Prop. 54 Hurts War on Cancer

October 3, 2003
by Rep. Lois Capps
Ventura County Star

Why are Chinese-Americans five times more likely to have liver cancer than other Americans? Why are Vietnamese-American women five times more likely to have cervical cancer? Why are cancer death rates disproportionately higher among Latinos and African-Americans than other Californians? If you can't answer those questions, you're not alone. Since President Nixon launched America's War on Cancer in 1971 medical researchers have struggled to understand why some of us are more likely to die of cancer than others. In the years since, we've made some headway and are beginning to understand the complex relationship between cancer and ethnicity. But those efforts, promising as they are, could stop dead in their tracks if Californians approve Proposition 54 on Tuesday... ...Recently, the Trust for America's Health studied how each state collects and uses cancer statistics. California was judged to be among the best in the nation. Our state earned particularly high marks for the quality and usefulness of the information it compiles. Would that still be the case if Proposition 54 became law? Not a chance. Dr. Shelley Hearne, the trust's executive director and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "There is no question that better understanding ethnic disparities in cancer rates will directly result in more lives saved." "There's no question that, under Proposition 54, California could go from being best to worst in the fight against cancer," she added.

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