The first long-term study tracked Americans in the 1950s and ‘60s – and established the link between smoking and lung cancer.
The second round followed people from the ‘70s through the ‘90s.
Researchers learned how things like obesity, hormones and air pollution can increase cancer risk.
Now the American Cancer Society is launching a third study. Dr. Mark Clanton is a regional leader with the ACA.
“The Cancer Prevention Study-3 is really important because it’s beginning to make that link between an individual’s DNA, the hormone levels in their body, levels of vitamins in their body and the choices they make in terms of lifestyle.”
Things that doctors already know about – like the fact that smoking is bad – will be explored in far more detail.
“So how much smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. How little exercise you do relates to your risk of developing certain cancers.”
The goal is to enroll 300,000 Americans.
Clanton says the study really needs more men to volunteer, and also more Hispanics and African Americans.
“Since ethnic minorities tend not to participate in scientific studies related to medicine and cancer, we’re very interested in having individuals of all ethnic backgrounds and in particular African Americans because they have a higher risk of certain cancers and a higher risk of dying from those cancers.”
Participants will give a small blood sample once, at the very beginning. Then they will complete a health survey every other year, for 20 or even 30 years.
Clanton says if you’re curious about medical studies or simply want to contribute to science, this study is for you.
“Virtually all other scientific studies are usually screened through hospitals and physicians, and this is the only study that allows people who are interested in understanding their own risk to say ‘Hey, I want to participate and I want to sign up.’ And of course there’s no charge associated with that.”