An update for BC Generations Project members | December 2013
Rolling up your sleeves across BC
During recruitment, not everyone was asked to provide biological samples right away. “Our top priority was to have as many people as possible sign up to the Project,” explains Dr. John Spinelli, principal investigator. Once recruitment ended, the Project received additional funding to complete sample collection for all study members.
In April, the Project started sending lab requisitions to these remaining participants. “Many communities have had response rates of more than 80%,” says Dr. Spinelli. “This is really impressive, since it’s common for research studies to lose participants – especially when they’re asked to face the needle!”
Response was good even among participants who don’t live near a laboratory. More than 700 participants visited a lab in another town to donate their sample. So far, more than 5,000 new blood/urine samples have now been added to the BC Generation Project’s freezers, bringing the total number past 20,000.
Sample collection is ongoing in many regions. The Project is contacting study members in the Lower Mainland, Kamloops, Victoria and Nanaimo. Outreach to the Fraser Valley and Okanagan regions will begin in 2014. If you don’t hear from us, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1.877.675.8221.
Dr. Spinelli is hopeful that these initial results mean that study members will continue to participate in future questionnaires and requests for information from the Project. “This really speaks to the commitment of study participants to the Project over the long term.”
New questionnaire to collect info on environmental exposures
Did you know that long-term shift work was recently added to the official list of probable carcinogens? We’ve noticed among our study members a particular interest in research that addresses how our environment can affect cancer risk.
We’re pleased to announce that environmental factors will be the focus of the next BC Generations Project questionnaire for study members. Scheduled for mid-2014, the questionnaire will collect data on where participants have lived over their lifetimes and the kinds of work they’ve done. All members will receive an email asking them to register onto the BC Generations Project members’ site so they can complete the online questionnaire.
If you’re interested in learning more about environmental carcinogens and what we currently know about them, please read our short blog post: Environmental Exposures 101 on the BC Generations Project website.
Body Mass Index: how do BC members compare?
Obesity is known to be a risk factor for many types of cancer. When the BC Generations Project and its four partner regions measured body mass index (BMI) in participants, some noticeable regional differences emerged.*
- BC had by far the highest percentage of members (47%) whose BMI fell within normal ranges. Other regions’ rates ranged from 31.5-36.9%.
- Rates of overweight were highest in Ontario (41.9%) and lowest in BC (33.9%).
- Obesity rates were also lowest in BC (17.7%) and increased eastward across the country (24.9% in Alberta, 26.1% in Ontario, 26.9% in Quebec and 29.3% in Atlantic Canada).
*Based on data collected from assessment centre measurements. BMI classifications are Underweight (less than 18.5), Normal (18.5 to 25), Overweight (25-30) and Obese (30+).
Under the microscope
A new article in the Fall 2013 issue of UBC Medicine Magazine features cancer research Dr. John Spinelli musing on why he’s leading a project “whose scientific payoff will likely come long after he retires” in A recipe for understanding cancer (http://med.ubc.ca/a-recipe-for-understanding-cancer/).
The story also discusses the “wildly successful” recruitment innovations pioneered by the BC Generations Project. BC’s unique pop-up assessment centre approach ensured participation from people across the province.
These BC communities boasted a response rate of more than 80% to the current blood/urine sample request:*
- Brentwood Bay
- Dawson Creek
- Nanoose Bay
- North Saanich
- Port Alberni
- Qualicum Beach
*Among those BC communities contacted spring-summer 2013.
You asked us
Will I receive any results from the urine and blood samples I provide?
The BC Generations Project was created to collect and store health and lifestyle questionnaires, body measurements, and blood and urine samples. Think of it as a large data warehouse that will be the source of hundreds of future studies on cancer and other chronic diseases. We don’t do any analysis ourselves of the data or samples we collect. Instead, other researchers will be able to access our collection to conduct their own studies.
Test results from blood and urine samples are not normally shared with participants. The kind of sample testing done for research purposes is quite different from the routine blood work or urine tests your doctor may order to monitor your general health. The tests performed will be investigational, meaning that researchers don’t yet know whether these tests are even useful for identifying or predicting disease.
Don’t lose touch
We want to make sure our environmental questionnaire reaches you! If you’re planning to move or change your email address, please let us know by sending your new contact details to email@example.com or call 1.877.675.8221.