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Cancer Research or Halloween

The budget for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is downright scary.

The Federal Government  fiscal year started on October 1st and the announced budget for the National Cancer Institute should scare anyone. For 2011, the NCI budget is $5,264,643,000 or $5.2 billion to make it simple. This is a 3.2% increase ($163 million) to the 2010 budget.

Let’s Put the NCI budget into perspective.

A budget of $5.2 billion appears very robust but how does it relate to say Halloween? According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the amount of money spent by U.S. consumers for Halloween this year is expected to reach $5.8 billion. Can this be correct? Yes, unfortunately, it is. U.S. consumers will spend more on candy, costumes and decorations for Halloween than is spent all year on cancer research by the National Cancer Institute.

The average Halloween participant was expected to spend $66.28 because…

In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday.

What we need is a break from the cancer reality

However, this break is unlikely to occur anytime soon if the NCI is spending $5.2 billion on 310 million American or less than $17 per American on cancer research. Hopefully, the NCI budget will be increased. In 2008, the The Obama-Biden Plan to Combat Cancer stated that

The Obama-Biden plan will double federal funding for cancer research within 5 years, focusing on NIH and NCI.

Lets hope that the increased funding of the NCI comes soon. However, from 2009 to 2010 the budget increased only 2.7% and from 2010 to 2011 the increase was only 3.2%. Thus, unless something is in the works the doubling of the budget is unlikely to become a reality in 5 years. There was an additional $1.2 billion added in 2009-2010 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but that is still far from doubling.

Perhaps the answer to cancer research funding relies with Americans and not America. Perhaps we need to spend a little less every Halloween and donate this money to cancer research. If we spent just half the amount on Halloween and donated it to cancer research our goal of doubling the NCI budget would be halfway accomplished and take no political intervention at all.

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