A cure for cancer wouldn't just be a medical triumph that would have us patting each other in the back for a job well done. The cure would actually have a positive economic impact of about $50 trillion.
A new study, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Economy, calculates the prospective gains that could be obtained from further progress against major diseases. Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel, two University of Chicago researchers, estimate that even modest advancements against major diseases would have a significant impact -- a 1 percent reduction in mortality from cancer has a value to Americans of nearly $500 billion. A cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion.