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Cancer prevention study underway

More than 400 participants in Gainesville area work to help find causes

POSTED: April 24, 2013 1:04 a.m.

Diane Speight spent a few moments Tuesday afternoon helping to prevent the next generation from getting cancer.

Speight and more than 400 other people in the Gainesville area are doing their part to uncover the causes of cancer and find ways to prevent the disease by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3.

The 30-year study will analyze surveys and blood samples from 300,000 people across the country to help researchers better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

The current generation’s exposures are different than previous generations’, and researchers want to know what role environmental pollutants and overall lifestyle and diet changes may play in the disease.

The study sign-in will continue from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today in the North Tower of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Participants must be between the ages of 30-65 and never have been diagnosed with cancer, not including basal and squamous cell skin cancer.

Anyone who is interested in participating is encouraged to sign in today. Researchers hope to have another 50 people join the study.

Participants provide a waist measurement and a small blood sample and complete a comprehensive health survey and will be asked to commit to a follow-up survey every few years for 20 years.

Speight said that she decided to sign up because she thought participating was an interesting way to help save lives.

“As this information is sorted out and connects, maybe there will be some correlation that reveals itself,” Speight said. “We know some causes but it still seems to be such a mystery that we should be able to figure out.”

The ACS’ two previous cancer prevention studies proved the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer and obesity with cancer and other health conditions.

The current study will pay close attention to any potential links between cancer and obesity and other health conditions.

“Obesity is an epidemic,” said Rachel Joiner, mission delivery manager with ACS. “We just want to learn more about that. We have a lot of information to back up the movement for a healthier lifestyle.”

Many of those who participated Tuesday afternoon work in health care.

Spears Mallis, practice administrator for the Longstreet Cancer Center, said the study is a great opportunity for those who work in the cancer community to work together to help end the disease.

Mallis said his involvement in the study was for both professional and personal reasons. His father is currently undergoing cancer treatment.

“I hope they find ways to better treat and prevent people from getting cancer,” Mallis said. “Maybe through healthy lifestyles but to really get out front of the diagnosis because if somebody goes untreated or undetected it can be very bad, but if you catch it early enough you’ve got a better chance at a long healthy life.”

While the participants themselves likely won’t benefit from the study, most of the participants expressed their desire to help better the lives of future generations.

“It’s a chance to be a part of preventing someone from hearing the word ‘cancer’ in 30 years when this study is over,” Joiner said. “Say you have a 4-year old. By the time he’s 34, we’re going to know a lot more about cancer and how you can prevent it. This is really for the next generation. Our time is now, it’s this generation paying it forward.”


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