New study to put a dollar figure to the cost of cancer

Studies show Sarnia-Lambton has the highest rate of mesothelioma in Ontario. A new research project hopes to put a dollar figure on the cost of all cancers and how reducing harmful exposures could save cash.

Studies show Sarnia-Lambton has the highest rate of mesothelioma in Ontario. A new research project hopes to put a dollar figure on the cost of all cancers and how reducing harmful exposures could save cash.

Dr. Paul Demers knows some people cannot be convinced to make changes unless there is a good financial reason.

And he says that’s true even when you’re fighting cancer.

The director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre recently spoke at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Sarnia kick off to its annual campaign. He told about 200 people about a new research project which is taking place across Canada into the financial costs of cancer.

“For some groups or some organizations talking about the number of new people developing cancer is very important, talking about them dying, the years lost is all very important,” says Demers. “For other organizations that are primarily economic driven they may say ‘Yes, yes,  but we would have to make these changes and what would be the impact of that?’ So by also arming groups like the cancer society with the number of dollars we hope to make that we give them the ability to make more powerful arguments for reductions and exposures and also to get people to spend money voluntarily to reduce exposures …usually there is a cost associated with that.”

And he says the research can also help governments pass tougher laws. He says the federal Toxin Reduction Act requires companies to have a plan to reduce toxins, but it doesn’t require them to actually do it. With the information compiled in this study, Demers says government may see the financial benefits of tightening loopholes in legislation.

“In the United Kingdom in the European union, they said if we reduce exposures, how many cancers do we eliminate in the future, how many dollars would be saved,” says Demers. “We hope to say ‘this is the benefits if you reduce by this much, this is how many people you save and this is how many dollars you save.’

“Emissions have gone down…by putting numbers behind the toll of cancer…we’re going to be able to encourage more voluntary reductions,” he added.

– Heather Wright

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