Saturday, April 03, 2010

So what do we do about cancer?

Cancer has become a major concern worldwide. Billions of dollars have gone down the research river, but the results are only visible in developed countries. B&E’s Amir Moin argues that developing nations are the place where the battle has to be won

Cancer has been haunting human civilization for centuries. To begin with, the world’s oldest documented cancer case was recorded in Egypt and dates back to 1500 B.C. Cancer not only leads to loss of lives, but also results in major economic losses. The US basedNational Business Group on Health, representing 185 of the Fortune 500 firms and providing cover to more than 40 million workers estimated in a recent study that productivity loss for US firms resulting from smoking related diseases cost them $157 billion, even larger than the GDP of New Zealand. In fact, Purdue University’s Health Care Special Report takes the same even higher at $234 billion. This dirge is just the tip. The US Office of Technology & Assessment made an emphatic conclusion post a recent study that smokers, on an average, took 300% more sick leaves than non-smokers. Another research highlights strong evidence thatthe probability of smokers to become disabled exceeds their non-smoking counterparts by 600%! But the real eye-popper is the research report by Cappelli, Pauly & Lemaire of Wharton, which states that obese individuals have 30-50% more chronic medical problems than those who smoke or drink heavily! Researchers with the American Institute for Cancer Research looked at seven cancers with known links to obesity and calculated actual case counts that were likely to have been caused by obesity. The result- more than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat!

The world is coming together to stand up to cancer. But, according to a report released by the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, 27 million new cancer cases are expected by 2030 growing at a rate of 1% every year. Emerging economies such as India, China and Russia would be the worst hit. According to the report, around 1.3 billion people smoke globally, making tobacco the major avoidable cause of death and disease worldwide. Experts say that tobacco has killed 100 million people in the last century and will kill a billion in the 21st century. Harvard Medical School told B&E, “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. Although prostate cancer and breast cancer occur more commonly than lung cancer, lung cancer is a more fatal disease.”

Cancer no doubt has become a big issue. Infact, Harvard Medical School says that cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer kills one in four Americans and is the leading cause of death for women aged 40 to 79 and men aged 60 to 79. Society (common people and the scientific clan included) is doing all it can to spread awareness and at the same time fight this menace. At one end, you have cancer research institutes and the scientific community, working in order to make breakthroughs in the field of cancer cure. On the other hand we have NGOs and other non-profit organizations trying their level best to spread awareness about this deadly disease. For instance, Facebook went colourful a few days back. A strange yet unique – bra colour status updates – made its way into the network, but no one really knew how or why the what-colour-is-your-bra campaign took off. In case you are still confused and don’t see it, women were posting single word updates with the colour of their bra, hence the bombardment of ‘black’, ‘red’, and ‘nothing’ updates from your female friends. The colour update craze was started by women in Detroit who are trying to raise awareness around Breast Cancer. While all this was happening on the awareness front, scientists in Britain made a cancer breakthrough that could pave the way for tailor made treatment of breast tumours and revolutionize the way breast cancer is cured.
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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