September 20, 2011
There are few times in life when one gets to watch history being made. Today is one of those times.
I am in New York with a number of colleagues from the American Cancer Society and other committed organizations to observe a UN High Level Meeting which will--at long last--put non-communicable diseases on the international agenda. The impact of the decisions made here over the next two days can indeed change the face of global health forever. More...
June 17, 2011
"Poverty is a carcinogen."
Those were the words of Dr. Samuel Broder when he was director of the National Cancer Institute in 1989.
As amply documented in the annual "Cancer Facts and Figures 2011" released today by the American Cancer Society, cancer shows that poverty remains one of the most potent a carcinogen-rivaling tobacco and obesity-as we have ever seen.
We have heard lots and lots about how cell phones and Styrofoam cause cancer. But do you hear anyone talking about the huge impact of poverty and limited education on cancer?
If you don't hear anything about a true carcinogen that statistics show causes 37% of the deaths from cancer in people between the ages of 27 and 64, then maybe you have the answer to a very important question: If we are serious about reducing the burden and suffering from cancer, why aren't we paying attention to those most in need? More...
June 15, 2011
That is a number I want you to think about. And as you think about it, consider the implications for your health, your wallet and your state budget.
$10.28 is the amount of money it costs for the health and economic consequences of smoking a pack of cigarettes. Yes, that's right: our economy and our health care gets dinged $10.28 for each pack that someone smokes, every day, 365 days a year, for however many years. That's a lot of money.
Who pays that cost?
We all pay those costs in salaries and wages (the money that is lost in productivity, health insurance premiums, etc) that we would otherwise have for investment in business or improved wages for workers. We all pay those costs in higher taxes it costs our state and federal governments to provide health care and other benefits for caring for those unfortunate folks who suffer from the debilitating effects of smoking.
More important than the money, however, is how much we "pay" in personal "costs" when someone we love or someone we know dies as a result of tobacco, a product that when used as intended will kill half of its users.
All of this and more is contained in a report issued this afternoon by the American Cancer Society's advocacy affiliate American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).More...
May 23, 2011
Sometimes you just have to connect the dots to understand the world around us. And sometimes the picture those dots paint isn't one that is particularly nice.
I am beyond amazed that otherwise normal, clear thinking people can turn a blind eye to the harms of tobacco when it is their turn to make some extra money.
The case in point is the attitude that Wall Street has about investing in tobacco companies as a good way to make a buck. In fact, tobacco stocks are right up there on the investment list when it comes to "widows and orphans" stocks. Those are the stocks you want to be invested in because they are safe, generally do well in recessionary times, and actually pay a dividend that is real money.
What has set me off this time is a brief commentary in a business journal called Barron's, where a columnist I read regularly (and respect) made some comments this week about the outstanding profitability of a tobacco company that is known for their commitment to menthol cigarettes. More...
May 12, 2011
I used that word once before back in January 2008 when I wrote a blog about the (then) new CEO of Philip Morris International (PMI). His name is Louis Camilleri, and he was the subject of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal talking about the spin-off of PMI from Philip Morris US so they could more easily sell their toxic products worldwide.
I called him the next generation of a merchant of death, seeming to relish the opportunity to make big money marketing deadly cigarettes to then fertile markets around the globe.
Well, Mr. Camilleri has surfaced again-this time making the outrageous comment that "tobacco is not that hard to quit."
You have to be kidding. Cigarettes are incredibly addictive, and heavy smokers have a very difficult time quitting. Our statistics in this country show that for the most part our ability nationwide to reduce the number of chronic smokers has hit a roadblock. More...
April 22, 2011
There's a lot we know about what could be done to improve the health of the public. At the same time, there is a lot we can't seem to get done when it comes to improving the health of the public.
Against that somewhat pessimistic background, the report that came out today about the success of indoor smoking laws in the United States over the past decade serves as an outstanding example of what can be done when people make up their minds that they are going to do something positive to improve their personal health and the health of their country.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that the long-term impact over decades of what has been accomplished to reduce smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke in this country over the past 10 years rivals some of the great public health accomplishments in this country. Yes, my friends, it is that significant. More...
March 22, 2011
Know what a "dilly" is? The dictionary describes a "dilly" as something that is remarkable or extraordinary, as in size or quality.
The headline I came across the other day from the Associated Press story is in fact a dilly of a story. It has some of my colleagues here at the American Cancer Society and our affiliated advocacy organization American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network more than a bit concerned: "NH, RI, NJ Buck Trend, Propose Cigarette Tax Cut."
Hard to believe, but after years of making progress in the fight against big tobacco and helping people to kick the habit or prevent young people from taking up smoking in the first place, now come proposals that would take us backwards, putting more people at risk for their lives all in the name of economic recovery.
Folks, in my humble opinion, this is one screwed-up way for states to make money. More...
March 10, 2011
An article just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their weekly publication "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" provides an assessment of the progress we have made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Clearly, since 1971, we have made substantial advances in the cancer treatment. We have become a larger and older nation. We have pushed the threshold for the diagnosis of cancer, with breast and prostate cancers as leading examples.
The result is that we have many millions more people alive with cancer today than was ever the case in our history.
But with the progress also comes cautions about what the data means, and where our journey must go if we are to address some of the key issues reflected in these statistics. More...
January 25, 2011
Remember the old Nat King Cole Song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"? Well, if you live in an apartment or condominium, that smoke not only gets into your children's eyes, it gets into their lungs and bodies as well. And that's not a good thing.
A recent report in the journal Pediatrics makes it pretty clear that a high percentage of kids who live in apartment--and in fact kids who live in other environments as well where people don't smoke inside the home--have evidence in their blood tests that many of them are exposed to the byproducts of tobacco smoke. And according to the researchers, it's enough to make them sick--and will probably make you sick as well when you learn about the problem. More...
January 24, 2011
An article published this afternoon in the Archives Internal Medicine sheds some interesting light on the ongoing question of whether or not cigarette smoking increases the risk of breast cancer. And guess what? According to this research, for some women the answer is yes, for others no and for some-believe it or not-the risk of breast cancer may be decreased.
That smoking could actually decrease the risk of breast cancer is one of those "believe it or not" moments in evidence-based medicine, but I wouldn't go around cheering that smoking is good for your health. It isn't, and nothing about the findings in this study should change anyone's opinions about the risks of tobacco. More...