139th National Cancer Advisory Board
against cancer and that more work is needed among the 8,500 or so cancer foundations to be one voice for the purpose of educating philanthropic organizations and the public about cancer issues. She commended the NCI for going beyond the critical funding issues and addressing other obstacles such as access to tissue, how to work with the biotechnology industry to bring their drugs to patients more quickly, and legal issues associated with intellectual property (IP) and getting discoveries into the public domain. She asserted the importance of speaking with a unified voice against all obstacles to drug development and achieving better patient outcomes. Dr. Anna Barker, Deputy Director for Advanced Technologies and Strategic Partnerships, OD, affirmed the needs and difficulties identified by Ms. Giusti. She cited her 4 years of work in the biospecimen area and the fact that guidelines for specimen collection and access are becoming a reality only now. She pointed out that science and policy have merged and that scientists have not stepped into that arena to inform policy, so they are facing obstacles such as the need for genetic privacy laws. She expressed the view that advocacy groups are taking a leadership role that will inform and enable science in the future.
PRESIDENT’S CANCER PANEL—DR. LASALLE LEFFALL, JR.
On behalf of members Dr. Margaret Kripke and Mr. Lance Armstrong, Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., Chair, President’s Cancer Panel, and Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery, Howard University College of Medicine, congratulated Drs. Niederhuber and Runowicz on their recent appointments and articulated the Panel’s desire to continue to work closely with them. He reported that the Panel has been working since the June meeting to prepare for the upcoming series of meetings entitled “Promoting Healthy Lifestyles to Reduce the Risk of Cancer.” This 2006-2007 series of meetings will focus on ways to reduce cancer incidence and mortality through the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Areas of particular interest will include the impact of tobacco use, environmental tobacco smoke, obesity and overweight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet on cancer risk. Dr. Leffall stated that, in this series, the Panel will be seeking the views of a wide range of invited participants that will include government officials, state and local public health officials, academic and institution representatives and scientists, practitioners, community-based organizations, private industry representatives, advocates, and consumers.
At the first meeting at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center on September 11, 2006, the Panel will explore current research on obesity, physical activity, and nutrition as well as learn about current programs in these areas relevant to reducing the risk of cancer. Areas of particular interest will include: (1) ongoing research and identification of knowledge gaps; (2) the influence of culture, geography, and community structure on lifestyle choices and behaviors; (3) the impact of technology advances on lifestyle and activity levels; (4) economic costs associated with unhealthy lifestyles; and (5) potential policy changes and implementation strategies. Other meetings in the series include another meeting on obesity, physical activity, and nutrition and two meetings on issues related to the impact of tobacco use and environmental tobacco smoke on cancer risk.
Dr. Leffall presented background information related to the 2006-2007 series, noting that new research continues to increase understanding and awareness of the issues created by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Current statistics indicate that this year the percentage of obese adults increased in all states but Nevada. The opportunity to achieve tangible results through research and prevention activities in this area is significant. Some believe that the next biggest threat facing the developed world is the growing epidemic of obesity. According to a 2003 New England Journal of Medicine article, current patterns of obesity and overweight conditions in the U.S. population could account for up to 14 percent of all cancer deaths in adult men and 20 percent in adult women. A recent study published by two economists from Emory University revealed that the rate of obesity among Medicare patients doubled from 1987 to 2002 and health care spending on those individuals more than doubled. Other recent studies have added obesity and physical inactivity to the list of factors that increase cancer risk.