In February, President Biden renewed America’s commitment to cutting the cancer rate and improving the lives of the millions of people living with and surviving cancer. More recently, his Administration’s budget proposed to spend $308 million in 2023 on the Cancer Moonshot.
Last week, Dr. Neal Barnard and Physicians Committee staff sent a letter to President Biden with recommendations for the renewed Cancer Moonshot to explore the connection between diet and cancer prevention and to invest in human-specific, nonanimal cancer research approaches.
About one-third of cancer cases can be attributed to food choices, making it clear that to cut the cancer rate, the renewed Cancer Moonshot must focus on diet as cancer prevention: replacing harmful foods like meat and dairy in American diets by expanding access to healthful plan-based foods and nondairy milk, especially in our nation’s schools and hospitals.
Animals are commonly used in research funded by the National Cancer Institute, where the original Cancer Moonshot has been housed, but animal-based research is ethically fraught and inherently limited by species differences, resulting in unpredictable differences between preclinical testing and clinical trial results. It is also expensive and time-consuming, lacking the large-scale testing capabilities of 21st century methods like tissue chips and organoids. To diagnose cancer sooner, treat it more effectively, and address health disparities, the Cancer Moonshot must invest in human-specific experimental models and human subjects and data. Through these approaches, we can more reliably model patient characteristics and tumor mechanisms, and we can begin to make real progress for cancer patients.
Read the Physicians Committee’s letter here: