The American Cancer Society is looking for a few thousand Minnesotans to help unravel the secrets to preventing disease.
This week, the group kicked off a statewide campaign to recruit volunteers for a massive national study, known as the Cancer Prevention Study-3.
Nationwide, the study has been going on for six years, says Jari Johnston-Allen, CEO of the cancer society's Midwest division. But so far, only about a third of the overall target-- 300,000 participants -- has been reached; so they're stepping up efforts to find new recruits.
The ultimate goal, she says, is to get a better understanding of how the air we breathe, the food we eat and the way we live our lives -- not to mention genetics -- affect our chances of getting cancer.
For that, they need volunteers who are willing to give a blood sample and some measurements and fill out a 30-minute survey. That -- and allow researchers to contact them periodically over the next 20 years with follow-up questions.
This is the third such study the Cancer Society has launched in the last half century. Earlier incarnations have played a key role in showing the links between smoking and cancer, and obesity and cancer. "Our goal with this one is to build off that," said Johnston-Allen.
Essentially, researchers plan to follow the participants over time, to see if differences in lifestyle, environment or genetics increase or lower their risk of getting cancer. After the initial enrollment, which must be done in person, volunteers will be sent questionnaires every two years or so.
This time, they're hoping to recruit 25 percent of the volunteers from racial or ethnic minorities, Johnston-Allen said, to see if there are unique factors affecting their cancer risk.
To be eligible, volunteers must be age 30 to 65, and have no history of cancer (except skin cancer).
For more information on how and where to volunteer, go to www.cancer.org/cps3.