Economic Interests and Lost Productivity

Writing to you from the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

The post on the Birth of the Perpetual Fundraising Industry prompted Anna, diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33, to ask a vital question. She writes:

“The vested interests in my continuing decline in health are staggering and frightening.

But if we’re talking about this from a economic perspective, here is my question. If all the people afflicted with breast (and other) cancers were magically cured, with no further treatment required, and were able to fully recover enough to go back to full-time work, would the commensurate increase in individual wealth, federal/state income taxes and the country’s overall productivity be enough to more than offset the loss of the pink profit centers for the corporates and health care industrials?

If the answer is yes then we might have a chance at getting somewhere in the fight to eradicate cancer for good. Are there any economic studies out there that you know of that address this question?”

We need some economists to study this question. However, there is some information that speaks to the issue.

According to a Cancer Trends Progress Report from the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer care in 2006 cost Americans $13.9 billion, and cost the country $12.1 billion (more than any other cancer).

In 2005, lost productivity due to cancer deaths was calculated to be $36 billion for lung cancer, $12.1 billion for breast cancer, and $10.7 billion for colon and rectal cancer.

According to the report, “using earnings to value lost productivity due to premature cancer deaths in the United States, mortality costs associated with an approximately 600,000 cancer deaths in 2005 are estimated to be $134.8 billion.”

And, this is lost productivity only due to deaths. There is no information in the report about time out of work for treatment and recovery.

In comparison, the National Institute of Health spends about $700 million per year on breast cancer research. And the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program has allocated about $2.5 billion to peer-reviewed research since 1992.

Is the overall loss of productivity enough to offset the loss of the pink profit centers? It might be a close call.

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2 comments to Economic Interests

  • And, this is lost productivity only due to deaths. There is no information in the report about time out of work for treatment and recovery.

    A complete calculation of lost productivity should also include time out of work by friends and family members who help the person with cancer with such tasks as transportation to chemotherapy treatments and childcare during said treatments (or while coping with nausea and fatigue induced by treatments), and so on.

  • To me this evidence alone, only reinforces the point that we need to stop with the color coded ribbons and popularity contests, and see the eradication of cancer as an integrated effort immune to the power of corporate greed and powerful lobbyists. For the good of the country, fighting cancer should not be a for-profit business !

To speak her truth, she needed to give her words and identity away, to a trusted poet and friend @stevedavenport breastcancerconsortium.net/ov…

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* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

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