November 22, 2014

Report says Iowa fails in several areas for fighting cancer

Iowa is getting a poor grade on a new report card ranking the states for their efforts to prevent and fight cancer. The study from the American Cancer Society used ten criteria, things like the size of cigarette taxes, tobacco cessation program funding and the amount of phys ed required in schools. Iowa only got passing grades in three of the ten categories.

David Holmquist, with the Cancer Action Network, says one area where Iowa failed is that state legislators have failed to pass age restrictions on tanning beds. “Younger and younger people are beginning to get melanoma,” he says. “In other words, women in their 20s who tanned a lot in their teens, it seems that the skin is more susceptible to the effects of the rays, the infrared rays that tanning beds provide.”

Holmquist says, “Prevention is a huge issue and by not allowing any women under the age of 18 to use a tanning bed, we can prevent a lot of melanomas.” The areas where Iowa did well on the report include: cancer pain control, access to Medicaid coverage and the statewide law banning smoking in most public places, though Iowa lost ground there, too, for still allowing smoking on casino floors.

While Iowa had a poor showing in the report, the best-ranked states only passed six of the ten categories. Holmquist says three-quarters of all states are falling short in the cancer fight. “If we don’t set high benchmarks and high standards, we will never win the war on cancer and that’s really what it’s all about,” Holmquist says.

“Years and years ago, President Nixon declared we would wage war on cancer. We’re still fighting a battle. We haven’t begun to win the war.” According to the Cancer Society, nearly 6,500 Iowans will die of cancer this year. See the full report at: www.acscan.org