You can be a part of a historic survey during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event Saturday, 5-9 p.m., at Comeaux High School by participating in the ACS's Cancer Prevention Study-3.

"The enrollment Saturday night is open to the public. You don't have to be a participant of Relay for life," says Tracie Bertaut, of the ACS's Mid-South Division's communication and marketing department. "It's a national project and Lafayette is just one of the city's that's participating in it.

"Nationally, we're trying to enroll 300,000 people," she says. "It's something we started a couple of years ago and will continue to enroll people until we hit that mark."

The free onsite process takes between 30-45 minutes. Participants must be between 30-65 years old and have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer). They will fill out a short survey, measurements will be taken as will some blood.

"We do draw a little bit of blood, it's two vials of blood, so it's not very much and we have trained phlebotomists to do that," says Bertaut, adding that Quest Diagnostics professionals will be on hand. "So it's not American Cancer Society staff or volunteers drawing your blood, it's trained phlebotomists.

"And when you get home, you fill out a more comprehensive survey. You can either do that online or fill it out on paper and send it in," Bertaut says. The survey has questions about diet, medications, family history, environmental factors, lifestyles. "And then what happens is all that stuff is sent to Atlanta where the blood is stored and survey computed."

The ACS has been conducting large-scale, nationwide population studies to examine the causes of cancer and how to prevent it for nearly 60 years. There have been three studies prior to Cancer Prevention Study-3, including the Hammond-Horn Study, CPS-1 and CPS-2.

"This is an opportunity for the public to get involved," says Bertaut who also wants to make clear that the survey is not a screening, but for reference down the line, if necessary.

"Your blood isn't analyzed or looked at unless you are later diagnosed with cancer," says Bertaut. "It's important for people to understand that this is not a screening for cancer or any other medical issues."

According to the ACS, over the years, the results of the surveys have shown:

The substantial effect of cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke on lung cancer and premature death, leading to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, warning labels on cigarettes, and numerous smoke-free legislative measures. As a result, smoking rates in men have dropped from 50 percent in the 1950s to about 23 percent today.

The link between larger waist size and increased death rates from cancer and other causes, even among people considered to be normal weight

The first to show the significant impact of obesity on the risk of dying from cancer

The benefit of regular physical activity and harmful effects of too much time spent sitting in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mortality

The considerable impact of air pollution on heart and lung conditions, which motivated the Environmental Protection Agency to propose more stringent limits on air pollution

For more information, or to become involved with CPS-3, go here, email here, or call 1-888-604-5888.

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