By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Everyone knows smoking cigarettes increases the risk of lung cancer.
But prior to the American Cancer Society Hammond Horn Study launched in 1952, that was nothing more than an assumption or opinion.
However, after 188,000 men provided detailed information about their smoking habits and from studying mortality rates among volunteers, over a period of time the study established cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer and heart disease.
The American Cancer Society is preparing to embark on another study to help researchers better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.
Friday morning at Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services, representatives from the American Cancer Society hosted a Community Champion Kick-off event to recruit Floyd County residents interested in spreading the word about the importance of participating in the nationwide study.
The American Cancer Society is recruiting 300,000 adults nationwide, between the ages of 30 to 65 years old, who have never been diagnosed with cancer. The study, which involves completing follow-up surveys, is expected to last 20 to 30 years.
Those interested in the free program will be asked to fill out a survey, have their waist measured and provide a small blood sample.
“There are two ways to participate. We want people to be a champion and spread the word, and to sign up and participate,” said Matt Vamvas, health initiatives representative with the American Cancer Society. “This does not require any monetary donations.”
Residents who want to help are asked to sign up prior to official enrollment in the program March 19-20, when a blood sample will be drawn at one of three locations — Floyd Memorial Hospital, the YMCA of Southern Indiana-Clark County branch and Baptist Hospital East in Louisville.
“The blood sample and survey will tell us a lot,” Vamvas said. “Many individuals diagnosed with cancer struggle to answer the question, ‘what caused my cancer?’ In many cases we don’t know the answer. CPS-3 will help us better understand what factors cause cancer, and once we know that, we can be better equipped to prevent cancer.”
The American Cancer Society has embarked on other studies in the past that have helped show the relationship between certain lifestyles or habits that may increase the risk of cancer.
“This is very exciting,” said Dr. Naveed Chowhan, director of the Cancer Center of Indiana in New Albany. “This can make a big difference in how we detect and treat cancer.”
The goal is to get 500 participants at each of the three sites. So far, Vamvas said 91 people have signed up. There will be kick-off events at the Clark County YMCA at 8 a.m. Jan. 23 and Baptist East at 8 a.m. Jan. 16.
Vamvas said he hopes the “champions” who attend the kick-offs will spread the word and help encourage residents to sign up for the study.