While cancer care if becoming more sophisticated and personalized, deaths from preventable disease continue to plague not just the U.S. but populations worldwide. Half of all cancer deaths are avoidable by reducing exposure to the sun, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. One third of cancer deaths in the U.S. is caused by tobacco, and another third are associated with obesity, a still emerging risk factor for cancer that much of the public has yet to appreciate. Why can’t the U.S. take the lead in the fight against unhealthy lifestyles.
The decline in cancer deaths is partly due to new drugs that are finally reaching the market after decades of research and development, according to researchers at the AACR. However, even with these new drugs [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]studies have linked obesity to a higher risk of developing esophageal, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, pancreatic and breast cancers.[/inlinetweet] Hormonal changes, as well as agents released by fat tissue can create fertile conditions for inflammation, a process that accelerates the cancer process.
The American Medical Association has recently deemed obesity to be a disease. The rise in obesity rates is expected to increase America’s already high healthcare costs. According to the AMA, all states across the U.S. could have obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030. The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate, and the negative effects and results of obesity—including diabetes, heart conditions, and an increase in healthcare costs—are going to grow unless something is done to change it.
The Obesity Epidemic:
Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans According to the Center for Disease Control, more than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are currently obese, and no state has an obesity rate that is less than 20 percent. These numbers have continued to rise in recent decades. In 1990, no state had an obesity rate higher than 15 percent, and 10 states had an obesity rate lower than 10 percent. With the increase of these numbers, it is no surprise that the majority of the nation feels they could lose weight. According to The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans, 78 percent of Americans said they could benefit from losing weight right now, and more than half of all Americans (52 percent) currently describe their weight as overweight or obese. The number grows when looking at obesity from the providers’ side, as 97 percent of providers reported that many of their patients could do a better job of managing their weight. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼44% 2030 Projected National Obesity Rate ￼.
The Obesity Epidemic found that just 40 percent of Americans have taken the step of discussing weight management with their doctors. Even fewer providers, just 27 percent, said that the majority of their patients have discussed this issue with them. However, 61 percent of Americans said they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with tips on how to manage their weight, and nearly a fourth (24 percent) reported that communications from their doctor between office visits.
It’s time for a multi-company and channel approach
I believe that pharma companies should be required, in all DTC marketing materials, to educate patients on the dangers of both being overweight and not exercising. It has to be the same type of hard hitting message(s) that we used to reduce smoking. We cannot throw up our hands and say nothing can be done because it involves too many behaviors, we have to grab this epidemic by the horns an attempt to slow down the momentum. Somewhere, someone on pharma should be jumping for joy when a patient no longer needs a medication to stay healthy where appropriate. We cannot just develop drugs because Americans are too lazy to exercise and eat right.