It’s April, which means it’s Daffodil Month—when fundraising for the fight against cancer ramps up, and all of us touched by the impact of cancer are reminded of how far we still have to go to achieve victory over this devastating disease. Donating to places like the Canadian Cancer Society is certainly critical, since research is an expensive endeavor. But there is an equally vital way that you can support the fight against cancer without spending a cent… Join the Ontario Health Study!
The Ontario Health Study is a long-term, non-profit project with the broad mandate to better understand the causes of, and to identify prevention and treatment options for, numerous chronic diseases, including cancer. And to do this important work, they need residents of Ontario to volunteer to complete an online survey.
Being involved in a research project is something that intrigues most people. In fact, one of the most common questions I hear when I meet folks at events is “Can I volunteer to participate in research projects?” It’s really not surprising that people are eager to get involved in research; it’s an easy way to contribute to society’s understanding of the world without actually being a scientist or researcher oneself.
So when people ask, I immediately recommend that they visit the OntarioHealthStudy.ca website and register.
I volunteered to join the study in 2011, so I can say from personal experience that participating is simple. It took about 45 minutes for me to complete the survey, which included questions about my normal dietary practices, general fitness, and even some family medical history. Then two years ago I was invited to visit a Local Study Centre, where they took a blood sample, and I did a few simple tests to gauge various health factors.
Being an active participant of the Ontario Health Study provides a personal way that people can be part of the fight for a healthier future for everyone. It’s monumentally satisfying to know that simply by providing some basic health information to a website, I’m providing a critical contribution to the fight against diseases that continue to plague loved ones.
So this year, in addition to coughing up some cash in support of cancer research, consider making an additional donation that’s equally valuable: data.
Devin Kreuger is Director of the Office of the Vice-Principal Research at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He can be contacted at [email protected] Visit www.utm.utoronto.ca/research