Help find the cure for cancer

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, June 19, 2012

By KATIE McDOWELL / Lifestyles Editor

Three of my grandparents were diagnosed with cancer during my lifetime.

My maternal grandmother died of multiple myeloma in 1985, while my paternal grandfather died of prostate cancer in 2001. My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma last summer, and we recently received the wonderful news that she is now in remission.

My family’s experience is not unique. Cancer, in all of its dreadful forms, affects thousands of people each year.

That’s why I was so interested when Scarlet Thompson, the communications director of the American Cancer Society in Birmingham, told me about the organization’s upcoming cancer prevention study.

The study, known as Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), is the latest in a handful of studies over the last few decades that examine how genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors cause or prevent cancer.

The American Cancer Society hopes to enroll about 300,000 people nationwide in CPS-3, which follows participants over several decades. The organization hopes to enroll about 1,000 from the Birmingham metro area.

“You can help us find out what is causing cancer and how to prevent it,” Thompson said. “It’s really cool. You’re basically changing health history by participating in it.”

Previous studies have produced several “revelations” about cancer causes and preventions, including the link between being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle to increased risk of cancer. A 1980s study linked aspirin use to a lower risk of colon cancer, while an earlier study linked smoking to cancer.

The CPS-3 study is a way for Shelby County residents to make a real difference. The organization needs strong local turnout in order to reach its goal.

While I’m two years short of the age cutoff — participants must be between 30-65 years old — I am going to encourage everyone I know to participate, if they are eligible.

Enrollment in the Birmingham metro area will be held Aug. 22-29 at various locations, including the Pelham YMCA, 2610 Pelham Parkway, and the Greystone YMCA, 5414 U.S. 280.

For more information about how to enroll, visit

Katie McDowell is the lifestyles editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 19 or by email at