The annual Relay for Life at Fort Lewis College, a fundraiser for cancer research and treatment, will have an added facet this year.
Participants may enroll in a 30-year study of how environment, lifestyle and diet influence cancer.
“This is a historic opportunity for our community to play a role in helping to prevent cancer,” Dr. Nicole Pinkerton, a Durango gynecologist, said.
“It’s a national study, which means people from across the United States can participate in their community,” she said.
The American Cancer Society, which is sponsoring the study, hopes to enroll at least 300,000 from all ethnic groups.
Enrollment is free, but it must be in person because a waist measurement and a blood sample is taken. Detailed questionnaires will be sent to participants every two to three years.
The time to enroll in the study is limited – from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the field. Participants must be 30 to 65 years and have no history of cancer.
“Enrollment is the only time you have to show up in person,” said Pinkerton, who is coordinating enrollment in the Four Corners.
There are no enrollment sites in New Mexico.
Cheryl Schou, community relationships manager for the American Red Cross in Durango, said all qualified people are encouraged to participate in the long-range study.
“It’s about diet, it’s about environment, it’s about all of us,” Schou said. “The information can help generations to come.”
Information about the long-range study is being passed by word of mouth, Pinkerton said. There is no money to buy ads.
“We’re talking it up as much as possible,” Pinkerton said. “We’re interested in the number of enrollments, but we’re more interested in long-term commitment.”
The survey is designated CPS-3 because it is the cancer society’s third national cancer study.
The first looked-at prospective mortality among about 1 million adults enrolled between Oct. 1, 1959, and Feb. 15, 1960. Participants were monitored through September 1972.
A second study gathered data on 1.2 million adults from all states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who were enrolled in 1982. The focus was on the effect of lifestyle, including smoking, and environment.
The cause of 488,000 deaths among the participants from 1982 to 2006 has been documented.
Individuals and teams take part in Relay for Life, the cancer society’s major fundraiser.
It is conducted at Ray Dennison Memorial Field at Fort Lewis College, where people walk from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday for donations pledged to the cancer society.
Some of the money remains in the community to help cancer patients with expenses.