How often do people say they wish they could do something to help rid the world of cancer? Fortunately, there are real ways to make an impact,, from making a contribution to an organization like the American Cancer Society, to volunteering in a local program, to engaging in a local fund raising event.
But I have another suggestion sign up for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). Recruitment is currently underway in cities nationwide, and we are on the final push to enlist 300,000 people in the United States between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never had cancer to help us advance our knowledge and research into the causes of the disease.
This is a truly groundbreaking study, perhaps the largest of its kind currently seeking participants around the globe. And it holds the potential to give us answers to some of the most fundamental questions of how and why cancer happens to us. From my vantage point, the information from this study combined with other research will almost certainly move us further down the path to make this century cancer's last century. It is that important an effort.
We have done similar research studies in the past, but none has been as sophisticated as this one. Similar large population based studies have offered us the information we needed to understand the real harms of tobacco use. The initial cancer prevention study (CPS I) from 1959 through 1972 included one million men and women and looked at a large number of exposures that may increase or decrease cancer risk. The second cancer prevention study (CPS II) started in 1982, and in fact is still ongoing. A remarkable 1.2 million people signed up for CPS II, which-like CPS I-was designed to look at a wide range of environmental and lifestyle exposures that may increase or decrease cancer risk. A "follow on" nutrition study that started in 1992 included 185,000 people from the CPS II study and examined how our diets and our weight impacts cancer risk and cancer deaths.
These studies have made and continue to make truly monumental contributions to understanding cancer and its causes. They have shown us the terrible impact of tobacco and overweight/obesity on cancer deaths. They have helped us understand the effects of hormones, physical activity, various medicines and aspirin on cancer risk. We know about the relationship of diabetes and colon and pancreatic cancer because of this research. The list goes on, and I do not exaggerate when I say the impact of these efforts over the past several decades has been staggering.
We wouldn't have learned what we learned if people like you didn't volunteer to participate. There are some requirements, however, such as being between the ages of 30 and 65 with no personal history of cancer. You will have to agree to attend one of the sites where you will initially learn about the study, fill out a questionnaire, and have a blood sample taken. You will have to fill out a more complete questionnaire when you get home, and then periodically complete follow-up surveys over the course of a number of years. And signups are done at only at certain sites, which you can find on our comprehensive CPS-3 web site.
Another point I can't stress enough is that we need everyone to participate: younger folks (that's the "30 somethings"), older folks (up to age 65), men, women, and especially people of varied ethnic origin. It's a sad fact that many older research studies were concentrated on one ethnic group or one sex. We need everyone to help out if we are going to be sufficiently diverse in this effort to be able to answer the questions about cancer that apply to all of us.
So if you have ever thought about cancer impacting someone you care about, and you want to do something genuine to help others, then get involved with CPS III. It's personal, it's a commitment, and I assure you it makes a genuine difference for all of us.