Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OPINION NUGGETS: BREAST CANCER; Prevention Is No. 1

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OPINION NUGGETS: BREAST CANCER; Prevention Is No. 1

Article excerpt

Whether women should get mammograms has become a contentious issue in recent years.

But one of the major advocates, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, continues to advocate that women 40 and older receive annual mammograms. The key is early detection. The five-year survival rate is 98 percent for women who have caught the disease before it has spread to other tissues. The overall five-year survival rate is 89 percent.

Breast cancer is the top cause of cancer deaths among women from age 29 to 59, the Komen group reported in a special section in Time magazine. About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.

We know there are certain factors that increase the risk, such as family history, genetic mutations, a weight gain of 20 or more pounds after age 18 and delayed childbirth beyond 35. The highest rates are among women older than 70.

The Komen group recommends clinical breast exams in the 20s and annual mammograms after 40 for women with average risk. Women should consult their physicians, and take every reasonable precaution against this disease.

While the effectiveness may be in dispute, the importance of early detection must be appreciated.

REMOVING THE STIGMA

While health care remains a major public health issue, mental health needs a place at the table.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that state services for the mentally ill are being cut. For years, mental health has been treated as a second-class health issue.

Yet, mental illness weaves through many important issues beyond health. For instance, unemployed workers are four times more likely to report symptoms of mental illness, while veterans are twice as likely as citizens to die from suicide.

In Florida, about 660,000 adults were treated for mental illness in 2009; in Georgia, it is 349,000.

Untreated mental illness leads to physical problems, damaged careers, broken families, homelessness, higher insurance rates, higher welfare costs and higher emergency room expenses.

Cutting mental health funding is foolish.

THE HOUSING ANCHOR

It's around the neck of the U.S. economy, the anchor of houses that Americans cannot afford.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there is a "shadow inventory" of about 5 million houses that are potential foreclosures that have not come to market.

In other words, the housing crisis is even worse than it appears.

Another startling statistic: 11 million borrowers are underwater, owing more on their home than it is worth, and another 2.5 million will join them if prices decline by just 5 percent.

That is another reason to hold homes off the market, because it could cause a devastating price drop.

One idea is to allow bankruptcy courts to deal with foreclosures. Another is to have the government help homeowners, as was done during the Depression. …

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