WAYNESBURG – “If you’ve ever wondered how you can change the world, here is your chance,” The American Cancer Society brochure declares.
At this year’s Greene County Relay for Life May 4, people ages 30 to 65 who have never had cancer are being asked to come forward and “Join the movement for more birthdays. Enroll in Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-3).”
“This is the last year to recruit for CPS-3,” ACS Income Development Specialist Margie Smith said. “Greene County was chosen to find volunteers because we’re recognized for our stellar performance at Relay for Life. We’re second per capita in the nation for dollars raised and we continue to exceed our goals. Our goal for CPS-3 is to sign up 129 or as many as 148. I’m hoping we can get out the word and sign up all 148.”
Nothing has changed the lifestyles of Americans more than learning the hard facts about cigarette smoking, second-hand smoke, air pollution and sedentary living, facts the ACS began extracting from its cancer prevention studies that began in the 1950s and still run today.
Smoking is now known to cause lung cancer. But it took three years, 22,000 ACS volunteers and 188,000 study participants to prove it. As a result, smoking rates among men has dropped from 50 percent in the 1950s to about 23 percent today.
Tracking the lives of thousands to find statistical proof began with the ACS Hammond Horn study that found the link between smoking and cancer in 1952. CPS-1 went on to identify early deaths from smoking, which lead to warning labels and public laws to restrict advertising. CPS-2 began in 1982 and by 1996 had identified deaths from second-hand smoke. Public smoking bans now protect about 80 percent of Americans from second-hand smoke.
Other data gathered shows links between cancer and obesity, sedentary lifestyles and air pollution. Because of this data, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing more stringent limits on air pollution and doctors and patients are tackling health issues involved with obesity and exercise.
CPS-2 volunteers are still being tracked and researchers are crunching the data they gather from their lives to determine what other cancers lurk in the relationship between various exposures and disease. With every year, research tools get more accurate.
CPS-3 will be the last survey and ACS is recruiting 300,000 volunteers from every corner of the country to help better understand how lifestyle, genetics and the environment affect cancer and what can be done about it. Scientists will analyze blood samples for genetics, hormones, nutrients and other markers to better understand how factors in the blood affect susceptibility to disease.
To be a CSP-3 volunteer, Smith said, “We’re looking for people who are truly and sincerely interested in finding the answer to cancer.”
No appointment is needed to sign up on May 4, but time is of the essence, Smith noted. “We’ll be recruiting one day only, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the lower parking lot at Waynesburg Central High School. That’s our window of opportunity and I have great hopes that those who have never had cancer will come forward to help us with our ultimate goal of eliminating cancer as a major health problem.”
Enrollment is as easy as talking to a neighbor or a friend. Those who have volunteered to man the four stations of CPS-3 are familiar faces.
Waynesburg Central sophomore Nik Shelton is the smiling “floater,” who will be everywhere during the relay, handing out information and taking volunteers to Station 1, where Archie and Jeanette Trader will greet and check eligibility: Age 30-65, never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous call skin cancer) and willing to make a longterm commitment, which includes periodic followup surveys at home.