2 ½ times higher than for the most educated.
The annual report, "Cancer Statistics, 2011," published in the American Cancer Society’s journal, and its companion piece "Cancer Facts & Figures 2011," estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the U.S. this year.
Dr. Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, talks about the significance of the new statistics.
As Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society, said on his blog
"We have been hearing for the past several weeks about the things that could cause cancer. We have been inundated with media reports telling us what is bad for us and perhaps not so good for us. We have started a national conversation about cell phones, airport scanners and now Styrofoam and formaldehyde.He quotes Dr. Samuel Broder, former director of the National Cancer Institute -
POVERTY IS A CARCINOGEN
Some highlights of the report "Cancer Facts & Figures 2011"
A total of 1,596,670 new cancer cases and 571,950 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the U.S. in 2011. Between 1990 and 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, overall death rates decreased by about 22% in men and 14% in women. This translates to about 898,000 deaths from cancer that were avoided. The American Cancer Society credits improvements in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.
"The nearly 900,000 cancer deaths avoided over a 17-year period stand in stark contrast to the repeated claim that cancer death rates have not budged," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D. , chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. "Nonetheless, we refuse to be satisfied, and are committed to doing whatever it takes, not only to ensure cancer death rates continue to drop, but to accelerate the decline."
Highlights of the "Cancer Statistics, 2011" report include
The reports feature a Special Section on the impact of eliminating disparities on cancer deaths. Level of education is often used as a marker of socioeconomic status. In 2007, cancer death rates in the least educated segment of the population were 2.6 times higher than those in the most educated. This disparity was largest for lung cancer, for which the death rate was five times higher in the least educated than for the most educated. Differences in lung cancer death rates reflect the striking gradient in smoking prevalence by level of education; 31% of men with 12 or fewer years of education are current smokers, compared to 12% of college graduates and 5% of men with graduate degrees.
The special section also estimated the numbers of potential premature cancer deaths that could be avoided in the absence of socioeconomic and/or racial disparities. If all adults ages 25 to 64 in the United States in 2007 had the cancer death rate of the most educated non-Hispanic whites, 37% --or 60,370 out of 164,190—premature cancer deaths could potentially have been avoided. For African Americans, closing the gap between death rates among the most and least educated could potentially avert twice as many premature cancer deaths as eliminating racial disparities between blacks and whites, underscoring the preponderance of poverty in cancer disparities across all segments of the population.
Reducing cancer disparities will require breaking down barriers to health promotion and wellness care. As these reports have shown, there are thousands of cancer deaths that could be avoided by eliminating economic and racial disparities. Socio-economic status is the primary driver to the high death rate among different races. Poverty and low levels of education are prime factors in higher death rates from cancer. This years reports reinforce the truth
POVERTY IS A CARCINOGEN