MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly 1,000 people around the Twin Cities have signed up to take part in a nationwide cancer prevention study. In the next week, hundreds more will enroll.

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The American Cancer Society is trying to get 300,000 people from across the country to agree to be part of a comprehensive study that will span 20 to 30 years. It started on June 11 with enrollment events at places like fitness centers, churches, and hospitals.

The goal is to give researchers a better understanding of what is currently causing cancer and ways to prevent it.

We’ve learned so much about cancer over the last few decades, but there are still many mysteries.
We talked with Lou Harvin, a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society here in the Twin Cities.

“Say you exercise, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, and you don’t do bad things and live near terrible places. Why are those people still getting cancer? We don’t have all of the answers to cancer,” Harvin said.

To take part you have to be between the ages of 30 and 65. When you show up to enroll in the study, you fill out a form that asks questions about your health as well as eating, drinking and exercise habits.

Then, you let them measure your waistline, which is very important, according to Hannah Simmons with the American Cancer Society.

“We learn a lot from measuring someone’s waistline. Most people know that obesity and size of the waist are linked to many things such as diabetes and cancer. So we take the waistline measurement to add to that body of research that we are adding on,” Simmons said.

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After that, you give them a blood sample.

“When you look around this room, you see we have mostly women. Women tend to help out in studies of this magnitude, of this nature. For some reason I don’t know why, guys tend to stay away. People of color tend to stay away,” Harvin said, adding that the more diverse the sampling is, the better.

After the enrollment, all that’s required is filling out a survey that is mailed to you once every two years.

They’ve been going around the country registering people for a few years now and are getting close to reaching that goal of 300,000 people nationwide.

“We are over 230,000 participants so far, and we are already looking at data and things that people are reporting back to us,” Simmons said.

Here in Twin Cities there are still about a dozen more of those enrollment events scheduled through
June 27.

You can make an appointment online, or just walk in. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to move through the process.

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For a list of places that are holding enrollment events for the cancer study, click here.