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Contact: Tim Poor
Phone: (314) 935-9398
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Pink Ribbon Dollars Help to Bridge Gaps in Cancer Funding
These days, governments at all levels are cutting spending. Even popular programs
like breast cancer research are affected.
But in many states, including Tennessee, people who want to help can do so as
easily as checking a box on their tax returns or renewing their license plates.
Federal funding for cancer research more than pays for itself through improved
education and prevention, reduced health care costs and saved lives. According to
American Cancer Society Chief Executive John Seffrin, the cost of cuts in current
funding could mean as many as 40,000 fewer women, many of them African
Americans, will get screenings for breast and cervical cancers.
The good news is that many African Americans are doing their part to make up the
difference. In some states, taxpayers can direct part of their refunds to breast
cancer research by checking boxes on their state tax returns. Elsewhere, fees from
license plate renewals and revenue from lottery tickets have raised millions of
dollars for research and prevention, according to a new study.
“We found that revenue-generating breast cancer initiatives can be a successful
strategy for states to raise funds, or ‘pink ribbon dollars,’ for prevention and early
detection programs,” said Amy Eyler, research associate professor at Washington
University in St. Louis, who led the study. “Money raised from these sources goes to
local advocacy agencies like Susan G. Komen or to research institutions.”
Researchers found that from 2001-2009, 18 states -- not including Tennessee -- had
programs that allow taxpayers to check a box on state income tax forms to donate
part of their refunds to breast cancer programs. The median annual state revenue
for breast cancer research and prevention programs collected through the income
tax check-off was $115,000, according to Eyler.
The death rate from breast cancer has been going down in most states, excluding
Tennessee. The researchers also found that states with medium or high breast
cancer death rates were 2.5 times more likely to offer breast cancer specialty license
plates than states with low breast cancer death rates. Twenty-six states, including
Tennessee, also had breast cancer license plates that generated more than $4.1
million in revenue.
Residents can order the specialty license plates for an extra annual fee, a percentage
of which goes to a specified cause or organization. The extra cost of specialized
plates for each consumer ranged from $20 to $75, depending on the state.
The success of these efforts is being noticed by other groups looking for additional
money in this difficult economic climate. Currently, the number of specialty plates
offered per state ranges from one in New Hampshire to more than 800 in Maryland.
The special funding opportunities are also a way people can know that their
donations go where they are supposed to go. License plates promote awareness of
breast cancer as well.
“Especially in October, when everything is breast cancer and everything is pink,
people buy things and don’t really know if the money is going to breast cancer
research,” Eyler said. “With these things, people can be sure it goes directly to those
who need the prevention and education. It’s really a unique opportunity to raise
funds and awareness.”
About Ozioma: Ozioma is a national cancer news service based in Missouri. It is
funded by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. Ozioma provides
minority media outlets with information about cancer risks, treatment and
prevention with a focus on taking action to improve health in African American
For more information, visit our Web site at: http://www.oziomanews.org