Momentum for The Tomorrow Project has been building in recent months and will likely increase following Tuesday’s announcement that cancer is now the leading cause of death in every Canadian province.
Statistics Canada reported that heart disease is no longer the leading cause of deaths across the country, replaced by cancer that accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the total number of deaths in Canada.
The results were published Tuesday in a report called Leading Causes of Death, 2008. The publication gives a full accounting and breakdown of the attributable causes of the 238,617 deaths that year, listing off the ten most common ones. In order, they are: cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.
The news comes as no surprise to health professionals, scientific observers or even the general public. It does spur at least one medical researcher to continue with her work on learning cancer’s patterns.
Dr. Paula Robson has been heading up The Tomorrow Project in this province. It’s part of a larger, long-term health survey across the country called the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, one of the largest studies of its kind in the world. It hopes to amass 300,000 participants from five provinces.
She is happy to report that her work in recruiting study subjects is progressing very well.
“We’ve had a really big rise over the last couple of months. We think momentum is really building,” she commented. “We know that people in Alberta are really concerned about health and health care. This momentum is definitely on the move and going in the right direction.”
The study is hoping to sign up 50,000 volunteers by next year. Each participant is requested to fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire, plus provide a sample of blood, urine or saliva as an initial entrance into the program. Individuals can come from all lifestyles and all walks of life, but must be between the ages of 35 and 69 and have never had cancer.
Once they are in, each volunteer will be issued an identification number to maintain their privacy.
The project started in 2000. It is expected to continue for 50 years, periodically contacting each registrant between one and five years to do follow-up checks on their health. The whole purpose is to pinpoint the causes of cancer if possible.
In order to drum up more recruits, officials have been visiting various communities across Alberta, making stops in St. Albert and Morinville in August. Robson said that the St. Albert visit was one of its most successful campaigns.
“We’ll certainly be coming back because the people there have been extremely supportive.”
That support is a major boost to the importance of the study itself, especially in the light of Tuesday’s announcement.
“We’ve been expecting this to happen for four or five years now,” said Robson. “We’ve been watching the numbers go up. It’s very sobering.”
She elaborated that one in two men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetimes.
If you are interested in the study, call 1-877-919-9292 or visit www.in4tomorrow.ca to register online. Successful applicants will be sent a test kit including a questionnaire. The survey asks about lifestyle, environment, and family history, including family health.