Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Join the Sister Study and help researchers find the causes of breast cancer!

The Coalition of Labor Union Women recently teamed up with the Sister Study, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. It is the nation's largest research effort to find the causes of breast cancer. The study's objective: to recruit 50,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74 with a sister (living or deceased) who has had breast cancer. The women who join the Sister Study must never have been diagnosed with breast cancer themselves.
As the United States marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, researchers still don't understand what causes the disease. Doctors know very little about how the environment may affect breast cancer. The Sister Study has successfully recruited more than 27,000 participants, but more volunteers are needed.

For many, participation is a way to honor their sisters. "My sister, Susan, died from breast cancer just 16 days before her 40th birthday," says CLUW Pennsylvania State Vice Pres. Barbara Barnes, a member of the plumbers and sprinkler fitters' union. "I was with her when she died, and I had accepted that the only way for her to escape her pain was to leave her painful body." The loss of her little sister devastated Barbara, who joined the study in Susan's memory and has poured time and energy into enrolling other women.

Breast cancer affects women from every walk of life, so the Sister Study is seeking women of all backgrounds, occupations, ages, and ethnic groups. CLUW is the only national organization of union women, and this collaboration opens the door to the broad diversity of unions and jobs represented in our membership. A program at our September National Executive Board meeting brought an enthusiastic response.

The 10-year study begins with participants answering questions about diet, jobs, hobbies, and things they've been exposed to throughout their lives -- to determine what may influence breast cancer risk. Later, a female health technician will collect small samples of blood, urine, toenail clippings, and house dust, to provide researchers with a better picture of the woman's environment and genes. Women who join are not asked to take any medicine, visit a medical center, or make changes to their habits, diet, or daily life. The survey is currently available in English and Spanish. There is a great need to reach women in the African American, Asian, Latina and Native American communities as well as senior women.

"With all the myths and misperceptions circulating about women's health, CLUW is pleased to lend our organizational clout to provide accurate information," says CLUW Pres. Marsha Zakowski.

For more information contact Carol Rosenblatt, CLUW's Executive Director, at 202-508-6951 or at csrosenblatt@cluw.org or visit www.cluw.org. To volunteer contact the Sister Study at 1-877-4Sister or www.sisterstudy.org. For Spanish, visit www.sisterstudy.org/spanish. The Deaf/Hard of Hearing number is 1-866-TTY-4SIS.

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