As cancer rates rise, national advocacy group calls for 'investment that works'

    OTTAWA, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - A national advocacy group focused on
eliminating the preventable causes of cancer says Canadians should be getting
a better return on their cancer investment. The call comes on the heels of the
Canadian Cancer Society's announcement of $22 million in research funding. The
Society has committed to spending $3 million on prevention this year, which
represents about 6 per cent of their research spending, based on last year's
total of almost $50 million.
    Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) says that, while that is a step in the right
direction, to effectively combat soaring cancer rates, public funding for
primary prevention must be increased to half the total dollars spent. "Less
than two per cent of the $400 million in research dollars spent in Canada are
directed to primary prevention(1)," said Diana Daghofer, PCN's chair. "Public
funding for primary prevention of cancer should be increased to 50 per cent of
the total dollars spent, both on research and in putting our current knowledge
about prevention into action."
    The Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 report, released in April, showed
that despite substantial dollars spent, the incidence and deaths due to cancer
continue to rise. According to the report, each week this year, 3,300
Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,450 will die of the disease. The
report estimates that 171,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year
in Canada, up 4,600 from last year. About 75,300 people will die from cancer
in 2009, up 1,500 from 2008.
    Most disturbing, is that cancer rates continue to rise among teens and
young adults in Canada, particularly among young women, aged 15 to 29, with
new diagnoses increasing by about 1.4 per cent a year. The increase among
young men in that age group is just under one per cent a year.
    The Canadian Cancer Statistics report contends that there is "limited
opportunity for prevention as currently there is limited information about
risk factors for cancers that are common in young people." This is not
surprising, given the scant attention given to primary prevention. According
to Daghofer, "We hear a lot about the increased cancer risk caused by smoking,
obesity, lack of exercise and sun exposure. We hear very little about the fact
that cancer is caused by radiation, toxic chemicals such as benzene, and
hormone disrupters - those chemicals in pesticides, plastics and
pharmaceuticals that cause cancers of the breast, prostate and testicles."
    Prevent Cancer Now agrees with the Canadian Cancer Society that at least
50 per cent of cancers can be prevented. The focus needs to shift to putting
resources into primary prevention.
    "Canadians should be getting a much better return on their cancer
fighting investment," Daghofer said. "This is our money, the money we donate
either directly or pay through our taxes. We should be demanding a much better
return - the kind of return we can only get through prevention. It is time to
stop focusing on the sale of false hope and start focusing on action that will
make a difference. Cancer rates will only decline when the primary prevention
of cancer is taken seriously."

    (1) Canadian Cancer Research Alliance, Cancer Research Investment in
        Canada, 2006

For further information:

For further information: Diana Daghofer, Rossland, British Columbia,
(250) 362-5810

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