Cancer Moonshot Fails to Address Environmental Factors

By Stel Bailey Fight for Zero staff
Published Sept. 12, 2022

Cancer Moonshot Fails to Address Environmental Factors

Over fifty years ago, United States President Nixon declared war on cancer and sought to eradicate cancer as a major cause of death by signing the National Cancer Act into Law. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the leading cause of death, followed by strokes and diseases of the arteries and veins. Nixon promised over 1 billion dollars for cancer research and a cure by the nation's 1976 bicentennial. 

Cancer is now the second leading cause of death, followed by COVID-19. Breast cancer diagnoses have risen, and there is still no cure for cancer. The death rate from cancer has fallen only 5% since 1950, which could be attributed to the decline of smoking and awareness of lifestyle and diet impacts on health. Not to mention that mortality statistics could be wrong when most death certificates record the underlying cause of death, which can be complications from cancer, such as organ failure.

Although significant strides have been made in awareness of new therapies, diagnostics, and the discovery of cancer-causing genetic mutations, research on environmental factors isn't supported. 

Many people are surprised to learn that 80% of all cancers are not due to an inherited gene mutation (change). Most gene changes are not shared among relatives or passed on to children. If cancer doesn't run in your family, you can still be at risk for some type of cancer. Only a small portion of all cancers are inherited.

Things like lifestyle and environmental toxins can influence whether or not a gene expression is turned on or off. That's why prevention is so important. Genes are not the only deciding factor for whether or not we will develop certain diseases. Gaining weight, how you live, exposure to chemicals, what you eat, and stress can influence those genes.

"Cancer Moonshot" aims to end cancer by providing over a billion dollars to more research and drug companies. This effort began in 2016, the same year federal legislation was passed to investigate suspected cancer clusters called Trevor's Law, but the Law has never been implemented. 

The Law was created to develop criteria to monitor, track, and respond to potential childhood cancer clusters in the United States. Gathering imperative data on such clusters, where they exist, and who they might affect would play a key role in helping decrease cancer risk caused by environmental exposures. 

Cancer treatments may prolong lives, but it also diminishes the quality of life with lifelong side effects, secondary cancers, and immune issues. 

Much money has been directed toward developing drugs that focus on the quantity of life, not quality. Cancer therapies have become profitable for the pharmaceutical industry as drugs have increased by nearly 60%. When we talk about prevention, this includes challenging discussions such as reforming healthcare, as many people in America cannot afford to be healthy, and the system is broken. We don't take a proactive approach to health; it's always reactionary and costly. 

Some measures can be taken to decrease cancer risks, like lifestyle choices, diet, and certain carcinogenic viruses, but when it comes to harmful pollution, many communities aren't even aware they are being exposed. Innocent people and wildlife across the nation are experiencing the side effects of pollution, and until human life takes precedence over profit, people will continue to suffer. 

Sources and Additional Reading: 

Cancer Prevention from MAYO:

Cause of cancer in the world:

National Library of Medicine: 

Prescription Drug Expenditure:

Trevor's Trek Foundation:

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