Cancer, Kids and Diet
Written by Robyn O’Brien
This morning started with an email from a mother whose daughter is battling cancer.
I’d had the honor of meeting this mom last month in California. When she shared her journey about her daughter’s cancer and how everything that she had recently learned had challenged not only her belief that “those packaged foods with pictures of babies and farms were possibly not safe” but also had challenged her belief system, I’d thought, “She is just like me.”
So when she emailed this morning to share that “a tumor was located in our warrior princess’ little body and the roller coaster has once again began,” my heart ached for her, for every parent battling pediatric cancer and for those praying that their children will never get it.
Today, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in the United States for children under the age of fifteen, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Every minute, at least one American dies from cancer, and according to the American Cancer Society, one out of every two men and one out of every three women are expected to get cancer in their lifetime.
In 2009, cancer cost the nation as much as $243.4 billion. That’s close to $700 dollars per person. And over half of that, $124.8 billion, is the cost of lost productivity due to premature death. Sadly, those premature deaths are increasingly being seen in children.
When President Nixon declared a war on cancer over thirty years ago, did he expect it to look like this?
Today it is reported that expensive new drugs that are used to treat the increasing numbers of patients could drive drug spending in the United States by to increase by 34-43% by 2013, according to Pharma Times. But because of the burden that this disease is placing on our health care system, as recently highlighted in an article by two oncologists titled, “Bending the Cost Curve of Cancer” and seen in the New England Journal of Medicine, shouldn’t we do a better job of exercising precaution as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Presidents Cancer Panel have recently suggested?
Recent estimates suggest that this accelerated rate of cancer diagnosis will make oncology treatments the second largest category for US drug spending by 2015, rivaled only by diabetes, according to the latest annual Drug Trend Report produced by leading pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Medco Health Solution.
And as the mother who emailed this morning – and countless others who have reached out – can attest, this diagnosis, these oncology treatments and this drug spending is increasingly happening to our children.
As mounting scientific evidence points to the important role that nutrition can play in preventing disease (as Dr. Andrew Weil highlights with these Eight Steps for Preventing Cancer Via Diet), perhaps its time that we enlist diet on the frontlines in our “war on cancer.”
In light of the comments made by oncologists in the New England Journal of Medicine and the increasing number of children with pediatric cancer, the health of our economy, our country and our children just might depend on it.
To learn more about ways to protect your family and the health of your children, please visit:
Cancer Statistics 2010, which was published online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Cancer Among Infants http://seer.cancer.gov/publications/childhood/infant.pdf