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October 2, 2012

News and Tribune letters: Oct. 2, 2012

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> SOUTHERN INDIANA — How does Indiana measure up in fighting cancer?

If everyone were to stop smoking, get cancer screenings, eat well, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight, we could prevent roughly half of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Lawmakers play a crucial role in the fight against cancer by passing laws that helps reduce the disease’s damage, which will claim about 570,000 lives in the United States this year alone.

Unfortunately, Indiana is falling short on legislative efforts to combat cancer, according to a recent report by American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The report evaluates each state’s legislative activity on seven issues that are key to fighting cancer: breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding; colorectal screening coverage laws; smoke-free laws; funding for tobacco prevention; tobacco taxes; tanning bed bans for minors; and access to palliative care. Indiana only measured up in two of these seven critical benchmarks.

To prevent and fight the devastating effects of cancer, Indiana lawmakers need to increase funding for breast and cervical cancer early detection programs and  tobacco prevention.

As advocates, we have a duty to educate the public on the many ways to prevent and fight cancer, but state and local policymakers must take action. Even in a year consumed by budget shortfalls and legislative challenges, we cannot miss opportunities to enact laws and policies that could save money and generate revenue, and most importantly, save lives.

— Mary Kost, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, New Albany

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