Saturday, November 29, 2008

A real (not symbolic) way to fight breast cancer

Pink ribbons? Please. Now you can do something concrete to help researchers defeat breast cancer. Army Of Women is a collaboration between the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation. The idea is to link women with researchers so that both causes and cures of breast cancer can be studied. All American women are welcome to participate. (Women from outside the US are welcome to make donations but currently cannot participate in research studies.) As a member of the Army, you will receive periodic email notices about research studies. If you are eligible to participate (for example, if they are looking for women within a certain age group, and you are within that age group), then you can volunteer for the study. And if you don't want to participate in that study, then you don't. Participating might involve filling out a questionnaire or giving a sample, such as blood. Participating does not cost anything, and you will not have to pay any fees should you be asked to give a sample. 

There are several things about this new initiative that are innovative and promising. For one thing, it takes research out of the lab, where cancer research is typically done, and moves it into the field of actual human subjects. Large-scale studies involving people are usually not feasible for researchers. By providing a large group of willing participants, the Army will enable research to move forward in a way it has not been logistically able to do before. Moreover, the focus will be on actual women, and on prevention, and the causes of breast cancer, rather than on killing existing tumor cells in lab animals and trying to eradicate cancer that has already arisen. 

If you are interested in learning more or signing up, just go to Their goal is half a million women by the end of 2008. Currently they're up to about a quarter million, as you can see by the nifty counter on their home page. Under "getting involved" you'll see easy options for spreading the word. Take a minute out of this crazy holiday season to do something truly good. 

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