February 4, National Cancer Prevention Day 2016, was observed on Capitol Hill with cancer prevention experts and legislators, students and others in a program sponsored by Less Cancer. As I reflect on this monumental day, I realize that cancer prevention must be more than an idea, but rather real world action that saves lives and prevents the many types of suffering that come with both the disease and its treatment.
Our recipe for less cancer is straightforward and focused. Our core activity is to educate the public about where cancers come from and how they can be prevented, so they can make informed decisions. We also work to educate policy makers so they can, in turn, protect the public. Another part of our focus is that we carefully vet all of our corporate sponsors, so that we are in no way associated with companies that may be contributing to the very cancer-causing activities we are fighting.
Education includes everything from alerting people to the dangers of indoor tanning and e-cigarettes, to harmful and cancer causing chemicals that can be found in consumer products. As an organization we are committed to seeing regulation that protects consumers from those toxins. We also would like to see the regulation of e-cigarettes for their potential to hook the next generation on tobacco. Growing evidence about e-cigarettes and their health risks shows that we need to do all we can to prevent any potential use of tobacco, responsible for over480,000 deaths per year in the United States.
Our commitment going forward is to raise the bar on human health in lifestyles and clean environments. This year we joined forces with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for a social media program called the #9minutemeal to promote quick and healthy recipes that can be made at home as a way of engaging Americans in reducing cancer risk.
National Cancer Prevention Day first came about through a House of Representatives resolution on February 4, 2013, which states that work to prevent cancer impacts human health, the environment, and the economy.
The Resolution was first introduced by Representative Steve Israel, Co-Chair of the House Cancer Caucus.
At the time Steve Israel said,
“There are far too many who have been touched by cancer, both directly or indirectly. Today on National Cancer Prevention Day, we commit ourselves to prevention and reducing our risks as much as possible through healthy lifestyles and clean environments. Less Cancer has been a true partner in this fight, and I applaud them for that.”
We honor Representative Israel for his vision and his commitment to protecting the public.
Progress in prevention is happening across the United States and will continue.
This past year, physician and author of A World Without Cancer and Less Cancer board member Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo initiated and helped to establish the first-ever Cancer Prevention Summit of New York, possibly the first summit of its kind in the nation on a statewide level. Dr. Cuomo’s home state of New York is doing cutting-edge work to protect public health. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has supported the passage of the Child Safe Products Bill. In November of 2015, the Governor signed into law a bill protecting nail salon workers from potentially dangerous chemicals. He also supports legislation that would require regulation of a broader list of consumer products affecting adults and children in New York. Governor Cuomo recognizes that the federal TSCA Act is outdated and ineffective and that consumers deserve protection from chemicals that increase their risk of cancer and other diseases.
The work continues in places like New Hampshire, where Less Cancer chairman and founding board member, Tom Sherman, M.D. provides his expertise as a doctor and a legislator, and who last year went to bat to teach peers in New Hampshire about the risks of indoor tanning. Now, tanning beds in New Hampshire are banned to minors.
Since the founding of National Cancer Prevention Day, it has developed into a critical national forum, attracting the best leading experts connecting science with policy for action. For these last years, Dr. Cuomo has given her time, talent and expertise as moderator of the panel and as curator of medical and scientific content. She meticulously researches the evidence on cancer prevention to ensure we bring the most accurate science to Capitol Hill. National Cancer Prevention Day has been critical in educating legislators and the general public in reducing cancer risk.
As part of this process, the work continues on the national level as well. I am excited that Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, in support of the work of Less Cancer, founded the U. S. Bipartisan Cancer Prevention Caucus, which is Co-chaired by Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. The first Cancer Prevention Caucus was held on February 3. I look forward to working with the Caucus so we may better help Americans reduce cancer risk.
Less Cancer’s efforts to protect the public is unlike any other organization. We represent those who have suffered many losses from cancer. We strive to prevent cancer today and for future generations.