Let's Fight Cancer With a Focus on Prevention

Sadly, I can almost ensure that nearly every reader of this blog post has been affected by cancer -- either personally or through a loved one or friend. In 2013, about 580,350 Americans were estimated to die of cancer -- that's almost 1,600 people per day. While we've come a long way, having developed treatments for the disease and its many forms, we're still far off from ensuring that cancer is a disease of the past.

I am dedicated to doing everything in my power to combat this horrific disease -- not just as a Member of Congress, but also as someone who has been personally affected. Last year, I sadly lost my father to lung cancer. I had been fighting against cancer for a long time, but this loss only made me redouble my efforts to take even greater action so we can find a cure once and for all.

As a co-chair and co-founder of the House Cancer Caucus, I know how critical early detection is, and I also know that there is a clear link between investments in research and reduced cancer mortality. Our government must make a robust commitment to funding both cancer research and prevention. It triggers private investment and leads to innovative breakthroughs.

To that end, I introduced a resolution recognizing the 40th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971 and to honor the millions of cancer survivors that are alive today because of the commitment we have made to research and advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment.

I also strongly believe that small changes in our lifestyle can go a long way in prevention, and that's why I'm thankful for organizations like Less Cancer that raise awareness about the importance of prevention. That's also why I introduced legislation, the Cleaning Product Right-to-Know Act, which would require the disclosure of ingredients in everyday cleaning products, some of which could lead to cancer. Our cabinets are full of soaps and cleaners that we assume improve our homes and health. New research shines a light on the secret chemicals that might be doing more harm than good. We deserve to know what we are coming into contact with and inhaling.

In my home state of New York, over 100,000 New Yorkers were estimated to be diagnosed with cancer in 2013. This is simply unacceptable, and that's why I remain committed to this cause. As we welcome 2014, I hope we'll also be kicking off a year in which this number dramatically dips. However, without the proper funding for research and a commitment to lifestyle changes, I fear that this hope is not based on reality. We must keep fighting.

This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and lesscancer.org, in recognition of both World Cancer Day and National Cancer Prevention Day (both Feb. 4), and in conjunction with lesscancer.org's panel on cancer in Washington that day. To see all the other posts in the series, click here. For more information about lesscancer.org, click here.