Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media


After dueling reviews of research studies, scientific panels from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization are having a hard time agreeing whether glyphosate, the most common weed killer in the United States, can cause cancer. Known by the brand name RoundUp, glyphosate is sprayed on farm fields and lawns all across the country.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

In 1961, President Kennedy said the US needed to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Now, more than 50 years later, Vice President Joe Biden says the nation needs a cancer moonshot – with a goal of doubling the rate of progress to end cancer as we know it.

On Wednesday, he held a summit in Washington. Organizations in all fifty states and Puerto Rico participated to, as Biden puts it, "break down silos, seize the moment, and double the rate of progress."

Jennifer Loeb

We use the metaphors “climbing a mountain” and “reaching the highest peak” as a way to describe the biggest challenges in our lives.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowans who have summited the highest peaks in the world, pushing themselves to the limit, stepping out of their comfort zone, and in Jesup native Jennifer Loeb's case, finding a greater sense of purpose.

Harvest Public Media file photo by Luke Runyon

A group of Nebraska farmers is suing the giant seed and chemical company Monsanto in federal court, saying the company's top-selling herbicide gave them cancer.

Farmers Larry Domina, Robert Dickey, and Royce Janzen, along with agronomist Frank Pollard, have all been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. They were exposed to Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller in their work on the farm.


They allege that Roundup caused their illness and that Monsanto downplayed research showing the chemical poses a cancer risk.

Flickr / Laura Taylor

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that for some patients with stage IV breast cancer, surgery can significantly prolong their lives. 

Once breast cancer reaches stage IV, the disease has spread to parts of the body beyond the breasts. Many doctors consider these patients incurable and won't operate as they don't want to incur the risks of surgery in an already terminal patient.

But it turns out surgery may be worthwhile. 

courtesy of Brad Anderson

Above + Beyond Cancer, a Des Moines-based non-profit, was planning on taking a group of caregivers and cancer survivors to Nepal. Then, the earthquake hit. Dr. Richard Deming, founder of the group, says that changed everything.

Photo by Matt Brooks for NET News

Farmers count on chemical herbicides to keep their fields weed-free. But an international panel of scientists who studied two of the most heavily used farm chemicals to determine whether they could cause cancer, said exposure to weed-killing chemicals could come at a cost. In the last few months, scientists brought together by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, considered glyphosate and 2,4-D.

National Institutes of Health

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act Friday morning, which increases funding to the National Institutes of Health by $8.75 billion over the course of five years.

This announcement is particularly exciting for biomedical researchers in Iowa and across the country. When taking inflation into account, NIH funding has dropped by more than 22 percent since 2003.

Grant Gerlock/Harveset Public Media


Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she’s charted some 10,000 miles travelling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

“Radiation treatments usually (take) only about 5 minutes (on) a day that they have to see you,” Dethlefs said. “But for a week, for seven weeks in a row, you’re driving every single day to the cancer treatment center. We’re about an hour away from cancer centers.”

Wikimedia Commons

The 2015 Cancer in Iowa report released today shows a drastic jump in the number of cases of skin cancer in the state.

Flickr / gosheshe

A bill that bans minors from commercial tanning beds due to risk of skin cancer has cleared a committee in the Iowa House, despite objections from a coalition of Republicans on the panel.  

Rep. Ken Rizer, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says parents should decide whether their 16 or 17 year old can tan since older teens are legally able to participate in other potentially hazardous activities. 

A persistent pooch named Sissy snuck out of her Cedar Rapids home on Friday morning, in a quest to find her owner.

Faculty of Medicine NTNU

Cancer-related deaths continue to decline in the U.S., and scientific breakthroughs are occurring at a breathtaking pace. But is this trend in jeopardy?

Hey Cancer

May 2, 2014
Scott Siepker

"Iowa Nice Guy" Scott Siepker joins Ben Kieffer on River to River to talk about his latest video "Hey Cancer," which he created as a humorous tribute to his late father, Terry “Zip” Siepker, who lost his second battle with leukemia last year.

"If you have somebody in your life that you love...please get out there and do it- tell the people you love that you love them!" - Scott Siepker

Joe Wilkinson / Iowa DNR

In a News Buzz edition of River to River, Host Ben Kieffer talks with IPR's Clay Masters about debate over a plan to ban the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine to minors. 

We hear from Cedar Rapids Democratic Senator Liz Mathis about the need for emergency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.  She says one family found it less costly to spend a week in a hotel, rather than heat their home using propane. 

