Historic cancer study project launched in Canada

June 14th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 14 (IANS) In one of the biggest cancer research projects ever undertaken in the world, Canada has launched a $100 million long-term study called The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project to know how genetics, the environment, lifestyle and behaviour contribute to the development of the deadly disease. Cancer is the second biggest killer in Canada, causing nearly 70,000 deaths in 2004 in this nation of 32 millions. In fact, cancer deaths will soon surpass deaths caused by heart ailments, says Statistics Canada.

As part of the historic study, 300,000 Canadians in the age group of 35 to 69 will be picked up randomly to track their health and lifestyle for up to 30 years - through surveys and the collection of blood and saliva samples.

“This is a landmark moment for Canada,” Jeff Lozon, chairman of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, which will lead the study, said in a statement.

Lozon added: “Every Canadian is touched by cancer - whether personally or through family or friends. The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project will build an enormous bank of information that Canadian and international researchers can draw upon in the short-term and create a legacy for future generations.”

Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement said the project would make Canada a leader in the field of cancer research worldwide.

“Over the coming years, this study will be a major contributor to global research to identify the causes of cancer and ultimately prevent people from getting the disease in the first place,” he said.

Heather Bryant, vice-president (cancer control) at Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, said: “We need to better understand how and why people develop cancer in the first place. To do that we must explore how our environment, lifestyle and genetic make-up interact to create cancer risks so that we can better address them head on.

“This is a complicated set of diseases. We have made significant progress in preventing many cancers and in managing and treating others, but the information from this research will fuel better prevention and screening programs - the cornerstones of reducing the number of Canadians getting cancer.”

Calling the study a major contribution to worldwide research, Bryant said: “Unlike studies that examine retrospectively the causes that may have led an individual to develop cancer - relying on a person’s recall of habits and exposures - this study will allow researchers to regularly consider an impressive array of complex variables that would not be otherwise possible to capture.”

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