The National Cancer Institute today issued its Annual Report to the Nation on cancer, and it has some good news for all Americans this Christmas season: Rates of new diagnoses and rates of death from all cancers combined declined significantly in the most recent time period for men and women overall and for most racial and ethnic populations in the United States, according to a report from leading health and cancer organizations."

The report goes on to state that Cancer deaths decreased 1.6 percent per year from 2001 to 2006.

Its a pretty safe bet that just about everyone reading this has lost someone to cancer or knows someone fighting the disease. In its many varieties from adenocarcinoma (cancer of the glandular system) to colorectal cancer the disease is indiscriminate in when and whom it strikes. Cancer is one of pains best friends, and deaths greatest allies.

So, todays report should encourage all of us. You can read it at the link above to learn more about why the decline has occurred. But thats not why Im writing about it.

If the Democratic health care plan becomes law, it is safe to assume that the sheer weight of its costs will prohibit further private-sector health research and development. Many medical firms undertake cancer research projects and seek to develop treatments to arrest and even cure the various forms of cancer.

How many of these, and how many federally-funded anti-cancer programs, will collapse as health care research dollars become scarcer?

Consider the words of former Clinton Labor Secretary and leading Democratic intellectual Robert Reich in a speech he gave at UC-Berkeley in 2007:

This is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say ... We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die. (Robert Reich Reveals Brutal Health Care Truths; MSM Snores, Wall Street Journal blog, by P.J. Gladnick, Media Research Center, Oct. 13, 2009)

Without continued market-driven research and adequate federal funding, todays good news about cancer will become little more than a cherished memory. And such funding and research will, as Robert Reich suggests, decline if Uncle Sam manages and rations health care.