Over the last 40 years the National Cancer Institute has spent over $90 billion on cancer research and treatment. Their annual budget is now about $5 billion per year. What has that bought us?

  • The number of new cancers each year is approximately 1.677 million.

  • The number of cancer deaths is about 35%.

  • The states with the highest rates per capita are Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

  • Lung cancer came in first for all these states.

  • Nationally, prostate and breast came in second and third.

  • The highest death rates were in the south; Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi – etc…

  • While the death rate from breast cancer is down, the rates for contracting breast cancer are up.

  • Black males have the highest rates of cancer

  • White females have a higher incidence rate than black females

So what does this all mean?

It means that progress has not measured up to the dollars spent. It means that early detection is the main reason for the decrease in death, but that research has done little to nothing to actually mitigate – cancer.

How are the research dollars spent?

At the National Cancer Institute, 4% of funding is designated for prevention.

The American Cancer Society has stated that its funding will be prioritized as follows:

  • tobacco control

  • nutrition and physical activity

  • colorectal cancer

  • breast cancer

  • survivorship and quality of life

  • access to care

I’m not exactly sure what ‘tobacco control’ entails. But the concept is that given black males have the highest incidence of cancer and lung cancer has the highest rates, controlling tobacco could lower the overall stats. How does one – control tobacco?

Since 1965, tobacco use in the US has declined from 42% to 20%. This does not reflect any cures, it simply presents the fact that as a result of less people smoking, lung cancer incidences are lower. Research did not contribute to this result. Awareness did. If we completely eliminated smoking, the incidence rate of lung cancer would parallel.

New studies on breast cancer are stumped on why this disease is affecting more and more young women. And now the reports indicate three potential causes; birth control pills, hormone additives to our food supply, and nutritional deficiencies. We have long known that estrogen therapy increases breast cancer risk. Now we know that messing with hormones at all – increases risk in the young and old. Growth hormones can be found in milk, chicken, eggs, dairy. These hormones alter the natural balance and are linked to cancer. Period.

Parabens are chemicals with estrogen like properties. Parabens are found in shampoo, lotion and makeup. These chemicals have been found in breast cancer tissue up to one million times what is normal. Chemicals accumulate in our body. Our body has no idea what to do with them and so it stores them – forever.

And while a product may contain a low amount of paraben and claim to have no effect, the issue is that MOST products contain paraben and the cumulation effect IS the problem. In addition, the rise of Breast Cancer IS the problem. The relationship between paraben and hormones and breast cancer IS the problem. So why risk it?

Prevention is the only course of action – CURE has done nothing.

Over 34% of the budget for American Cancer Society is spent on ‘fundraising’. Their CEO raked in nearly $800,000 in compensation. In 2010, compensation, travel and conferences accounted for 62% of the program and supporting services budget.

I fail to see how the actual expenditures here have much of anything to do with their ‘stated priorities’.

Susan B Komen. A little better; 15% of their budget goes to fundraising. 26% is directed for marketing. Salaries and compensation amount to 23.5%. 8.6% is spent on donor benefits. The CEO pay package was $684,000.

But the question remains – what is spent on ‘the cure’? It would seem that cancer research is simply a cheerleading squad. What has been cured? The race participation has dropped in some states by as much as 50%. What are we racing for? To pay higher salaries?

We talk about the banking crisis, the greed and such – but isn’t the banking industry simply the largest in an ever larger pool of what we have become?

This is not to say that all charities or all banks are not fulfilling their obligations. It is to say that research is necessary in order to evaluate who is truly an advocate. In the cancer industry the last two largest and most amazing innovations came from an engineer whose wife had contracted cancer, and an eighteen year old girl in High School. Their budget? Maybe a few hundred dollars. Their motivation? One thousand percent. The time it took them? Months.