A study done in part at the University of Iowa finds skin diseases are much more prevalent than first thought and cost a tremendous amount to treat. U-of-I dermatology professor Dr. Marta Van Beek is in Washington D.C. today (Wednesday) to release the study — and to lobby national policymakers. Van Beek says one in every three people in the U.S. suffers from a skin disease and “even more concerning,” the study finds the treatment of skin diseases cost 37-billion dollars a year. Van Beek is part of a delegation in Washington to urge members of Congress to put more money into skin disease research. She says there are all sorts of skin diseases that fit under the general category.The most costly are: skin ulcers and wounds, melanoma, acne, non-melanoma skin cancer and atopic dermatitis. Using sunscreen can help to prevent skin cancer but Dr. Van Beek says most of the rest are simply genetic — you’re either prone to get them or not. She says this study, for the first time ever, quantifies the considerable toll such diseases have on the health care system and the U.S. economy — from doctor visits, over-the-counter and prescription medicine costs and lost work productivity. Van Beek says the rate of increase in skin disease exceeds the rate of increase for spending on obesity, hypertension and cancer. She joins other dermatologists, most of them researchers, who are calling on Congress to increase overall funding for the National Institutes of Health by six-percent. It’s estimated research expenditures on skin diseases will total nearly 80-million dollars this year, while funding for kidney and urologic disease, for example, is estimated at 860-million, an amount more than ten times greater. Van Beek has/had meetings scheduled today with Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin and Congressman Jim Leach.
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