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By Steve Tawa

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — The South Jersey chapter of the American Cancer Society is continuing to spread the word about an important new research effort into the causes and prevention of cancer.

And the group is looking for more volunteers willing to take part in the long-term study (see related story).

Executive vice president Frank Mascia calls it a once-in-a-generation opportunity “to help us create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.”

The Cancer Society has signed up stakeholders that include South Jersey hospitals (Cooper, Virtua, South Jersey Healthcare), universities (Rowan), and other organizations (Mt. Laurel YMCA) that will get their employees and members to participate in the “Cancer Prevention Study III.”

Other institutions and organizations are also being urged to join in and sign up more participants.

The study hopes to enroll 300,000 people across the US by May, according to Virtua Hospital physician Arnold Baskies.

“These participants will be followed for at least 20 years, so this is a longitudinal study,” he explained.

To be eligible, you must be between 30 and 65 years old and never diagnosed with cancer.  Participation requires agreeing to a one-time blood sample and waist measurement, plus completing an initial survey form.

Then, participants will be asked to fill out follow-up surveys every few years.

Dr. Baskies says they hope to build on the success of the first two comprehensive cancer studies that began in the ’50s and ’60’s.

“We were the first people to show the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer,” he points out.

A current study (known as CPS-II, begun in 1982 and still ongoing) demonstrated the link between obesity and death rates.

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