12 Ways to Fund the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Dozens of charities work for a breast cancer cure. But before you run another race or buy another pink product, find out where your money’s going. Here, we asked some of the most interesting minds in medicine for their priorities for breast cancer funds.

By Bari Nan Cohen
We’ve long known that African-Americans get aggressive breast cancer more frequently than whites do. Now that we’ve identified which subtype they get, it may be part of the whole story about prognosis in African-American women with breast cancer. It’s just one piece of the breast cancer puzzle, but a very interesting piece." — Lisa Carey, MD, medical director, University of North Carolina Lineberger Breast CenterAdvocacy, Genetics, the Environment & More 8. Push lawmakers to create accessible healthcare. "You can talk all you want about early detection and targeted therapy. If everyone in this country doesn’t have access to what they need — and that’s quality healthcare — what’s the point? How much money are we going to continue to put into more and more expensive interventions while fewer and fewer people have coverage?"— Fran Visco, president, National Breast Cancer CoalitionLearn more about the Natl. Breast Cancer Coalition’s network of grassroots advocacy 9. Link genetics and the environment. "I’ve been leading the Long Island Breast Cancer Study since 1995. We’ve been focusing on environmental factors that may affect breast cancer, including polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs] — products released by the combustion of diesel fuel, cigarette smoke, and even the black stuff that appears when you grill your food. If you’re exposed to PAHs — and everybody is — your body repairs the damage. But if the repair mechanism is overwhelmed or you have a genetic variation that can’t handle it, your body responds differently — with cancer. So now we want to know if it’s possible that only some people are genetically susceptible to the effects of PAHs." — Marilie Gammon, PhD, professor of epidemiology, University of North Carolina School of Public Health10. Follow the model of cervical cancer. "When I first started practicing 30 years ago, if we had an abnormal Pap smear, the patient had to have a hysterectomy. But because we could get to the cervix and see where the cancer started, we did research and found the cause: the HPV viruses. Today we have a vaccine. Cancer of the breast starts in the milk ducts, and now we can get in there with a catheter. There may be a way to put chemotherapy down the ducts; there’s some good data in rats where chemo put into the ducts prevented cancer. At the same time, we can figure out what are the earliest changes, under which conditions, so that we can prevent cancer from ever starting. So what I am doing with my life is putting all my efforts and all the money I can get into that area, because I think it has the most opportunity." — Susan Love, MD, president, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book (Da Capo Lifelong Books)Buy Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book 11. Investigate the environment. "We have noticed a pattern in our country [Nigeria], with girls 16 or 17 years old having breast cancer. We suspect there might be something in the environment that is causing some of this. We’ve noticed an increase in breast cancer in one area of our country that has similar climate changes to those in Europe or the United States, and we’re starting to wonder if it has to do with the kind of food they grow. They grow apples, strawberries — foods like the ones you grow here — and they now use fertilizers to grow them. Also, more people in Nigeria are eating fast food. We don’t have the money for even basic research in Nigeria, but this is the hunch I would follow." — Princess Nikky Onyeri, founder, Princess Nikky Breast Cancer Foundation 12. Study complementary therapies. "I would like to do a clinical trial to prove what I already have proven in my own practice: holistic therapies, such as Reiki, massage, reflexology, and guided imagery, complement medical therapies. They truly make a difference in survival and in overall wellness."— Beth Dupree, MD, breast surgeon/Reiki practitioner and author of The Healing Consciousness: A Doctor’s Journey to Healing (Wovenword Press)Purchase The Healing Consciousness Originally published in MORE magazine, October 2006, as "Where Should Breast Cancer Bucks Go?"

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