The American Cancer Society is looking for people to take part in a long-term, nationwide cancer prevention study tying genetic information to environmental factors in the quest to understand -- and one day cure -- the disease.
The study will be the third of its kind by the ACS. The first study enrolled participants in 1959 and helped find the link between smoking and lung cancer. The second, which started in 1982, highlighted obesity as an important risk factor for cancer. Elizabeth Jablonski, director of research, health initiatives and advocacy for the ACS Illinois Division, said the third study will show how environment plays with an individual's genetics.
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"It will let us understand what all those different risk factors are for the future," Jablonski said. " ... Ones we haven't even thought of yet."
An information day for Elgin-area residents will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday in the Sherman Hospital cafeteria, 1425 N. Randall Road, Elgin. A similar kickoff will be held at the ACS's Arlington Heights office at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at 1114 N. Arlington Heights Road.
Prospective participants can talk to hospital and cancer society representatives at the kickoffs before enrolling in the study or go online to complete a comprehensive baseline survey and schedule an appointment for events in October and November where blood samples and waist measurements will be taken. Participants must commit to the study long-term, agreeing to fill out follow-up surveys for years to come.
Jablonski, who is already enrolled, said it's an exciting opportunity to take part in scientific research most people never know.
"This allows you to be a part of history, to be part of the next discoveries that they find for the future of cancer research," Jablonski said.
Participants must be 30 to 65 years old and never personally diagnosed with cancer, but Jablonski said people with basal and squamous cell skin cancer can still participate.
The ACS also needs volunteers to help run the events in October and November in Elgin, Arlington Heights, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Hoffman Estates and Palatine. Information about volunteering will be available at the September kickoff sessions.
The ACS started recruiting study participants in 2007 and will close enrollment in December 2013 with a diverse sample size investigators hope reaches 300,000 people.
The information will help clarify risk factors for cancer and identify ways to prevent cancer in future generations.
"This study is extremely exciting," Jablonski said.