We get local reaction to a new study on the effectiveness of mammograms. 

Fern Kupfer’s latest book is a memoir that transports readers to Long Island in the 1950s. Charity Nebbe talks with the Ames author as she reflects on past experiences in her life, including the period she discovered she was BRCA positive, a genetic marker for cancer.

Charity Nebbe

Host Charity Nebbe celebrates acts of kindness by interviewing the people whose lives have been positively affected by others.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Researchers operating on federal grants have welcomed the end of the partial government shutdown. As federal employees return to work, IPR’s Durrie Bouscaren considers some of the lasting implications for medical research in Iowa. 

At the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Doctor Sue O’Dorisio is working on a drug for children with brain cancer. She pulls up an MRI image from a young woman who participated in one of her clinical trials—a tumor sits at the base of her brain.

Lileah Harris

When Lennox Randon asked his friends Rob Cline and Dennis Green to form a writing group, they were reluctant to devote the time until Randon mentioned his diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer.  Now the three Cedar Rapids residents have been meeting weekly for more than two years to write, read and help each other polish their work.  Their dedication has paid off with three separate publishing contracts.  The men are each mystery writers,

Matching Marrow

Mar 28, 2013
Courtesy photo

A diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma often means  several rounds of chemotherapy.  Sometimes, a bone marrow transplant is the best option for a cure. The bone marrow donation process has evolved and is less frightening and invasive than it once was. Bone marrow registry events were held in several locations throughout Iowa this month. IPR's Pat Blank has the story of two Iowa women whose lives have been changed because a stranger decided to add their name to the list.  For more information about bone marrow donation check out the Be The Match website.

University of Iowa Dance Marathon website

The college students who participate in Dance Marathon do a lot of dancing but that is just the beginning. Dance Marathon is an event designed to raise money for kids with cancer. Two weekends ago, dancers in Ames at Iowa State University raised more than $380,000. Last weekend dancers in Iowa City at the University of Iowa raised more than $1,529,000.

Fern Kupfer’s latest book is a memoir that transports readers to Long Island in the 1950s. Charity Nebbe talks with the Ames author as she reflects on past experiences in her life, including the period she discovered she was BRCA positive, a genetic marker for cancer.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. And in cities across the country, crowds dressed in pink have been running and walking in the Race for the Cure. But some participants – and their dollars – have been missing from these fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation this year.

After a public outcry over a decision early this year to stop funding Planned Parenthood, the organization quickly reversed its position.

As Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon reports, Komen officials say participation is slowly coming back.

Messer Woland / Wikimedia Commons

More than 14,000 women in the United States die from Ovarian cancer every year. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jodie Kavensky, from Davenport, who lost her mother to Ovarian Cancer. Kavensky is now dedicating her life to raising awareness about this deadly disease through the NormaLeah Foundation. Then, two Ovarian cancer survivors, Kerri Stevens and Laura Shawver, share their personal stories.

Province of British Columbia / Flickr

The question of whether or not a woman over the age of 40 should get a mammogram seems like a simple one, but it’s not. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Handel Reynolds about the history of the mammogram, the lives that have been saved, the very real negatives and risks associated with it and why this imperfect test has become ubiquitous.

David Bartemis / AuthorHouse

David Bartemis, a cancer survivor journeyed to climb Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro with the group “Above and Beyond Cancer.” Bartemis wrote about his experience with the 19 other cancer survivors 21 caregivers in the book, We Call Her Kili.

Talk of Iowa will also speak with cyclists of the Race Across America, an ultra marathon bicycle race across the United States, who hope to raise money for cancer research.

Nathan Timmel

One Iowa comedian says he turns to his uncommon experiences growing up for his profession. Host Ben Kieffer talks with comedian and author, Nathan Timmel, about his memoir “I Was a White Knight…Once.”

Then, listen back to excerpts from Ben’s conversation with Lauren Reece Flaum, who died this month after living with breast cancer for 17 years. In 2008, Redbook magazine asked its readers to submit their stories about living with breast cancer and Flaum beat out thousands of entries to win the contest.

Many people know the basics of skin safety- wear sunscreen, protective clothing, avoid sunburns, but there are still many misconceptions and questions on sun-related concerns. On today's "Talk of Iowa" we explore the myths and questions you have about skin cancer and the sun. We also discuss the prevalence of tanning salons in the state, as well as find out why vitamin D is so important, and how you can be sure you are getting enough.