February 25, 2019
During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump called for $500 million over the next decade to fund research on childhood cancers. However, in a new opinion piece written for Environmental Health News, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Laura Vandenberg says the president's message lacked a necessary focus on prevention, and specifically on research to "understand and communicate the role that environmental exposures play in cancer risk."
Although childhood cancer mortality rates have dropped since the 1960s, incidence rates continue to increase. This highlights the importance of public health interventions and improvements in detection and diagnosis, as well as treatments resulting in improved quality of life for cancer patients and their likelihood of remission.
However, Vandenberg notes, hidden among these public health successes is a failure to identify the causes of cancer, particularly in relation to how environmental factors contribute to cancer risk. She concludes that a “failure to focus on prevention, a failure to acknowledge the role of the environment in causing cancer, and a failure to allocate funds to prevention research, are all failures for public health.”