Bioethics cancer research initiative launches community programs

1/28/2008

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (Jan. 28, 2008) – Tuskegee University recently launched a program emphasizing healthy lifestyles to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer.

According to project literature, the Healthy Lifestyle Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program is designed to inform residents in Macon County and surrounding areas about cancer and steps that can be taken for prevention or reduce mortality rates of patients. Several community members, including campus faculty, participated in a two-month course, training to spread awareness throughout the community. The principal investigator is Dr. Vivian Carter. Dr. Norma Dawkins also assisted in the project. The effort is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

“We’re excited about the opportunities that these participants have to go out in the community,” said Barbara Howard, field coordinator for the project and office manager in Tuskegee’s biology department. “It is our goal to decrease the incidents of cancer in African Americans through healthy lifestyle choices in nutritional habits and exercise.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer accounts for 500,000 deaths annually, with most of the diagnoses occurring in blacks living in the U.S. Among the most common cancers diagnosed in blacks are prostate and breast cancers. Both cancers’ mortality rates for blacks are also higher than other racial groups.

Factors that may contribute to cancer are smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, high fat intake, low dietary fiber intake, and low intake of fruits and vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these factors have been linked to blacks being diagnosed with cancers and other diseases. The program at Tuskegee stresses the importance of terminating or reducing these factors.

“Being an athletic person, exercising is not something I had to be introduced to,” said Savitri Reed-Miles, academic counselor for the Department of Athletics at Tuskegee. “I know what to eat now and will apply it to my daily lifestyle.”

Class participants, officially deemed “leaders,” have begun several activities in the community and on campus. Among them are Tai Chi, walking trails and floor aerobics. Most activities are free and open to the public. Some exercises may require gym fees.

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