WASHINGTON — Using Father's Day to drive home his message about improving men's health, President Clinton on Saturday released the first portion of almost $60 million in prostate cancer research grants.
Clinton said the largest-ever federal research awards for finding better treatments for the disease will pay for "new studies to determine the cause of prostate cancer [and] develop new methods of prevention and detection. Grant recipients, selected from more than 600 applicants, began receiving about $25 million in funds on Saturday. An additional $34 million will be released to researchers next month.
The president said that nearly 200,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year; as many as 40,000 will die of it. That is about the same number of women who die of breast cancer each year, he added.
Clinton pledged that his administration will direct as many resources as possible to combating prostate cancer, which he termed "one of the greatest health threats" men face.
"For far too long, too little was known about prostate cancer, too little was said about it out of embarrassment and fear. And because of this, too little was done about it," the president said.
Turning to another health issue, smoking, Clinton again chastised Republican lawmakers for killing an antismoking bill that would have funneled a portion of funds raised from a cigarette price increase and tobacco industry fines to medical research.
"They voted against increased cancer research and against saving lives," Clinton said.
In the Republican radio address, Rep. Bill Archer (R-Texas) used Father's Day to reiterate his appeal to fellow lawmakers to grant federal tax breaks to encourage parents to save for their children's education costs in elementary and secondary schools.
"When it comes to strengthening America's morals and values, nothing counts more than giving our children an education that is second to none," Archer said of his education initiative.
The plan lets parents, grandparents, businesses and unions contribute up to $2,000 a year to educational savings accounts that would grow tax-free. The money could be used to pay for a variety of eucation costs, including tuition, school supplies, tutoring and expenses incurred by children with disabilities.
Clinton and many Democrats have expressed opposition to the measure, saying its primary beneficiaries would be affluent families who send their children to private schools.
In the fight against prostate cancer, a Defense Department research program has been modeled after the widely acclaimed peer-review breast cancer program administered by the Pentagon.
In this fiscal year, the National Institutes of Health was given $122 million for prostate cancer research. Clinton has asked Congress to increase that amount by 65% over the next five years.
Clinton said scientists need to know more about the various factors that contribute to the cancer's development, why black men are disproportionately affected and how best to eliminate the risks of treatment.
"The only way we will ever answer these questions, and the only way we will ever beat prostate cancer, is by continuing to invest in research," the president said.