Leading the World to Healthier Living

Bernyce Edwards was not about to take her daughter’s death from breast cancer lying down. Her opportunity to make a difference both in the fight against cancer and in her own health came from a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study.

The study examined whether exercise can reduce a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. Edwards’ daughter, Beverly, was 42 when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. With her immune system weakened by chemotherapy, she died from pneumonia three months later. While it happened quickly for us, it was a wake-up call, she said.

Edwards was 67 when she joined the year long study, which required participants to work out for at least 45 minutes five days a week. Although Edwards could manage only 20 minutes on the treadmill at first, she eventually worked her way up to an hour.By the end of the study, she had lost nearly 13 pounds.She wasn’t alone.Her fellow exercisers achieved significant reductions in weight, total body fat and, most importantly, intra-abdominal fat, which can raise insulin levels and promote the growth of cancer cells.

The study is one of many at the Hutchinson Center that are helping individuals like Edwards beat their odds of developing cancer. And our research shows that exercise isn’t the only way to make a difference.

  • The best way to fight cancer is to prevent it: This year, cancer will strike 1.4 million people worldwide. Experts believe that nearly 80 percent of these cases may be preventable through lifestyle changes. The Hutchinson Center houses the world’s largest and most established research program dedicated to uncovering the factors that influence a person’s likelihood of getting cancer.
  • Screening saves lives: Center researchers have developed ways to monitor cancer risk and onset in patients with the precancerous condition Barrett’s esophagus, which boost survival rates for esophageal cancer from 5 percent to more than 80 percent. Now, we’re developing effective new ways to monitor early onset of colorectal and other cancers.
  • Setting the facts straight on hormones and supplements: The Center serves as the clinical coordinating center for the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a 15-year, multimillion-dollar study involving more than 160,000 women nationwide that seeks to find ways to prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cancer. The study found that combination hormone-replacement therapy increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and heart disease and decreases the risk of bone fractures and colon cancer. The Hutchinson Center also plays a key role in SELECT, the largest-ever prostate-cancer prevention study. The study aims to tell whether selenium and vitamin E can prevent the disease. More than 32,000 men are enrolled in this National Cancer Institute-funded study, which will run for 12 years.
  • Diet and disease: Center studies have found that moderate consumption of red wine and a diet rich in vegetables can reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Center researchers have also shown that a diet high in fat and calcium may fuel prostate-cancer progression to advanced stages in those who already have the disease.
  • More reasons to quit: Hutchinson Center research shows that long-term heavy smoking doubles a man’s risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer and can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Join a prevention research study: Male and female volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are needed for disease-prevention and early detection research at the Hutchinson Center. Whether asked to follow a special diet or increase their exercise, volunteers are essential and greatly appreciated in the Center’s research efforts.

Visit the Center’s Web site for a complete list of current studies. Go to: www.fhcrc.org/donating/other/study/ and type in a keyword for your area of interest.