Michigan Blues Foundation provides funds to Prostate Cancer Research Fund to help in fight against most frequently diagnosed cancer in Michigan

Partnership will foster new research in the state

January 14, 2010

DETROIT - The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is awarding a $52,000 grant to the Prostate Cancer Research Fund to help in the fight against the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Michigan, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men.

As part of a partnership between the Blues Foundation and the Michigan Department of Community Health, a new program is currently under development to provide grants to Michigan researchers working on prostate cancer.

"We see this as an ideal opportunity to help make a difference by supporting research on a critical health issue facing many Michigan men," said Ira Strumwasser, executive director and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. "We look forward to partnering with the Michigan Department of Community Health to develop and support research in our state."

"This contribution doubles the initial funding received by the Prostate Cancer Research Fund to support research on this important public health issue," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH director. "All of us know someone who has been affected by this disease."

The Prostate Cancer Research Fund was created by Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) to provide funds, secure donations and promote prostate cancer research in the state. During the first year, Michigan residents contributed $52,000 to the fund via state tax checkoff, and the Blues Foundation will now match those donations. Michigan taxpayers will again have an opportunity to contribute money to the Prostate Cancer Research Fund when completing their 2009 state income tax forms.

For more than 20 years, prostate cancer has been the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Michigan. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men. African-American men have a higher rate of diagnosis than men of other racial or ethnic groups in Michigan and across the United States, with a death rate that is 2.4 times higher than their counterparts.

This grant from the Blues Foundation coincides with a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan initiative to promote awareness of prostate cancer among African-American men. The Michigan Blues are engaged in a three-year partnership with 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit Inc. and the American Cancer Society to address health disparities among African-American men.

As part of the prostate cancer-screening awareness campaign, men are asked to take personal responsibility for their health and encouraged to get screened for prostate cancer.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is dedicated to improving the health of Michigan residents by supporting health care research and innovative health programs. The foundation's grant programs are conducted in Michigan by Michigan-based researchers and nonprofit community health care organizations.

Over the past 25 years, the BCBSM Foundation has contributed approximately $25 million in grants for research and $5 million for community health programs. This funding has resulted in enhancements to quality, patient safety and access to care for the people of Michigan. The foundation also supports efforts to control the rising costs of health care through research, demonstration and evaluation projects.

The BCBSM Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit bcbsm.com/foundation.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred®, Community Blue℠ and Healthy Blue Incentives℠ PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living℠; Flexible Blue℠ plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue℠ products in the under-age-65 individual market. The Blues also offer dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

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