Many people donate their time or money to fight cancer, but you can take a more active role in the search for a cure. It'll only take about an hour every few years, but it could make a big difference.
If you're between 30 and 65 and have never had cancer, you can sign up for Cancer Prevention Study 3 or CPS-3. Deb Greene got involved in 2011. She says all you have to do is give a small blood sample, and answer a questionnaire every few years.
As she explains, it involves "what do you do, how do you exercise, what are you around. So it's your lifestyle, they're simple questions about you and what you do on a daily basis."
Everybody knows now that smoking causes lung cancer, but earlier CPS studies, starting in the 50's, helped confirm that. They also uncovered that low tar/nicotine cigarettes didn't reduce a smoker's risk of lung cancer.
According to Dr. Megan Hess, a family physician with Blair Medical Associates, "CPS-2 actually uncovered the fact that aspirin helps prevent colon cancer, which is something we weren't really expecting to find."
She says the surveys also led to the discovery that being overweight increases your risk of cancer. And Dr. Hess adds, "that's what's interesting about a prospective study. You don't know what you're looking for, you just gather a lot of data and you go back and analyze it."
If you do get cancer, researchers can go back and look at your lifestyle and your blood sample to see if they can figure out why. If you don't develop cancer, they may be able to figure out whether your lifestyle or your genes, helped protect you.
Either way, it could save future lives.
Deb urges, "if you know a cancer survivor please come and participate in honor of them. If you know someone who's lost their life to cancer, please come and participate in honor of them."
You'll have four chances to sign up in our region, this fall---two in Bedford County and two in Blair County.
They include October 1 and October 2 at Homewood at Spring House Estates in Everett, October 3 at Station Medical Center in Altoona, and at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Blair County walk on October 5 at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
For more information, go to www.BedfordBlairCPS3.org or call 1-888-604-5888